Feb 28

The Hyperlinked Library – a presentation by Michael Stephens

I was very happy to be able to attend a day of presentations by Michael Stephens of Tame the Web today. I met Michael for breakfast one morning towards the end of my study tour last year, so it was wonderful to renew our acquaintance. Although the time was all too short, it was great to catch up.

Michael Stephens

Anyway, here’s the notes I took – Michael will post the slides to his blog – Tame the Web.


Suffering is optional in this session.

Jesse Hauk Shera quote – “that society will determine what the library of the future will be.”

World has shifted in the last few years, beginning with the dot.com bust.  Web rebooted itself, more interactive and social.

Recommended “Cluetrain Manifesto” which is available online for free.

Continous computing – Roush “Social machines” – Web as platform, wifi is ubiquitous, devices are converging and connecting.i

Time Magazine – “You control the information age” – not libraries.

Recommended “Everthing is miscellaneous”.

Many descriptions of Web 2.0 – 2 Michael focusses on – harvesting collective intelligence and rich user experiences.

Web 2.0? – Live Web or as Michael says “Find others like you”.  Friending etc.  No 1 social site that Michael uses is Flickr – he is an image based person, so he loves it.  Can track his travels from his Flickr account.  Can also find him at Last FM – tracks what he is listening to on his Mac.  Michael has also has a Facebook profile.

Can make anything you want with image generators.

This is where we live – people are spending a lot of their social lives online – not just for the internet addict.  Lots of these sites, more and more being created every day.
All these sites are open, participatory and are about access.

Shared the Library 2.0 definition by Casey & Savistinuk – most important “physical and virtual services” and “consistently evaluating”.

Check out the Perceptions of Libraries and Information Sources and Sharing, privacy and trust in the networked world reports from OCLC.
96% of people had walked into a public library at least onece, 51% used IM and 30% had never heard of databases.  Users want seamless service and self-service options – think Google. They want seamless – not silos. Our websites are little versions of the library – they shouldn’t be.  “Books” are the library brand.  Only 1% surveyed used the library as their search starting point.   Why not visiting the library website – didn’t know it existed, other sites have better info, can’t find the site.Brian Mathews – social network will be ubiquitous – will expect it everywhere they go online – be able to tag, leave comments or reviews, wherever they go.

Pew Internet found that 36% of adults used Wikipedia. 8% were on it on any one day.  Make sure your library is on Wikipedia, including in the geographic area entries (ie. Council, suburbs, town etc). Add content, links – give it more value.

ACRL – put out a report (check slides) – need to do 3 things:
Evolve – reference signs have gone – welcome, ask here (Allen County), round tables for collaboration, transparent reference desk, with comfy chairs and flat screens and also IM service (NC library state uni), (MSN most popular in Australia). Dublin Library used PageFlakes to create a portal with feeds to the information you give it.  Georgia Tech Library did a welcome celebration free pizza, speed dating, music, poker, games, DDR, drama and more. (again Brian Mathews)  Didn’t talk about library resources, want them to find the library on their own.  YPRL using tablets for reference.  LC launched The Commons – a project with Flickr – hosting photos and inviting comments and tags.

Let go of control – (used the warning sign generator). If we don’t, we could lose both users and staff.  What stories are these libraries telling?   Showed signs banning phones – we should be banning the more concerning bad behaviour, not the technology.  Things we do can now go around the world – with a phone and a quick picture, then to Flickr and a blog and its publicised wider than your local library. PLCMC – Rules for the Loft – Respect yourself, respect others, respect the space.  Casey and Stephens – understand the people who are breaking the rules (Transparency column).  Walk through the library with users eyes – a teen even.

Be visible – Wyoming mud flap girl – caused controversy but was aimed at getting truckers in to borrow their audio books. Laptop Librarian – offers assistance in the dining hall. Librarian visits Panera cafe and offers library service, signs up members etc, answers questions.

“Cluetrain Manifesto” published in 1999, but foretold the advent of social networking. We can rally together online, make changes together online, share and discuss content online.  Cluetrain says Markets are conversations, Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy – and can go around the chain of command, get information out to people – ie. hacks to DRM.  Libraries can now communicate directly with teir users. Web is a little bit broken – hyperlinked organisation can be the same thing. Learn who to go around to get things done.

Organisational Chart – the hyperlinked library is more team based (although still need leadership), but it is focussed around the user, not a pyramid.

Technology is just a tool it is not going to save your library.  We need to understand technolust and should not be putting resources into things are users don’t want or will not use.

Transparency: technology storm – ie. locked down library website, technology plans without staff buy-in, siege mentality due to concerns about privacy, security etc – NO LONGER FLIES!

People want to talk to each other – open and honest conversations, open and honest decisions, speaking in a human voice.  Conversations among human beings sound human- we recognise PR speak. Make the library as flat as possible – Darien Library circ staff are blogging and buying for the collection – they know what the users are borrowing and requesting – even sending them to the Book Expo.  Going to the field – visit the front lines, examine different staffing models, develop big picture understanding (management). SJCPL has 30 bloggers contributing content to their blog, AADL website is blog based, State Librarian of Kansas is blogging her travels around her state.  Outside eg. Chief of Police in Nebraska is blogging – talking about crime, but in a human way and responding to comments, having a conversation.

Most important – Say Yes!

The Library tell stories:
Look for stories about the library and also give your users the chance to tell their stories. Gwinnett Library “Rock the Shelves 2005” on Flickr. National Library photos on Flickr. Storypalooza – make a video about the library and reading, put the video on the library website. (Gail Borden Library).
“Participatory Culutre” – Jenkin quote “consumers are transformed into participants”. Ohio Uni library tour podcasts, done by librarian and another by a student. Hennenpin County Book Space.

The Library is user driven:
Get out of the users way – don’t create problems.   Karen Schneider – The user is not broken. Our systems are a little bit broken when it comes to engaging the user. They want the information in the easiest way possible.  User driven service is user-centred, can involve the users, ask them what they want (link on website – prizes offered.  Listen to your users and to your front-line staff – they know the story of the library.  5 Factors to Consider – does it place a barrier between the user and the service, is it born from complaints from librarians or users, does it add more rules, does it make more work for the user or the librarian, does it involve damage control begin you even begin? eg. SJCPL Subject wiki – public can’t edit but can sugest. Biz Wiki – Ohio U.

Engage your users: Facebook search box – UIUC and Hennepin. Comments on the catalogue (Hennepin) and also Book Space.

Let them drive, let them participate, let them create.  Amazon now has user generated video reviews. Competitions on your social networking space.  Pew Internet study showed that 57% of US teens that created content online. Rest don’t have the technology at home to be able to do this. Might be well serving our users to come and create content to put online.  ie. podcasting station, place to blog etc.  AADL Tag Cloud shows the most popular searches on their catalogue. Hennepin County – images of reading Harry Potter.  Privacy concerns allayed by agreeing to terms of use and having it as opt-in.

Library uses trends as opportunities: social network federation – networks will be converging, be able to talk between networks – may come from one of the social networks or from a third party. Choosing among trends: good signs are that everyone is doing it, its being asked for, most importantly its fun!
Trendspotting – hand out current magazines and ask staff to look for trends that we may be able to tap into.  Our jobs are changing – both in content and in title.  Trend: citizen journalism – mobile phones and blogs can spread news which in turn can change everything.  Challenge of how these tools are challenging privacy, reputation and more. There are legal implications which are still being explored.  We can be educators in how to deal with our online presence – if its out there.  Google your library or chedck Technorati to find conversations about your library that you may not know is happening. Open source software is a trend, but its free as in kittens,not free as in beer – need resources to adapt it and keep it going.  Emerging Tech Group – group of staff who regularly meet to discuss new tech and how it may be used in the library (use a blog for the group).  Check out the books he recommends on the slides.  Are we failing to innovate because of fear. (Kathy Sierra)

The Library has presence: library is out in spaces where we might not expect it to be. Buckland quote “There is much greater opportunity to bring service to potential users wherever they may be”.  YouTube video puts the library out where people may see it.  Use profiles on social networking sites to give more background – make it a miniature website which then links back to your library website.  Google SMS service – text a message to Google.  Libraries using twitter to do current awareness on book titles, events etc, then has RSS feed which you can add to your website.

Library learns, plays and innovates.  Learning should be part of staff development, throughout the staff structure. Everyone should be experimenting with new technology. Well trained staff are a great marketing tool for your users.  Get sandboxes for staff, both virtual spaces and physical – where you bring the gadgets in for staff to play with. Best thing to do for staff is getting them set up with an RSS reader.

Discover and experience the new tools: Learning 2.0 program – can be scaled and adapted for users. (offer it for users?). Check out Hey Jude’s blog on learning 2.0 and schools.  Second Life – shopping, events and a library presence – what does it mean for libraries?  We are still finding out.  Ning – do it yourself social networking site – users get blogs, forums etc. Golden rule of innovation – say YES – encourage people to play.

Encourage the heart – we get into libraries because we care.

The Library knows me – personalisation is the big trend coming – other sites have been doing it for years and users will come to expect it from libraries.
The Library is human – use Flickr to show this.  “Bring your heart with you to work”. (David Warlick)
Throw out the culture of perfect – trial and error is OK, it might not work but that’s OK too, there are still thing learned.
Open Libraries – control fades, communication is up and down.
Create a culture of trust – trust your users, trust each other.

Everything we have talked about today is about a cultural shift, not just shiny new toys.  To move forward, ground them in the mission of your library and your long term plans.  Be selective, choose the tools that work best for your library and your user, use evidence to decide which ones.  Be sure to balance innovation with ROI.  The next big step is how we evaluate these Web 2.0 tools in our libraries.

Five things you can do now:
Be a trendspotter – Form an Emerging Tech Group – Try Learning 2.0 – Create a What’s New blog – Explore presence (ways in which you can put your library out in social networks).

Learn to learn.
Adapt to change.
Scan the horizon.


1 comment

3 pings

  1. Sukhdev Singh

    Good work – Hope everything has been transcripted.

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