Discover – Concurrent Session 2 – VALA 2012

Alison Delitt and Sarah Schindeler – NLA – Trove – the terrors and triumphs of service-based social media

Trove – free online search tool that brings together bibliographic records from libraries and archives. Best known for OCR, human corrected digitised newspapers.

Trove already has an interactive base – including lists, tagging, comments and more. Social media channel attached to it 18 months ago.

NLA has a Facebook page, Twitter channel and YouTube channel. NLA posts all of the content – using the corporate brand as the online identity. Use your brand to attract attention and followers – fits with a business model.

Difficulty in serving all our users in any depth, due to their diversity. Its both good and interesting, but can make it difficult for us to deliver content online which is appropriate for a large proportion of our users.

Social media is a free puppy – there is a cost – in generating content, monitoring and responding to users, archiving content, exploring new tools. NLA is investigating tools such as HootSuite to monitor their online social engagement.

More specialist channels, like British Library’s Magnificent Maps blog, Reel Culture, Dinosaur Tracking, From the Catbird Seat, Children’s Literature @ NYPL. Advantage of these is that you can focus in and users are more likely to tune in and engage with their content.

Unfortunately, we are not able to engage with all of our users, regardless of what we do. Our users and their interests are just too varied.

Results of their 12 month trial with social media. Had no resources to invest in social media, so there was no publicity or marketing of these presences. The first thing they did right was setting their aims for Trove’s social media:

To increase use of Trove

To increase the visiblility of Trove

To provide customer service to Trove

To solicit feedback about Trove, in order to improve the service

Getting it wrong was not thinking about which social media channels they should use. They thought they could re-purpose the content for use across different channels. They couldn’t do it easily.

Facebook didn’t work for them – there were some technical issues, but they weren’t able to resources many different feeds. Need to acknowledge that it is a far more interactive presence and requires more work than a broadcast medium like Twitter. So they moved away from Facebook quite quickly.

Twitter worked perfectly for them. Their aim of constantly exposing their content. Were able to use quirky humour. Thought it would be used differently than it was. Rather than linking to blog posts which contained multiple Trove links, they instead linked directly to digitised snippets. Side benefit was a huge growth in media interest in the content shared and in Trove itself.

Under-estimated how quickly and easy it was to communicate to and with their user base. When you treat your user with that sort of respect, you get a return of good will.

When you user has a win using your service, you are more likely to receive a complimentary tweet, than you are to get an email etc.

Twitter presence is not just about getting Twitter followers, but to get people to come into Trove itself.

There is a cost to not operating in this space. If we are not there, we are missing what people are saying about us and missing a chance to get your message out.

Tim Sherratt – Mining the treasures of Trove: new tools and technologies

1913 – the year that Canberra was officially founded. It was also the year before World War 1 began. Showed a word cloud based on articles from Trove which included the phrase “the future”. It included 11,000 articles. To make this job easy, Tim created a Python script which harvests the data in a form which you specify. Instead of 35,000 clicks, it was a handful.

Once the text files were returned, they were cleaned up. He was able to identify consistent OCR errors and bulk correct them. Once done, we combined them into one file and then put the file into Voyant (a text exploration tool). More refining to remove stop words, so that the more significant terms could come to the fore.

There are a number of tools besides Voyant, that enable you to explore text in interesting ways. Mallet will look at large amounts of text and identify themes (clusters). You have to do some work and decide what the clusters relate to. Natural Language Processing Toolkit (python resource) – enabled him to extract the next six words after a given phrase.

None of these are analyses on their own, they are starting points for future research. They are ways of peeking inside the dataset and helping to decide what approach to use. However, it can be rather slow.

How to speed up the process?

Used QueryHarvester which examined how many articles mentioned your search terms, as compared to the total articles for a year. He then used QueryPic to graph and create a html page which you can then add text to. It encourages exploration in a way that the Harvester alone does not. If you then click on the point on the graph, it then retrieves the first twenty articles from Trove. It gives another interface into the depths of Trove.

This channel is starting to be used by other people, including the Airminded blog. You can too – they are all available and free from Wraggelabs Emporium. Check his blog for more on what he is doing and how.

Why is he doing this? The nature of historical research is changing. In the past, we had scarce resources, but with digitisation, our trickle is becoming more like a flood. “nearly every day we are confronted with a new digital historical resources of almost unimaginable size” Dan Cohen (2008). Its even more true now.

Other tools are out there: Mapping Texts.

Researchers need “a methodology for the infinite archive” Bill Turkel (2006). Now that the historical resources are growing, we will be able to do so much more with the data we can harvest. We can start exploring in ways like never before.

Interfaces are just points of contact between us and the data. Interface development will happen everywhere and they will continue to be developed and alternatives created.

Check out the Australasian Association for Digital Humanities.

There are challenges around this material. One is the de-humanisation of data – the danger that we might forget what its about. We need to keep perspective, understand the human story behind the data.

Phillip Minchin – Stacks of fun: games, community, libraries, technology

Asked questions and used A4 coloured paper to get audience feedback. Consensus was that although most didn’t play games a lot, most considered them very important.

Books are very important and have a place in our lives, but are no longer enough.

Collections: lending is suitable for RPG book and for ones that don’t require registration. Also online subscription games. In-house is suitable for board and card games – is changing with advent of 3D printing and generic self-printing game pieces. Curation is suitable for rules-only games, free electronic games and PDF rule-sets. Subscription suitable (but not available) for: some online games, some ebook-based games. Unsuited to libraries, except as a venue: Collectable Card Games.

Gaming is much more common than most people realise. Part of the appeal of gambling is the gaming. There are a surprising number of games clubs around and they get big numbers. Conventions are big and friendly. Melbourne has a club called Cafe Games – something that libraries could be tapping into.

Gaming is a great way to build community. His library is looking at using games to connect two disparate local communities – older affluent and poorer migrants. Games are a good way because they are non-threatening and fun.

Games in the library: for managing teens/rowdies, chess/scrabble clubs, informal/self-organised play, games club (like book clubs), gamers are our people – geeks and libraries are a natural fit – most are heavy library users already, games and community also a natural fit – Herodotus story – read it in full paper.

Benefits – welcoming space, increased inter-patron interaction, more visitors and longer stays.

Drawbacks – increased potential for patron disputes, more stuff to keep track of, noise level management.

Shared spaces – noise has to be OK and games have to be amenable to audiences or new participants. Dedicated spaces – soundproofed, but preferably visible, but need to manage curiousity.

Games days – for specific well-known games, trying new games, BYO games, open games. Tournaments – if the game is sold commercially, the makers may well support you. Self-organising events – BYO games or open gaming events might well spawn these.

 International Gaming Day @ Your Library – First Saturday of November – 3rd.