March 5, 2010

Games and Libraries – Wendy Leseman (akla10)

started out playing “Just Dance” on the Wii (whoo-hoo!)
Wii is a great place to start
when you’re ready to learn how to use a Wii, send your 12-year old out of the house because they show you too quickly πŸ˜‰
you can teach yourself to do this (really, you can)

why gaming?
– connect with patrons who are gamers; they love it when you show an interest in something that’s important to them; it’s good to know about gaming regardless of what type of library you’re in
– promote multiple types of literacy
– increase traffic
– it’s fun

applied for ALA’s Gaming, Learning, and Literacy grant with the Verizon Foundation
got $5000, $4000 of which was spent on Wiis & DDR for each library in the school district
had a few logistical problems but money from the Verizon Foundation was slow in coming, which forced some changes
she also loans her equipment out to teachers
also exploring having kids create games using Scratch

$1000 for gaming at her school – computers, console, and board games
kids have become the experts and help each other

they do a family fun night at least once a year
Wendy sets up DDR and Guitar Hero + Band Hero
PS2s aren’t as versatile as the Wii but can still be good to get you started, especially with DDR
had trouble finding games that would run on their old computers
– used Civilization, a vet game, Star Wars (which is the most popular and is her only T game)

gets shy and non-sports kids involved
it’s fun to watch them socialize and help each other

now we’re playing group Backseat Drawing – awesome!

showed some books with game themes
they also read a lot of guides and cheats – they do a ton of reading around gaming

mentioned “Libraries Got Game” by Brian Mayer and Chris Harris and their alignment of board games with AASL’s standards (much love in the room for this)

Wendy was supposed to defend the grant to the school board because they weren’t sure they wanted to accept “gaming” money, but they had already accepted it by the time she got there

examples of computer strategy games – Spore (although her older computers won’t run it), Civilization

showed ALA’s Online Toolkit for librarians

free online games, which often have a cause-related theme (hunger, justice, etc.)
in her district, anything that has “game” in it is automatically blocked, so she works with them to let certain ones through

Games for Change
Genesee Valley’s database of games let you search by game time and ROI


3:59 pm Comments (1)

The Mind of the Researcher – Daniel Russell (akla10)

Daniel Russell, Google Search Quality & User Happiness
2010 Alaska Library Association Conference, opening keynote speaker

Lewis & Clark left without a decent map
it’s a complicated world out there and you don’t want to end up like the Donner Party (hey, go that way; it looks good)
what does the current information map look like?
let’s be adventurers but keep our eyes and minds open

did a demo of Google Earth
cost to put the flyover together = $0 and four minutes of time
Google will crawl it within 48 hours
when Lewis & Clark published about their trip, it took 10 years
we see the world differently, and the library isn’t what it used to be
stacks are no longer a core competence – the information landscape has radically changed

1200 exabytes of new content are generated each year (1.2 yottabytes if that helps or 1.2 billion terrabytes)
3.6 zetabytes per person per year (mostly music and video)
libraries don’t have to curate and manage that – it stream to you
text words per pseron per year = .1% of that total
the good news is that the amount of reading per person per year has gone up by 3X since 1980 (primarily due to internet access); happening online, not print
so need to develop new skills and new literacies

showed Google Books
can click on the places in a book and travel to all of them
can actually recapitulate Huck Finn’s journey down the river

LoC has 10 terabytes of text data or .01 petabytes
he has 2 LoCs at home
an exabyte = 50,000 years of DVD or 10 billion copies of The Economist (there aren’t enough trees in Alaska to print them all)

we’re supporting this renaissance of access to print culture at the same time we’re expanding online content
1.5 million out of copyright books that can be printed for $8 each

do you care about all of this as long as you can get to the stuff that you care about?
what Google is trying to figure out is how can I read your mind from the couple of words you gave me – which pages you want to see of theirs out of all of those exabytes of data?
it’s not just text anymore

mentioned Hans Rosling’s TED talk about visualizing statistics
mentioned Baby Names Voyager
Google bought software to add visual statistics to Google Docs
the cool part is I can type my name and see when my name peaked
is this a book? no. is it a visualization? yes. but it’s also interactive. where/how do I catalog this?
these kinds of interactive documents allow you to understand in ways that were not possible before
showed what happened to names that begin with vowels during the 40s and 50s – “the valley of the vowels”
the answer to what happened is in the hard consonants
no one knew this until they could see it in this visualization
our notion of what constitutes information and librarianship is changing

how do people search now?
suppose you’re Google and you get the query “jaguar” – what do they want?
one of the differences about being Google though is that you’re at a reference desk where a billion people a day ask the question

what about “iraq?” today, it’s the way; 15 years ago, it was probably antiquities
Google sees queries shifting a lot
“latest release Thinkpad drivers touchpad” = I know exactly what they want
“ebay” = in the top 10 most popular queries in English per day
“google” is also in the top 10 queries per day – why?? are they trying to cause the recursive meltdown of Google’s servers?
there are 20,000 ways to mis-spell “Britany Spears” (and they all want pictures of her)

one of the interesting things they do is use machine-generated algorithms
they don’t have to mis-spell a new celebrities name 20,000 times – their users will do that for them
that’s how informaiton works now

he goes to peoples’ homes a lot to talk to them and watch their behavior
showed a video clip of someone searching at home for which celebrity has won the most Oscars
(she was pretty confused with the results she was getting – didn’t realize she had moved into the “Google News” section)
she has a graduate degree, runs her own website, and has her own tv show
the equivalent of watching someone looking at a textbook in the library and wondering why she’s suddenly looking at the news
this is why he has a job πŸ˜‰
he sees problems in the world and tries to fix them

weekly statistics:
3.9 visits per user
9.4 searches per user
11.2 search clicks per user
4 minutes duration
29% query refinement rate
they’re not spending a lot of time in “the stacks”

66% of their users have less than one query per day
average query length is less than 3 words
the “very confident” people in a Pew study search multiple times per day (34%)
success makes them search more often
92% feel confident in their searching ability
you don’t get good doing anything less than once per day (for four minutes, no less)
55% call themselves an “expert searcher” (despite how little I use the system)

they’re happy when they get a result from a search
people think of expertise as being socially-normed
“all of my friends say I’m the best searcher” – you want to say you’re good
people like to take on tasks they can succeed at
showed an example where the difference in the question was “ghost town” vs “abandoned city”
the “ghost town” people didn’t do well searching and were unhappy – took them a lot longer to find the information
librarians are synonym professionals
“functional fixed-ness” – being stuck on a search term, not being able to think of a synonym

Google is trying to convert people from the “ghost town” group to the “abandoned city” group
they can see improvement over time

but the information landscape is so complex

Google launches about 10 products per week, although more are invisible (tweaks to the algorithm, etc.)
but so far this year (and it’s only March 5), they’ve launched:
a really long list of things
these are all things that happened to our information landscape in the last two months
new kinds of content are coming online all the time
3D models in SketchUp
“what’s a flying buttress? let me show” vs a 2D picture in a Time-Life book

new kinds of querying information
eg, Google Goggle – “Google, what’s that?”
“your cellphone – it’s not just for typing anymore”
“wait – when did cellphones become standard for typing?”
taking a picture of a book gives you the metadata about it (same for a bottle of wine, etc.)
you don’t have to type as much anymore
the way you interact with Google is changing

with Google Earth, if you fly to the Prado in Madrid, you can fly into the building and even into one of the pictures; they’ll throw you out of the building if you try that in Spain
get a level of detail you can’t see if you go there

Google Flu Trends
can tell when flu outbreaks are happening around the world by watching for where queries are being made from
showed chart that illustrates Alaska got it worse than other places and the outbreak peaked in October
anyone can run queries in Google Trends

how do you find Google Translation Services? it’s not a book on a shelf
“when in doubt, search it out”
they’re working radically fast to change our world

Quantam ESP experiment
showed the old “psychic rabbit” trick with playing cards
the point is that everything changes
you can’t pay attention to everything
you’re smart – why didn’t you remember all of the cards? because he told you to focus on one
there’s lots of stuff going on with your perception and what you’re paying attention to

what have you noticed? what have you not noticed?
no one notices things like the little arrow that expands the map or lets you pan around the map and the “more” link
nobody sees these things – he has the logs to prove it
they’re focusing on what they’re trying to do
“perceptual or change blindness”
showed the difference between a Google Map from 5 years ago versus today
nobody noticed the results moved from the right side to the left
they change things all the time and nobody notices

how do we learn? how do we help our patrons learn?
it’s not like they’re shipping a new version of an OS – they’re changing everything all the time, every day
and it’s not all nicely curated or indexed
that’s the growth rate we have to be thinking about

“how do we help our patrons”
of the 4 Rs, the fourth one is really “research”
in order to write comprehensively and deeply, you need to do deep research
it’s not just looking up a call number – that’s just the beginning
this is no longer optional – now the whole culture has to understand this, not just librarians

analysis from 40 interviews:
everybody knows what a query is, what a result is
but no one knows what “search on page” and “search in results” mean
it’s not helped by clickbombs like the “miserable failure” search results
if you’re not on the inside with a mechanism to understand how this stuff works, you think Google is monkeying with the system, even though they aren’t; someone else is
most people don’t understand “classic search engine optimization”
makes it impossible to have a coherent mental model for how the web works

without a detailed model, we’re “cargo cultists” (New Guinea)
when someone tells you to reboot the router to get wireless back, you’re a cargo cultist
“never click up there”

“I dunno how it works. I just type words, and answers come back to me… about anything… anything at all…” – student
within his realm, he was a good searcher
developed vocabulary and domain knowledge around expensive watches but can’t find the capital of Alaska

when you’re in WestLaw, you have to know how to make the operators work
in Google, you have to know how to come up with good search terms

6 kinds of knowledge & skills needed to search:
– pure engine technique (choosing good terms, double quotes, etc.)
– information mapping (reverse dictionary, contents of domains, Wikipedia, etc.)
– domain knowledge (medical knowledge, plumbing knowledge, etc.)
– search strategy (knowing when to shift strategies, move from wide to narrow, preserving state, etc.)
– assessment (how do you assess the credibility of a resource? a lot of this is tied up in domain knowledge, which 16-year olds don’t have)
– site-specific knowledge (knowing how a site works, is laid out, etc.)

basic skills:
– Control-F to find
– tabs (how to use effectively to organize search)
– keyword query choice (effective choices; low/high frequencies terms)
– tactics (when to focus on particular resource)
– strategies (how long to pursue a tactic; when to switch; how to discover)
– understanding what you find (reading for understanding SERPs; not “overreading”)

teaching research skills
– want people to understand the world and do research so they understand the world
– not just web search skills
– authority assessment
– crap detection
– staying on task
– discovery
– notetaking
– data integration
– representation construction

findings:
1 – very uneven individual level of search skill (everyone showed at least one “deep” skill; everyone showed at least one mistaken understanding; 90% wished they knew how to search better, but only 10% will take a class)
search behavior patterns
users don’t know the names of parts or recognize them (including URL, site, query; it’s hard to search for things you can’t name; don’t want to click on that because it might bring up porn)

2 – comfort level is VERY important
users choose familiar over scary
people tend not to explore things they dn’t know
they worry about finding porn
they worry about having unkonwn things happen when they click on strange links
– education is accidental
– people are not good reporters of their own behavior (“I don’t have a toolbar; I don’t do image search”)

3 – people don’t know much about Google as a whole (an opportunity for librarians)
they don’t know what’s possible
a CTO who didn’t know how to find Google Maps to find a pub in Palo Alto
a PhD cognitive psychologist didn’t know about Google Scholar
– target site knowledge is critical

where do we go next?
– there is a big, big, big need for help – it’s not all intuitive; they can’t yet do mind-reading
– huge range of mental models among users
– users, for the most part, have little idea what’s possible in web search or how to use it effectively
they’re learning accidentally from peers or from librarians
we’re looking at an information-illiterate population
no one else is showing them

– show them the shape of the information landscape
– teach your patrons
– make time to continually educate yourself (you’re now enrolled in a permanent education process; if you miss it for a couple of years, good luck catching up)

everything is shifting and moving faster, so make time for continual self-improvement
“be the Lewis, be the Clark” – communicate this stuff to our patrons
be the core of discovery for patrons


1:23 pm Comments Off on The Mind of the Researcher – Daniel Russell (akla10)

February 24, 2010

Library 2.0: Not Just for Users

The concept of “Library 2.0” has been around long enough now that we’ve gone through all the stages and argued it to death, as noticed by Andy Woodworth in a post titled Deconstructing Library 2.0. That’s a good thing, and you should go read his thoughts on the subject.

No matter which side you of the debate you come down on, you can probably prove your case. Me? I agree with Andrew Burkhardt when he notes, “The time has come for libraries to be social on the web. Social is the new normal. It has become mainstream and people expect it. Library 2.0 is not dead, it has just become boring and commonplace. And to quote Clay Shirky, ‘Tools donÒ€ℒt get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.’ Ò€

In his paper Participatory Networks: The Library As Conversation, Dave Lankes said that “libraries should focus on the phenomena made possible by the technology,” not the technology itself, which I think is a pretty good way of thinking about “Library 2.0.” Maybe that’s where we are now, which would be a great way to continue the discussion, hopefully without the moniker. I think several of us thought that’s what we were doing, but it didn’t come across that way.

The hard part, though, is that Library 2.0 doesn’t really replace anything. Like so many library services, the opportunities these new tools afford us are in addition to everything we’re already doing, which causes problems, because we don’t get additional resources to implement them. To serve as many of your users as possible, you have to be in as many of the places where they are as possible. That principle has been the philosophy behind this site from day one, eight years ago. That means being out in your community physically and digitally, and that’s one of the pieces of L2 that I think was never adequately explained.

We’re already pretty good at getting out from behind the physical reference desk. We know how to do it, and we know how we could do it better given more resources. I worry that this is less true in the online world, and that’s where I always hoped L2 would help. As much as I support, love, and advocate for user-centered planning and design, my big regret about the whole “movement” is that it hasn’t focused more on how L2 helps staff.

So that’s what I tend to concentrate my own presentations on – the practical ways in which these new tools can help you. I’ve been a big promoter of RSS since 2002, and I still don’t understand why libraries don’t use it more. Yes, one of the benefits of syndicating content is that your users can subscribe to it, but equally important for me is that it allows me as an organization to get my content off my website so that it’s more visible where my users are. Most importantly, it automates that process so that I don’t have to spend precious resources manually updating a multitude of sites, inevitably forgetting about one of them. The fact that I can syndicate lists of new materials from my OPAC anywhere without human intervention? Priceless.

Why should your library have a blog? There are many benefits, but my biggest reason is because it gets your current news and announcements in a syndicated format, the display of which you can automate anywhere. You can easily recycle your content to Twitter, Facebook, elsewhere on your website, and more. Talk about a great way to get out into your community – how about displaying your current news on the village, park district, school, or a department website without any ongoing effort on your part? That’s a huge win-win in my book. And as someone who manually generated archives for daily posts before there were “blogs,” let me just sing the praises of automatic archiving for a moment. If you’re not using a blog for press release-like information, do not pass go. There’s a better way that makes you more efficient and has all of these ancillary benefits with cherries on top.

Being able to offer inexpensive options for chat reference so that you can concentrate on implementation rather than budget? Win. Being able to embed that chat window on your website, in databases, on Facebook, etc., without a huge effort? Win times one million. Putting immediate, synchronous access to a librarian back into the catalog by embedding a chat window there? Win times infinity.

Having easy-to-use alternate announcement channels where you can also talk with and hear from your users (eg, Twitter)? Full of win. Same thing with social bookmarking (delicious – all of your library’s bookmarks in one place, searchable, embeddable), social pictures (Flickr, where you no longer have to worry about resizing images), wikis (cheap intranet possibilities), embeddable subject guides with syndication (LibGuides), and more. They all have the potential to make your job easier. How often does that happen?

So, Andy is right to ask questions about Library 2.0 and reflect about its impact, as are the commenters on his post. For me, though, one place L2 has failed is in making staff understand that these tools can offer big benefits for them, not just library users. If we’re adopting tools to make ourselves more efficient (which I think is the best way to evaluate implementation for staff), then that counts as success in my view. If it reaches new users, offers new services for existing members, or makes things better in general for users at the same time, then we’re really doing something right. That piece is more difficult to measure, which makes the L2 debate somewhat moot, since no one can really prove or disprove it. But when done well, Library 2.0 should help you in your job, too.

I hope we see more articles and presentations about that, instead of rehashing pointless and divisive debates about names, generations, and “sides.”


January 26, 2010

You Don’t Know Me

Or, if you work at certain companies, you do. Or could.

I had some interesting conversations about privacy at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting, which got me thinking about which companies probably know the most about me.

I’ve thought about my own “walled garden” a lot and worked through what I’ll share publicly, privately, and pretend privately. Most things I share publicly, and you can see a list of many of the sites I use on my FriendFeed account. It’s not difficult to piece together information about me by tracking these sites, but overall I’m more careful with specific things like location information.

The routine I’ve worked out is that Facebook is my only truly private posting area, although I do occasionally post some pictures for “friends and family only” on Flickr. Since I still don’t trust Facebook to not re-publish or claim ownership of “private” content (like pictures and videos), I don’t post anything original there except status updates and comments on friends’ updates. Even then, I don’t kid myself that those things are truly private (they’re the “pretend privately” I mentioned above). That’s why I’ve become a lot more selective about who I’ll friend there, and why I post some Foursquare location updates there (rather than on Twitter).

So if you can find out so much information about me publicly, which companies know the most about me? It’s been a very thought-provoking exercise to come up with the following list. I tried to rank the companies in order of how much daily information I think they’re accumulating about me, but it’s tough to decide if “what I’m eating” equals “what I’m watching.”

  • Cell carrier/cellphone maker – they know my location at any given time, plus all of the data that goes through my phone (and I don’t have a landline, so everything goes through my cell)
  • Cable company = they know what I watch on TV and what I surf on the net
  • Bank = they know most of the places where I spend my money
  • Credit cards = they know a lot of places I spend my money
  • LISHost – hosts my website and email, which would include a lot of receipts for online purchases
  • Google = knows most of the things I search for and many things I read (via Google Reader); even though I don’t use Gmail, any email I send to Gmail users is in their archives
  • Amazon = knows about a lot of things I purchase and read (including via my Kindle)
  • Facebook = knows a lot about what I say about myself via status updates and who my friends are
  • FriendFeed (now owned by Facebook) = aggregates a lot about what I say about myself publicly online, plus which conversations and people I watch on the site
  • Netflix = knows a lot about what I watch
  • Foursquare = knows some about where I am/go
  • Flickr = knows a lot about where I am/go, who my friends/contacts are, and what interests me
  • Twitter = knows my network and who I interact with the most
  • Health care provider = I’m lucky that I’ve been relatively healthy, but my provider(s) know about any problems
  • Delicious = knows a lot about sites I’ve visited and want to remember
  • Dopplr = knows my trips and some of my friends
  • Evernote = knows about some things I want to remember, although I haven’t put much personal information there yet
  • Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) = I don’t drive nearly as much as I used to anymore, but IDOT knows when I go on tollroads

Obviously I’m okay with what I share publicly, and in many respects, there have been enormous benefits to doing that, but I have very little control over what these companies do with the information they’re collecting about me, and I don’t trust any of them. I think the only company I do trust is LISHost, which hosts my website and email (thanks, Blake!). How much do I really care that Facebook keeps my status updates forever, whereas my email provider keeps my more private messages? And how much do I worry that my private email still goes through my cable provider’s network to get to LISHost?

I’m trying to recognize which companies are collecting ambient information about me, without me proactively posting anything. I’m sure I’m missing some, though. If you’ve thought through this yourself, what’s not on my list?


6:44 am Comments (8)

January 11, 2010

One Approach to Org Twitter Accounts

I’ve been mulling over this post for several weeks now, but a conversation that happened on Twitter today prompted me to finally write and publish it. It started when Kenley Neufeld wrote a post about participating in ALA and tweeted the link. Cyndi E. engaged Kenley in a conversation about ALA following its members back on Twitter, which led Kenley to ask ALA’s Midwinter Meeting account what its follow policy is.

what's your follow policy?

Well, I work for ALA, and I run that account (along with three others), plus my personal one. The “royal” ALA has no official social media policy, although there is an internal staff task force working on one. I’m not on that group and I haven’t wanted to step on any toes, which is why I haven’t said much online about this topic, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought through some things for the accounts I manage. Given today’s conversation, I thought I’d share my approach and solicit feedback for what you think is and isn’t working.

Before I go any further, though, I want to note that I kind of fly by the seat of my pants with this stuff at work. I already have a couple of full time roles (as does pretty much everyone at ALA HQ), and tracking what’s said about MPOW online is pretty near impossible these days. Amongst the good and bad about the American Library Association, the term “ALA” also gets used for A List Apart (especially when they publish a new issue), the abbreviation for “Alabama” in news reports, Ala Moana in Honolulu, ala mode, “ala” meaning “in the style of,” in Spanish, and more. I do the best I can, but no one person could catch it all unless it was their only job responsibility. I know a lot of folks struggle to get support from the top in their organization, and I’m lucky that this isn’t one of the battles I have to fight.

All of which is my way of saying, your mileage may vary, even within ALA. These are just my thoughts for how I’m handling four Twitter accounts at work, and I’d love to hear how you think I could do this better. Maybe this list willl even give you some procedural ideas for your own institution’s efforts.

I mainly monitor and manage Twitter and FriendFeed accounts, so that’s where I focus my efforts. I’m lucky that others have taken on the mantle of managing ALA’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Second Life, and YouTube presences. These are the guidelines I’ve been following for Twitter (I still need to implement most of these on FriendFeed).

  1. My goals for the accounts are to listen, answer questions, interact, and inform.
  2. I follow most public accounts that follow us, as long as its not a spammer, bot, or “social media expert” who has thousands of followers. I don’t have anything against the gurus, but they’re not the audience I want to interact with. It may take me a week to log in and follow all the new folks, but that’s my goal. I’m somewhat passive about this because of the lack of an easy way to handle followers from one source, although right now I’m actively trying to follow any human being who say they’re attending our Midwinter Meeting this week. I do this to make it easier to listen and respond, plus it gives these folks the ability to direct message us.
  3. The exception to rule #2 is that I don’t follow private accounts. I realize some folks make their accounts private to avoid spammers, but I can’t tell those from the folks who truly want their tweets to be private. As an organizational account that multiple staff members might have access to, I don’t want to expose those tweets or set up a situation where someone might accidentally retweet something private.
  4. I try to do more than just click a bookmarklet, so I’ll rephrase content to get it down to 130 characters or somehow add value to the headline of a press release. I try to be human and avoid marketing speak, and I don’t get hung up on capitalization, even though my undergraduate degree is in journalism.
  5. I do my best to shoot for 130 characters to provide for easy retweetability.
  6. Although this doesn’t apply to all organizations, I’m a big believer in the “right of first tweet.” Within ALA, there’s no one “master” Twitter account for the Association as a whole. Instead, every office, division, round table, etc., has its own account. In order to help build the audience for those accounts and give credit, I try to not announce news first that really belongs to other ALA units. Instead, I do my best to retweet their tweets. That doesn’t always happen, but I think it’s their right to have the first shot at it.
  7. Something new I’ve been trying lately is to avoid retweeting someone else’s content immediately after they tweet it, especially if they’ve used a hashtag. Instead, I use HootSuite to schedule the tweet at a different time of day in order to try to reach a different audience that may not have seen the original one. If it was a morning tweet, I’ll schedule the retweet for the afternoon, and vice versa.
  8. I’m currently using bit.ly to shorten URLs so that I can get statistics for how often links are being followed. I also try to use custom bit.ly URLs for links I know I’ll re-use a lot. I fervently wish HootSuite would get rid of the frames on its ow.ly service or at least give URL creators the option to turn them off. Until then, I’ll keep using bit.ly.
  9. I deliberately retweet from individuals, not just other ALA units or organizations. My take on it is that we’re all in this together, and we’re all part of the conversation. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll be retweeting everything posted to the #nopants tag. πŸ˜‰
  10. Rather than counting the number of followers as a metric, I’ve started tracking conversations. I still haven’t found what I consider to be an optimal way to do this, but for the moment, I’m clipping tweets to a notebook in my Evernote account (I’m on the free service for now) so that I can find them again. Because it’s so difficult to track the term “ALA,” I haven’t found an easy way to report out what’s being said about us, other than by manually writing up an email.
  11. Personally, I have an unlimited text messaging plan (I <3 texting), so I use notify.me to have Twitter mentions sent to my phone via SMS so that I get immediate alerts when someone mentions or directs a tweet to one of the ALA accounts. If you don’t want to go the SMS route, you can have the notifications sent to an email address, instant messaging account, or to a desktop app/widget. And this setup doesn’t necessarily mean I respond right away, especially if I’m out with friends, watching a movie, or if it’s late at night. I’ve worked hard to balance my work and personal lives, and so far it’s working fairly well. But the notice gives me a heads up, and I can then assess the urgency.

Those are the various Twitter issues I’ve thought through so far. Based on some other problems that have come up at work, I have some general advice for other organizations using social sites.

  • Did you know that the person who creates a Facebook page can never be removed? Never, ever, ever, ever plus a day. The only way is to delete the person’s account, which an organization can’t do if it’s a personal account. So be careful about who creates your organization’s page(s), because you’ll never be able to remove that person as an admin. You can add other admins, but you can’t remove the original creator. Add my voice to the chorus of frustrated users who wish Facebook would change this policy yesterday.
  • Be very careful when you’re setting up your bit.ly links. If you accidentally paste in the wrong URL (which I’ve done), you can’t go back and change it. Ever, as in ever plus a day. If you mess up a custom URL, you’ll never be able to get it back. Ever. Did I mention ever?
  • And speaking of bit.ly, if you haven’t already done this, you might want to go grab the most obvious custom bit.ly URLs for your organization so that someone else doesn’t use/steal/hijack them. Especially if you want a short and easy way to point to your own site on Twitter and get statistics for number of clicks. You can decide if you want to do this on other URL shortening services, too.

So those are some quick thoughts that have been swimming around in my head. I’d love to hear your thoughts about how I can do this better, and what you’d like to see from the ALA accounts I run.


December 8, 2009

Libraries Greening Communities?

Last weekend we had an energy audit done on our house, a fascinating exercise to watch. Besides the fact that I was interested to see what our issues are, I was captivated by the equipment used. Being a geek, it was extra fun for me. πŸ™‚

infrared camera
infrared camera

As the gentleman who performed the audit (Jim) worked, we had a lovely talk about a variety of things, including libraries. We talked about ebooks (he has a Kindle) and libraries (he thinks we’ll be cut out of the picture) and library services in general. Jim mentioned how he tries to work with organizations to improve energy efficiency, including libraries. Apparently he’s worked with Wisconsin libraries to give each one a wattmeter to circulate to residents who want to monitor their electricity (see this example).

Jim is eager to work with Illinois libraries to see what we could do to help patrons who want to do more to make their homes more energy efficient. Chicagoland libraries already circulate museum passes, some libraries still circulate art, and there are toy libraries, so why not this service? Several libraries are offering new gadgets for circulation (GPS devices, Flip video cameras, ebook readers), so lending technology isn’t new, either. There’s a lot of talk right now about green libraries, but can libraries green go that next step and help green their communities?

I love the idea, especially when combined with complementary programs, reading lists, and community connections. Are any libraries outside of Wisconsin offering this type of service? If you’re in Wisconsin, have patrons been using your wattmeter?


August 26, 2009

Mississippi Valley Library District Selling Magnetic Library Ribbons for Cars, etc.

I don’t see this anywhere on the web (either on the ILA site or the MVLD one), so I’m posting this to help publicize the effort. It appeared in the most recent of the Illinois Library Association’s e-News.

“The magnetic library ribbons measure 8” and say, “Support Illinois Libraries.” They sell for $1 each for amounts of 100 or more. $1.25 each for smaller amounts. Shipping will be extra or you can pick them up at the Mississippi Valley Library District (408 West Main, Collinsville, IL 62234; phone: 618.344.1112 ex. 113; fax: 618.345.6401).

Please contact Barbara Rhodes (barbarar at mvlibdist.org) and send her your name, library (if applicable), address, and phone number. Indicate if you would like the ribbons shipped or if you will pick them up.

The Mississippi Valley Library District will be selling these ribbons to the public for $2.00 each as a fundraiser.”

I’ll admit that when these magnetic ribbons first started appearing everywhere, I wasn’t a fan. But a few years ago, MFPOW started offering ones the ones that Mississippi Valley is using, so I put one on my car. It’s still there today, and I confess that every time I look at it, it gives me a twinge of pride. YMMV (no pun intended).

Support Illinois Libraries


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