I noticed this message today from one of the Facebook Pages that I administrate. It could read, “Reply links make it easier for Libraries to have conversations.” Hyper-linked!
I’ve been thinking that I should join Tumblr. It seems to be the up-and-coming social network service. A blogging spinoff that does blogging with style. And having listen to the “How to Fail at Social Networking” webinar the other day, it was mentioned that Tumblr is where all the teenagers are after the grownups took over Facebook. Not that I am staking teenagers, it’s just that trying to stay up-to-date with the younger crowd technologically.
Then there is another interesting social site, Soundcloud, where people share music, or sounds, that they create. I wonder what the copyright liability is in this if an artist samples a clips from a Soundcloud post? I like music and have a desire to compose and post music someday when I have time.
Should I connect to these sites, create accounts that might just linger without use? I have a MySpace account that I never check. I cancelled my Instagram account thinking that I rather just post images into Facebook. Are we spreading ourselves too thin signing up for multiple accounts in these services just to have them grow digital cobwebs? From a security perspective, keeping too many accounts just creates more targets to be hacked.
This started with another social media tool that I discovered today, JoliDrive. JoliDrive connects all your social cloud storage application into one interface. This looks promising so I signed up. I’ve known about JoliCloud for a while ever since they released a Cloud-based Operating Systems, Joli OS, that is similar and competes with Google Chromebooks. Except this OS will install on any modern laptop/netbook.
Just taking a couple of classes at SJSU SLIS and thinking about how to change the LLU library has be wishing I was librarian now. What do I mean? I mean that I have all these ideas and I have the ear of the director and librarians but in my heart I am not a librarian. So, I do not feel I am equal or at the same level as the librarians and therefore, I feel like I don’t have the same say in these ideas that will effect the very nature of the library. But I do have a say and I say it. I do get things done and do them. But, well just thinking about social media and the library’s commitment to it. I cannot really participate in responding with authority to patron research questions because I don’t have the librarian title. So, hoping I can get through these MLIS classes as quickly as possible so that I can give myself permission to be a librarian and well as act like one.
This is my report for the “Emerging Technology/Social Media Plan” assignment. I choose to create a business report on incorporating Twitter into the library. Why Twitter? Isn’t everyone already doing that? No not quite. It is one social media tool that my library is not engaged in. Twitter offers a platform to engage patrons in conversation not just broadcasting information. The report emphases this criteria and easing Twitter into the library’s workflow in a three phased approach. This is not just an assignment for me but will be a stepping stone to present to my library for action.
See the attached PDF document:
First of all, thanks Henry Mensch for posting a tweet about this webinar a while back. I signed up for a webinar entitled: “How to Fail at Social Media (And How to Get it Right)” and it really gave me food-for-thought related to my planning assignment and the Hyperlinked Library. Besides the intriguing title, the topic spoke to me because my library has been slow to engage in the social network space. I would highly recommend watching the archive of this presentation as it lends itself to many topics that we have been addressing in the Hyperlinked library. Briefly summarizing some of the presentation:
• Social networking should be about engaging in conversations with patrons and not so much broadcasting information but also listening. An example from the presentation is a library which asks their Facebook followers what they are reading, they receive lots of responses but the library does not answer any of those responses. This is pretty much a one-way conversation and a road map to disengage with those users who took the time to respond.
• Credibility on the web is questionable when anyone can create a Twitter or Facebook account claiming to represent the library. Make sure to fully fill out your library’s social media profile and include relevant, meaningful information that the patron can identify as coming from the library.
• Develop a social media policy, preferably before creating a social media account and stick to it.
• Don’t be like a prairie dog and stick your head into and out of social media like a prairie dog sticks its head in and out of its hole. Be prepared to engage in social media and commit to it.
• Encourage posts to social media that engage a conversation rather than announce a service. For example, instead of commanding patrons with, “Come use our reference database for your answers” try something like, “Tired of your Wikipedia references being rejected? The library has many scholarly resources to improve your next writing assignment.”
The archive listed below asks for some basic information to view the presentation. The presentation is about an hour. There was a time in the middle of the live broadcast this afternoon when the presenter lost her connection, just so that you are aware. I don’t know if they edited the situation out.
I work in an academic library so this is my experience. Students in academic libraries are constantly evolving in their use of the library and technology. When I first started, databases were published on series of multiple CD-ROMs housed in CD towers and our students had to come to the library to access them via a network file share available from computers in the library. Our library had 7 photocopy machines because students needed to make copies of articles found in journals in the stacks. Today the copiers in the library have be reduced to 2 as most journal articles are available electronically (although they still like to print them). Students are not tied to the library computers anymore. The databases that they need are accessible over the Internet provided by the library through various subscription agreements with publishers. So it comes as no surprise that the way students interact with librarians has to change.
Librarians need to go where the students are. Where are they? They can be anywhere as long as they have an Internet connection and access to the library resources via authenticated access. So how do we provide help to students who could be accessing from anywhere? That is the goal in order to reach all users.
One of the current solutions is the venerable “Ask-a-Librarian” link. The link can simply be to a librarian email address or more sophisticatedly to a librarian chat interface. Having access to a librarian via a chat can be a valuable tool but it does have some drawbacks. First, staffing a librarian or group of librarians for 24/7 chat access would typically be cost prohibited for libraries. Second, the Ask-a-Librarian link is user initiated. If the student feels as though they shouldn’t need help and are either afraid or to proud to ask, then they will not use the link. Third, the Ask-a-Librarian link is usually found on the library’s homepage and maybe a few other select locations but not available once the student starts navigating a search and moves onto various publisher sites. Fourth, chatting works as long as the student can explain the problem in words. What if they can not?
So, I think a solution or collection of technologies can be useful here so that the student’s research needs are met if they run into a problems and need help. The Ask-a-Librarian idea is good but I think it needs to be expanded to reach all users. First, libraries and librarians will need to pool their resources to create a 24/7 user experience. From a quick Google search, this appears to be a direction that some libraries have taken.
Next, let’s expand on the Ask-a-Librarian link by providing a librarian’s assistance even if not prompted. Recently I was looking for a part to my microwave. As I was searching on Sear’s site and I paused or stayed on the page for a while; a chat popup soon appeared to offer me assistance. I am sure that you have seen similar non-prompted popup appears on other retail or financial sites. I think the library could deploy a similar technology for live chat with a librarian. If the student is struggling on a search and doesn’t feel like they need help or does know how to get help, this could be beneficial. There are some guidelines to consider. Don’t be too pesky and prompt repeatedly or too quickly; students will definitely get annoyed quickly. Don’t be invasive. No one likes someone looking over their shoulders while searching neither should the online librarian be a virtual hanger-oner.
The library assistant can prompt automatically for help but if it is dismissed and later the student needs help, what will the student do? There still needs to be a means for the student to contact a librarian without leaving their point of issue. One solution are various library toolbars as is pointed out in this Library Journal article. We use LibX but frankly, we do not prompt its use as much as we could. Thinking a little more about what most academic libraries do. Most academic library resources are restricted based on a license. Libraries develop means to authenticate patrons to these gated resources. Some librarians use Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions to seamlessly provide access to multiple authenticated resources as the student moves through them. The next step I think is to capitalize on SSO’s means of tracking authenticated access and through the same technology provide assistance services to the patrons. In other words, the Ask-a-Librarian link or automatic chat would follow the student as they moved from one library resource to another. When assistance is needed, the librarian would know which resource the student is currently accessing and how they arrived at that resource. This information can be valuable when answering research questions and not duplicate searches that have already be done or when tackling technical issues. The main concern for this type of technology is again a loss of privacy. Perhaps when assistance is requested, the librarian will need to ask if they can access the patron’s research history.
Lastly, the case of when words fail. Remote access / viewing / control is already in use. I think that some libraries already have the means to ask for remote access to a student’s computer using today’s chat technology. I think that this technology has to continue and grow in the future. Through the above mentioned, SSO like, session tracking, remote viewing could be initiated in a more direct and concentrated manner. The technology to view remotely also needs to be easy and clientless; the patron shouldn’t have to go through difficulties to establish a remote session with a librarian. Thinking more into the future, will there be a means to remotely view a student’s iPad screen or Android smartphone? Reflector seems to be a possibility now to view an iOS device from an Mac. Or maybe the solution is more low-tech; someone mentioned in a forum using Skype with mirrors.
I noticed in the reading that there seems to be two types of transparency, or is it three (Lincoln, 2009), that effect libraries, or more specifically, my library. There is the transparency that comes by sharing with the public what is going on in the library. This is the same type of transparency that is mentioned in the readings such as Ridfin’s CEO exposing the company’s internal issues to better show the public why things were happening at Redfin (Thompson, 2007) or CEO Mark Cuban’s posting on everything that is happening to him (Anderson, 2006). Libraries, I believe, are doing a pretty good job at this type of transparency. Public libraries, as their name implies, are publicly accessible; budgets are exposed; choices are questioned. Public libraries are blogging, tweeting, Facebooking or otherwise engaged in social conversations. Public libraries are vocal about budget cuts and sometimes gain the attention of politicians. I think public transparency is an ongoing part of libraries.
What I found more interesting and more provoking was the amount of attention in this week’s literature that enforced internal transparency. This got me thinking about how internal transparency plays out in my own library. I commonly hear that library staff are family. People I have known that have transferred to other jobs still come to visit their library family. But as in any family and in an academic setting, there is an unmistakable hierarchy. Those with degrees and credentials have an air of respectability. I think this comes from the academic environment and it is transferred to the university library. Since the administrative positions at the library are filled with librarians or others with advanced degrees, it is not surprising that the literature talks about opening the transparency within the library.
I hold a unique position right now in my library. I am a staff member but I have been with the library so long and my position as head of library IT has given me a “loud” voice with the administration. And now that I am in library school, I have been invited to other faculty meetings as preparation to my future librarian role. Only this week we were talking about blogging and it was mentioned that some of the circulation staff would be interested in posting to the library’s blog. The thoughts of the librarians was that the staff should be allowed to submit posts as long as they went through a librarian editor. Hmmm. Then I believe in the lecture it was mentioned that blogging should follow the same rules as already set down in policy. In other words, trust the staff to follow the rules. Hmmm again.
What does this tell me about transparency and my library? I feel my library is following the path of a hyperlinked library. We have been incorporating trends in communications and electronic access for years. But, there is still some hesitancy by the librarians especially when it comes down to the staff. I think the holdup is the thought that, “What if someone writes something that is incorrect/opinionated/snarky? How does this reflect on the library?” This fits into the lecture about allowing anonymous comments and the types of comments that come through. It also fits into the assignment about writing policy. I think that there is always the possibility that something incorrect might be said, but there is a lot more opportunity for creative ideas to be spread. It is time to open the blogging to staff and enforce any misbehavior with a blogging policy. This would be for posts that are on the public web site.
But this has also got me thinking if I should create a blog within our Intranet site and open the postings to anonymous users. Right now we have an authenticated site where writing posts is a privilege of being signed in. Would staff members feel free to communicate if the login requirement was removed? Would there be hesitancy still? I don’t know.
Anderson, C. (2006) In Praise of Radical Transparency: http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2006/11/in_praise_of_ra.html
Lincoln, M. (2009). Transparency: http://marpr23.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/transparency-how-to-develop-a-transparent-plan-to-maximize-value-and-build-a-brand/
Thompson, C. (2007). The See-Through CEO: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.04/wired40_ceo.html