Author Archives: Carleen

Social reading and why ebook distributors like Overdrive have a ways to go

When I try to imagine the ideal partnership between libraries and social networkings sites, I tend to think of the concept of social reading.  I’ve rather enjoyed this particular feature while reading Kindle ebooks.  The Kindle ebook reader allows you to share quotes directly from the book through Facebook and Twitter.  I found this to be particularly useful during some of my previous courses at SJSU where my textbook turned out to be available as an ebook through Amazon.  This meant that I could essentially share thoughts about class readings with current classmates or other library professionals I followed on Twitter.  It opened up a whole new network of learning for me that went beyond the boundaries presented when using our content management systems, D2L.

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Many libraries are currently trying to navigate the often complicated landscape of ebook lending.  The most popular ebook distributor these days is Overdrive.  Although Overdrive has tried to improve its appeal by partnering with Amazon to distribute Kindle ebooks in addition to their ePUB versions, the Overdrive ebook media console app leaves a lot to be desired in the way of social reading.  I realize there are DRM issues (ugh) and that theoretically you don’t own the book so why have the ability to highlight content when the ebook is only on your device temporarily, but couldn’t there still be some way for the reader to highlight content if only to share a short quote via Facebook and Twitter?

The future of reading will look so different from what it has been in the past or even what it looks like today.  In order to be able to offer a significantly richer reading experience, ebooks should be media rich and allow readers to share and highlight thoughts.  It can be frustrating as a librarian to know that this kind of technology exists but remains out of reach for our users because distributors and vendors have yet to catch-up.

LinkedIn and Endorsements

One of the features I like about LinkedIn are the Groups and the interesting discussions they often generate. Not too long ago there was a discussion started over LinkedIn’s new use of endorsements on profiles. So for example, if I click on one of my contacts profile I will be presented with something like this:

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If I’m inclined to do so, I can select one of the skills that my contact has claimed to possess and endorse him for it. Once several contacts have done the same you end up with a section on your LinkedIn that looks a bit like this.

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When LinkedIn first came out, I seemed to remember everyone praising it for it’s more “gated access approach” to adding connections and building a network. If you wanted to connect with someone then you would be presented with a list of options as to how you know them:

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I think a lot of people felt this helped to build trust and a sense of authenticity, not to mention more professionalism compared to other social networks like Facebook. It was harder to just add someone randomly like you tend to do on Facebook. LinkedIn makes it so you have to kind of think about who you’re connection to.

In addition, LinkedIn allows you to give and receive recommendations from others. Getting a recommendations from someone could be a great benefit to someone, and the more you have, the more attractive you’ll look to a potential employer. I guess the new endorsement feature was provide another way to provide recommendations but rather than having to put thought into writing a paragraph or two about the individual, all you have to do is select a button that says “endorse”. There’s not really a lot of thought that goes into it and I’ve even caught myself endorsing someone simply because I noticed they had endorsed me. So, I can see how people might criticize LinkedIn for setting aside some of it’s original philosophy to create clear, authentic connections between people for something a little more superficial.

If I were trying to convince a library director or CEO who is new to social media to create at least one profile online, I would probably recommend that they start with LinkedIn simply because it has that more professional edge and would therefor seem a little “safer” then if I tried to convince them to begin with Facebook. I think, however, people are right to criticize the endorsement feature in LinkedIn and I can imagine many newcomers to social media may agree and be a bit turned off by it.

Google+, libraries and when to jump ship

I’m currently taking a class in Coursera, called E-Learning and Digital Cultures.  As an academic librarian, I’m always interested in how social media and digital technology in general can be used for teaching and learning and thought this class would be interesting to take alongside this one.  Last Friday, the professor’s for the course hosted a Google Hangout to discuss some of the learning material from Week 1.  It worked out quite well as a way to interact with a large (very large) student group synchronously online.  

I don’t really use Google Plus much.  In fact, I hardly been on there at all since I opened the account.  But it seems to be gaining in popularity and one of our course readings this past week predicted that more libraries will be opening a Google Plus accounts.

This has always been one of my issues with libraries using social media.  Well, not really an issue.  More like a nuisance.  As much as I love social media and advocate its use,  I have a hard time trying to determine when and if a library should think about migrating from one social media platform to another, or whether to maintain both or multiple.  Our library has a Facebook and a Twitter, but we’ve found that Facebook tends to have more interaction.  We’re not sure why or what it is, but the community where I live doesn’t seem to be very interested in using Twitter.  So, we’ve been discussing the idea of deleting the Twitter account altogether and focusing our interactions using Facebook.  Another thing we had to consider is that our campus as a whole (such as other departments…Student activities, Alumni Association, etc) have adopted Facebook but haven’t opened up Twitter accounts.  So there’s this sense that we have to be consistent with what everyone else is doing.  

One of the things I will be most interested in learning from this class is whether there is a way to identify when a library should jump ship to a different social media tool or when to consider using multiple tools.