I’ve been tagged

I’ve been watching as the librarian blogs I subscribe to get tagged. When you are tagged you have to post about 4 items related to specific questions about yourself. I can’t even remember how or where it started, but its been great learning about the people behind the blogs.

Anyway, I have been tagged now, by Exploded Library. Thanks a lot, Morgan! So here we go.

4 jobs I have had:
– newspaper girl
– icecream shop attendant
– checkout chick
– cash office clerk
Managed to barely escape a job at Maccas – can’t imagine where I’d be now if I’d gone down that track!

4 favourite movies:
– Shawshank Redemption
– Serenity
– Abyss
– The Dish

4 places I have lived:
– Cornwell, England
– Whyalla, South Australia
– Geelong, Victoria
– Melbourne, Victoria
(started out adventurous, calmed down later in life 🙂 )

4 favourite TV shows:
– Firefly
– West Wing
– MASH (even after years of repeats)

4 places I have gone on vacation:
– Philippines
– Japan
– New Zealand
– Ireland

4 sites I visit daily:
– Gold Token http://www.goldtoken.com
– Bureau of Meteorology http://www.bom.gov.au/
– My library website
– Google of course http://www.google.com.au

4 places I would rather be right now
– in bed
– on the other side of our new LMS installation
– New Zealand
– actually mostly where I am right now

4 favourite books (or series)
– All quiet on the western front – Erich Remarque
– This present darkness – Frank Peretti
– Elvis Cole series – Harlan Coben
– Harry Bosch series – Michael Connelly

4 songs
– Message to my girl – Split Enz (I’m going to the reunion concert, yahoo!)
– Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty
– Chariots of fire – Vangelis (had it at my wedding)
– Anything by Jars of Clay

4 cars I have owned
– Ford Escort
– Holden HB Torana
– Datsun 200B
– Nissan Pulsar

4 video games I can play over and over
– not a big video game player, but have been getting into Mario Kart
– love playing online backgammon, reversi, 4 in a row etc, etc
– getting hooked on Web Sudoku
– that’s it

4 of my favourite dishes
– Home made apricot chicken with scalloped potatoes and vegies
– Butter chicken
– Fajitas
– Mum’s spaghetti bolognaise

4 bloggers I am tagging:
– Rambling Librarian http://ramblinglibrarian.blogspot.com/
– You cried for night http://austlit.typepad.com/cfn/
– Curtin Colloquy http://curtincolloquy.blogspot.com/
– Phil Bradley’s weblog http://philbradley.typepad.com/

I’ve been mulling over my next entry, on email and its future, from my limited perspective. Should have it up soon!

Following on from Web 2.0, its Library 2.0

There has been so much discussion through the library blogs about Library 2.0 – is believed to have been first coined by Michael Casey on his blog Library Crunch. It has yet to be properly defined, in fact much of the discussion has been about what it is exactly.

However, within its core is using the elements of Web 2.0, which I explored in a previous post. It is libraries using blogs, wikis, social bookmarking and so much more to bring new and improved services to their current AND to reach out to non-users in a new and appealing (to them) way. It is another means of drawing more people to use the library.

I won’t say any more about that discussion here, as there is so of it and it is still very much ongoing. Instead I will refer you onto a lot of great reading that I encountered about what Library 2.0 is and what it means for libraries in all sectors.

Of course, being a Web 2.0 initiative means that there is a Wikipedia entry. Aaron at Walking Paper highlights the getting out there aspect, Michael Stephens at Tame the Web is enthusiastic about what the technology can be used for and the ALA TechSource blog has a number of entries from different authors with varying perspectives.

Rochelle at Tinfoil + Raccoon brings a hefty dose of reality, with the difficulties for libraries who don’t have the expertise or access to bring some of these technologies into their library and John Blyberg from blyberg.net brings an interesting view from a library service which is leading Library 2.0 type developments in the US.

Dave contributes in dave’s blog about whether it is all about technology and Steven M Cohen who has mainly stayed away from Library 2.0 hype gives his considered opinion at Library Stuff. The big reads in this discussion have been Talis with their white paper“Do libraries matter: the rise of Library 2.0” and library guru Walt Crawford’s great overview on everybody’s view in a special issue of Cites and Insights entitled “Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0”.”

All of these links are to particular articles in each blog. If you are interested, search around each blog and you will find plenty more.

That’s enough to keep anyone occupied for some time, it did for me!

And my opinion on all this? My opinion has wavered around quite a bit with all the reading that I have been doing and is still subject to change, considering any future developments and personal experiences. However, this is where I am at present.

With the plateauing of library use, our service has started reaching out to our users in more and new ways than ever before. This has included database, online book discussions, school visits, more community interaction and much more. I am also seeing the explosion of Web 2.0 tools being used in a myriad of ways. So I think that Library 2.0 has been going on for a while, that it is a reaching out to our current AND potential users in ways not done or envisaged before, the only thing new about it is the Web 2.0 tools that will become a part of that process. How big a part is yet to be determined, but as I am well aware, not all of our users are tech savvy and/or interested in these tools and they have as much right to be reached as those who are.

My part in this outreach will be more along the lines of the technology, but there are many others in my library service who will be reaching out in others way. We can all do our part and support each other in our endeavours. No one way is more important that another and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Next version of the Internet – Web 2.0

Have you heard of Web 2.0? If not, you will. You may not have heard of it using that terminology, but if you have read any other entries in this blog then you know about some of the elements that make up Web 2.0.

Although there are many definitons out there and many arguments about whether it is anything new or just hype, there is something to be said about how the Internet itself and its use, is changing. To me, Web 2.0 is about the Read/Write web. It is where Internet users not only absorb content, but then also go and create new content on the web. Reminds me of why we have fair use provisions in our copyright laws. The intent of that and the way Web 2.0 works, is by people taking existing work and building on it to create something new.

They are doing this new creating, using freely available and widely varying software tools available on the Internet, such as blogs, wikis and other social software, eg. social bookmarking, photo sharing, file sharing and so much more. If you heard of del.icio.us, My Space, Flickr or Technorati, then you are aware of just some of the more popular tools being used in what is known as Web 2.0. If you haven’t heard of them, check them out.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all teens diaries and party photos being shared. It is that, but it is more. Business is getting into blogs and wikis in a big way and libraries are making inroads into all the software tools that I mentioned above and creating their own.

There doesn’t seem to be any limit to what can be done with Web 2.0 tools as programming savvy people take existing structures and create new applications from them. Us less programming savvy people are then using those tools for purposes that weren’t necessarily envisioned at their creation. For example, a library user has created an application which sits on top of the Amazon webpage and enables him to check to see if a book he has found there, is available at his local public library. How cool is that!

What does it mean for the public library? The potential is almost limitless, because most of this software is web based and free. The only limits are our imagination and of course, getting our patrons interested and using the technology. Which brings me back to earth with a large thump.

I can get carried away and my workmates and husband will agree that I do so quite often. When it comes down to it, its all about the patrons, not the technology. So unless its something that is going to serve them better and get new people interested in their local library, its not something we will be doing.

Libraries are changing and Web 2.0 is one way – either with the technology or not, we will adapt and meet the needs of our varying users and potential users as best we can. I will be doing what I can with Web 2.0 to meet that particular niche of the market. Others in my service will be reaching out in different ways. But there is the similarity we have, whilst it is also the difference between the library now and in the past, we will be reaching out!

If you want to read more about Web 2.0, there is plenty of great stuff out there, including “What is Web 2.0: design patterns and business models for the next generation of software”, “Anti-Web 2.0” and “Web 2.0: building the new library“. In a future blog I will talk more about Web 2.0 in libraries, more commonly known now as Library 2.0.

Getting youth into the library

Apart from parents dragging them in to get stuff for their school assignment, how else do we get teens into our libraries. Well we want them willingly, so what are libraries doing that are getting them in and leaving them wanting more.

As I said in an earlier post, our library service has run a gaming night, which has been hugely successful. Held at 4 different libraries and with Runescape being the game of choice, it was great seeing the library full of young people – both willingly and happily. They left wanting it all over again. Each time (we have had it twice now), the kids were patient whilst awaiting their turns, helpful to less experienced players and generally well behaved. Wow, just the way we want our teens!

Gaming in public libraries is also a big drawcard in the US, where they have even started running conferences/seminars, such as the “Gaming, Learning and Libraries” Symposium in Chicago, as well as websites, library sites and blogs dedicated to these programs. Other particular gaming events which have been big drawcards include Dance Dance Revolution at
Thomas Ford Memorial Library.

That’s all fantastic and I am so glad our library is involved in gaming, encouraging it even, but how do we reach the kids who don’t game. What else can we do, how else can we reach them, because that’s what it is all about now, us reaching them where they are at, not expecting them to come to us first.

We can push our broadband access, the absolute minimum for any surfing teen. We can and have been out to schools: into classes and staff meetings, submitting and having printed, articles in school newsletters, all promoting our databases and website as the destination for research and assignments.

We can do more. We can get make Instant Messaging a necessary component of all our public PCs and offer an IM reference service. We can use blogs, its not that hard, to present library news and views in a format familiar to them, we can review our website for teen compatability and we can get past ourselves and talk to the kids as real people when they come in the door. With some of the trouble we have had with our teens, we have been getting some useful advice from our Council youth workers. Tap into those sorts of resources.

These kids are our users – potential and current, present and future. They deserve the same respect accorded our other users, all being fair and equal. However, because they are a different generation to most library staff, we will have to work a bit harder, so we can understand them and their needs, enabling us to create and deliver services that meet them where they are at. We want them using their local library – preferably by walking in the door, but we won’t be complaining about virtual visits!

We have staff in our service with some great ideas for teens. As they get off the ground and we see the results, I will keep you posted via this blog.

Know your youth audience

Before you can target and then market your services, you need to know the people you are marketing too. Although I know some of what our youth market is like from what I see at the desk and hear from other staff, that is only part of the total picture. What aspect of youth behaviour are we not seeing because we have nothing targeting it?

The good news is that I don’t have to do the hard work of research, because others far more qualified than I have already done so. This generation of youth, commonly known as the Net Generation or Millenials, were born between 1980 and 2002 (which encompasses my children – I don’t know if that’s good or not 🙂 )

Stephen Abram and Judy Luther in their Library Journal article “Born with the Chip”, give an awesome overview and relate it back to the impact on library services. The characteristics of this current generation are: format agnostic – they don’t care what from their information comes in; nomadic – they expect to get their information and entertainment whenever and wherever they are; multitasking – naturally able to navigate multiple applications; experiential – learn through doing; collaborative – instant messaging is the big indicator here, as well as team games and more; integrated – no separation between content and technology to them; principled – well-defined value system; adaptive – the facilities are available to assist any learning barrier; and direct – demands respect and say what they mean.

As a generation, without thinking about library services, there are enough challenges in dealing with people of these characteristics already. They know more than a lot of library staff do in terms of technology and can be intimidating in the least. However, as I said earlier, they are still part of our market and we not only need to but are obliged to serve them – with the best service possible. That means providing service which is relevant to them. Abrams and Luther layout some great recommendations in “Born with the Chip”, which are well worth investigating further.

Pew Internet is a non-profit research organisation that produces reports that explore the impact of the Internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. Two of their reports that have come across my desk and warrant further scrutiny are “Teen Content Creators and Consumers” and “Teens and Technology”.

“Teen Content Creators…” reports that more than half of online teens are content creators, nearly 40% read blogs, older girls are most likely to blog, teen bloggers are tech savvy and heavy Net users, big music and video downloaders and will pay for it online. “Teens and Technology” further reports that nearly 90% of teens are online, half of those on a daily basis; they are technology rich, have cell phones and use SMS, use email but prefer IM. Even if you just read the executive summaries of these reports and the many others that Pew Internet have produced, you will have learned much about this generation. All these conclusions have been supported by numerous other independent reports, too numerous to mention here.

All of these studies are North American based, but with the similarities between our teens and theirs, especially in terms of technology, they are definitely worth consideration.

So, before you can serve your audience, you need to know them. Mix this research with some one-on-one with your current youth users and you should have a good idea of what they want. Mix in a bit of observation and establish relationships with your local schools and you will have an even better picture of your audience.

How to serve them? In my next post I will explore ways in which library services are successfully reaching out to their teens.

What to do about our youth…..

I am not talking about the general problems involving youth in our society. I am no expert and don’t have the time or inclination to discuss it here. However, youth does impact our libraries today and will do so as our future adult users, so we need to be marketing ourselves to them.

Its no secret that young people think that libraries are uncool. That’s OK, that’s not a problem. We don’t need to be cool, we just need to be on their list of things to do. We have great stock on our shelves, in the way of books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and we have free internet access. So why aren’t the young people streaming in the door?

Well, some are, which is good and bad. At our libraries we have multitudes of young people coming into the library to use our free internet access – but a regular group of those young people cause a great deal of trouble, stress for our staff and discomfit for other patrons. It would be easy to just kick them out and get rid of the problem, but that could also result in getting rid of a large section of the market we are trying to reach.

Now I know that all young people are not trouble. I am friends with quite a few great teens, who love to read, or use the Net and who are no trouble at all. But when you are working with the public, it doesn’t seem like we have too many of them coming into our libraries.

So how do we get those teens to come in. How do we get more teens of every sort to use our libraries and make the most of all the resources we have available – not just the Net.

I guess getting them in the door first is the hardest part. Lately our library service has been having some success with a few events, namely Internet games nights, a knitting workshop, cartooning and more. We get invaded by a wave of teens, who have an awesome time and leave with good impressions of their local library.

Its a start, but in our area we have the highest proportion of young people in our State, so we have to do more. They are not only our current users, but our future users who will hopefully bring their children and their children’s children to the library, whatever form that is in. Knowing that, it makes it even more important to make sure we are reaching them now.

How? I will be exploring that issue in upcoming posts. So stay tuned!

Future trends that libraries need to be aware of

As I have noted before, I have a load of reading, from journals and many blogs (thanks oh you faithful bloggers) and time and time again I find themes within my reading. The one I am blogging today is Future Trends.

Libraries have been around in some form for centuries, but never have they had to cope with so much change as now. Technology developments, which really started impacting public libraries in the latter half of the 20th century are now happening more quickly and its all we can do to keep in touch. Not only that, but we have to decide which is appropriate for us to get on board with and which ones are safe to ignore. It could be our futures in those decisions, if we don’t keep pace with our users needs and expectations. How useful it would be to be able to anticipate them and meet them before they reach critical mass. We can’t but we can make studied guesses, so useful reading, such as those items I am about to discuss, are vital in helping us to stay one step ahead.

The Technology Watch List for Small Libraries gives a good survey of things to watch for. It comes from Web Junction – which is a useful source to be tapped into, if you are not already. It recommends the things to keep watch on and ultimately be involved in (if appropriate of course).

Amongst those are Application Service Providers – where you pay monthly fees to service providers to use their tools over an Internet connection. Blogs and webmail already work as ASPs, but for free. Paid services include library blog hosting. My immediate thought is not here, not yet. We aren’t ready and when we do head down that path (which we will), I hope that we will be in a position to host this sort of thing on our own servers. If not, it could be a viable option.

The rest we are already into or will be: digital preservation, wireless access, blogging and RSS, thin-clients (although the jury is still out on whether they are a good thing or not) and e-books/audio books. Nice to know that others recommend the type of directions we are already considering or taking.

The daVinci Institute puts out some very thought provoking articles, the relevant one here being The Future of Libraries: Beginning the Great Transformation. It commends that libraries stay on top of communication systems and technologies, because they are ever changing. Storage will become tiny, yet enable us to store much. Search technology will become more complicated. One that we are already seeing is the fast lane – our patrons have too much to do and too little time, so they will have more needs faster – we will need to be able to match them on that. Verbal input will ultimately take over from keyboard and global systems will become much more ubiquitous. Global information will be more greatly desired – especially that which has not before been available in English and there will be a move from a product base to an experience-base. Finally, even as libraries in our state are moving towards a community hub, expanding on Libraries Building Communities, DaVinci’s last trend is that libraries will move from being information centers to cultural centers. The suggestions and recommendations are well worth investigating further.

Finally, the EDUCAUSE Evolving Technologies Committee presented their findings at their annual conference. A summary of their white papers was published as “TomorrowLand: When New Technologies get newer” in EDUCAUSE Review November/December 2005. The areas they considered are having the most impact on higher education. Although I am a public librarian, we are seeing the same sorts of things happening in the local public library.

These papers recommend that institutions (and I believe our public libraries too), need to get more involved in Wireless access, portals, IT Outsourcing, Gaming and collaboration tools. We have just launched our first Wireless Hotspot at our main branch – not free unfortunately, it is Telstra sponsored, so patrons must have an account with them, but its a start. Portals aren’t even on our radar yet, IT Outsourcing has been part of our technology plan for years and Gaming and Collaboration tools are on the radar, but we haven’t identified how its going to work for us yet.

Its hard enough coping with the technology we have today, but that’s more because we are running behind. If the trends that these and many other papers are suggesting will happen, do happen, then we will have to run a lot faster to get ahead and be in the best position to serve our community. Ready to run? I don’t know if I can keep up, let alone overtake, but I’m willing to try!

When even your friend is against you……

I love technology, as you are probably well aware if you know me or have read any of the other of my blog entries. But sometimes even I am not impressed by it when it doesn’t work properly.

Take tonight for example. I am sitting down to blog – something I haven’t done in a month for a multitude of reasons. First problem – I upgraded my browser and lost my automatic sign-ins that I had fixed in the old browser. That’s OK, just login in and save the details for next time. Second problem, I can’t remember my password, which then extends to not even being sure of my login. Whoops!

Blogger is great on the second problem, both parts of it, in that it has password recovery procedures to get you back in and will even help if you can’t remember your login. So I try all the alternatives and await the one email which will inform me which of the guessed logins is the correct one. And I wait, and I wait, and I wait. In the meantime, my virus checker keeps starting up, to check an email which never seems to arrive and because it doesn’t arrive, neither does my Blogger login or password.

Finally, after a lot of mucking about, the virus checker starting email is sorted out, I get the one email I need with my real login (which I hadn’t guessed) and I’m off and running. Or so I thought. Then for some reason, maybe its the virus checking another dodgy email, I can’t get an edit page up to commence this blog entry. It took me 3 stops and reloads to finally get here.

Now I know that some of these problems were my fault – like forgetting my logins and not recording them somewhere just in case – a lesson in point of not trusting the technology too much I guess. But I am not the only one to blame. Another is people who send you vastly oversized graphics files at Christmas (if you are one such person, please think of the person at the receiving end, who although you think they may enjoy the content of your email gift, may not have the connection to be able to enjoy it before July 2006!). Then I will add our ISP who we will be leaving shortly due to inconsistent and unprofessional service with our broadband connection – such as it is at times. I could probably come up with some more, but those are the obvious ones.

But enough whining. Christmas is nearly upon us and there is not enough satisfaction to be gained from blaming a machine. However, even after this short level of IT frustration, I know that my devotion to it will be renewed in the morning, regardless of tonight’s occurrences. Kind of like my own personal reset button!

The very sobering thought in all this is that even though I will reset, what about our patrons who use the technology, but aren’t as immersed or as forgiving of it when things don’t go right. Or who don’t understand why things go wrong and don’t know what to do about it. Many of our library users are like that. That is who I have to keep in mind with all the potentialities available to us in the years ahead. Thus endeth the lessons…… 🙂

I was planning on talking about the future trends I have been reading about in this entry, but its getting too late now so I will get to that next time. In the meantime, to those who have dropped in for a quick read, thanks for spending some time with me here. I hope I have contributed something positive for you. If not, stick around and I’ll see what I can do in 2006. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Its a great read!

Life and blogging have not been conducive to each other lately. So while I am trying to get my head around some ideas that I will eventually write about, I decided that I would refer my readers to some of the great reads that I have enjoyed lately on a variety of topics. I highly recommend that you check them all out.

However, please note that having decided on this as a blog entry, that I will have to do this again, as some of the great reads I have enjoyed, I can’t quite lay my hands on at present. Therefore, consider this part 1. 🙂

“Future of public libraries” from Tim Rogers at InfoCommuner gives a very people oriented look at the future of public libraries in a digital age. Very nicely done and very relevant and just a step or two further from what we already do.

For those who are wondering about, but not necessarily waiting for, Windows Vista to arrive (formerly known as Longhorn), check out the review by APC Mag. I was going to give Vista a total miss, but now I am not so sure, as there are some very nice inclusions. See what you think.

Peter Jacso editorialised about Informed and Underinformed Librarians, emphasising the importance of keeping on top of things in all aspects of our work, not just in technology.

Wendy Boswell at Lifehacker gives a quick and useful lesson on How to search the Invisible Web. Some very quick and easy hints for anyone who searches the Internet.

For those just learning about blogging and bloggers (like me), Comscore has produced a research report on Behaviors of the Blogosphere, an exploration of weblog audiences. Very interesting.

And last but not least, a great blog entry on Wikis (after all, it refers back to my previous entry on Wikipedia 🙂 ) from CW at Curtin Uni in WA.

There is so much great information out there, freely available, to help us all do the best we can for our library users. Why not make the most of it!

Wikipedia – My experience of it

Before talking about Wikipedia, for those of you who don’t know what a Wiki is, here’s the description straight from the source, Wiki.org.

“The simplest online database that could possibly work.

Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly.”

I use Wikis on one of my gaming sites, there are wikis being used for group collaboration on projects and in professions and even on library websites. A very useful tool.

Wikipedia, is an online collaborative Wiki encyclopedia, where entries are produced not by appointed knowledge specialists, but by anyone who wants to contribute. It is free to access and edit and at present, the English version (there are versions in 9 other languages) contains over 800,000 articles.

The debate has been raging over Wikipedia on several fronts. An October 2005 CNet review gave it a rating of 6.3. It achieved this average rating because CNet belives it is “Vulnerable to vandalism; some Wikipedia sections still under construction; lack of kids’ resources; uninspiring interface; demands Web access”.

Funnily enough, the users who reviewed Wikipedia on the same webpage, gave an average rating of 8.1. As some users pointed out, there is an offline version (wow!) and its cons as CNet sees them, can also be strengths. Being vulnerable to vandalism also means that anyone can edit and this can be a positive thing. Studies have been done including the smallscale Isuzu experiment, with people editing in false information and within a few hours at the most, it was corrected. There are checks and balances in place for vandalism.

This is not to say that Wikipedia is totally accurate – I don’t believe it is, nor can it be. But then again, neither is Encyclopaedia Britannica, the one tome to which all encyclopedias aspire to be.

The Guardian Unlimited tested Wikipedia using their panel of experts to review subjects in their fields. Out of the 7 reviewers, there was a 0, 5, two 6’s, two 7’s and an 8. The main criticisms were not surprisingly – inaccuracy but then writing style!

As for under construction, that can be an advantage also. As Steven Cohen pointed out at his “What’s Hot & New in RSS, Blogs and Wikis” session at Internet Librarian 2005 (as noted by Dave’s Blog), no other encyclopedia had information immediately available on Hurricane Katrina.

You may have gathered by now, that I am a fan. I am becoming more of a fan everyday, especially as I do internet searches and see that Wikipedia comes out in the top results more and more often.

Wikipedia has mixed support amongst librarians. Some berate it as inaccurate and as not an expert authored source, which is true. Others are fans for the same reasons I am and more. There is much being published about teens and their 2 way involvement in the internet. Will Richardson in his IL05 Keynote (
as blogged by Jenny at Shifted Librarian
) explained that he loves Wikipedia because it encourages the teens to interact with the content, question it and research, not take it at a face value because it’s in print.

I am a fan because it gives me a heads up when I am looking for information on a subject with which I may not be familiar. Its free, its easy to access and although I know it’s not going to be entirely accurate, much will be and I will verify it with other sources. But more importantly for me as a reference librarian, it gives me a familiarity with the subject in question and arming me with that information, it acts as a launching pad to find more.

Kudos to the contributors at Wikipedia, I appreciate your time and effort in helping to provide a great source of information on a wide range of topics. As for the critics, if they stopped just criticising and took part in ensuring the content was accurate (and well-written) it would be even better!