QR codes for reader’s advisory

I was excited to read about QR codes this week – partially because we’ve just started using them at our library! I created reader’s advisory shelves on Goodreads, and then created QR codes leading to the shelves. I put the QR codes on 5×1 inch piece of paper, along with a saying like “Looking for a new mystery? Check here!”. These were then placed on the shelves near pertinent authors. (For example, a historical fiction QR code near Ken Follett and Bernard Cornwell, romance near Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele, etc.) It seems to be working, as I’ve noticed the books on the lists being checked out more often. I’m pretty pleased with it.

I really like some of the other ways libraries have been using QR codes, particularly study room reservation and linking to ebook versions of books.

I worry about people without smartphones (like myself), which is why I include URLS on the posters. As more and more people start to use smartphones, I imagine that libraries will not need to worry about this as much.


Missing Links

For my final post, I chose to create a LinkedIn account.  Now, while my foray into the realm of Twitter was captivating and left me a convert, LinkedIn still has yet to grab my attention.

First of all, I really hate that I’m filling out a resume.  Yes, I understand that LinkedIn is for finding professional contacts and stimulating networking, resume writing is my least-favorite form of writing and I avoid it at all costs. So my profile is still rather sparse, as I’ve been avoiding fleshing it out

My next issue: the purpose of the site.  To me, it’s the job-hunting social network.  And if there’s anything I dislike almost as much as resume writing, it’s, you guessed it, job hunting.  Probably because, as a substitute teacher, I always seem to find myself looking for the next job to tide me over until school is back in session.  It’s an exhausting process that involves a lot of small talk and more than its fair share of schmoozing. 

However, I do like the job recommendation emails they send out.  Had I created this account a year ago, before starting at SJSU and really starting to enjoy my work as a substitute, this would have been an invaluable resource.  Many of the positions it shows are located in the greater Los Angeles area, a move which would have been welcome before.  Now that I’m settled into an apartment and enjoying my seasonal teaching, however, moving is a greater issue than it was.  I do, however, plan on fleshing out my profile and closely monitoring local postings as summer draws ever closer with my impending unemployment.


Overall, had I the time and inclination, I would probably use this site more.  It is not a social presence that immediately draws one in, like Facebook and Twitter.  It takes dedication to flesh out and navigate.  However, for the desperate job seeker, constant job hopper, or one who is perpetually keeping their options open, it is a great resource. 

Pin it!

I have been hearing/reading about Pintrest for awhile, but when I first checked it out, I was put off from joining because it required a Facebook or Twitter account, neither of which I had or was interested in starting. However, I decided that this course provided too good an opportunity to pass up, particularly as I had to open a Facebook account for a course last semester. And even better, you can now join Pintrest with just an e-mail address rather than needing another kind of account. It’s going to take a lot more playing before I feel like I have really gained any kind of mastery that would make me any kind of expert. However, I have been having a great time thus far and have learned a lot.


I had been particularly intrigued because there were a number of interesting articles that I’ve found that talk about the ways that Pintrest can be used to further your career, improve the success of your job search, etc. I’ve shared a couple of those on the general discussion board in D2L, but here are some of the “highlights” as I see them.

From How Pintrest Can Hep Boost Your Career:

  • “The social aspect of Pinterest comes into play when Pinners browse each other’s pinboards or search for specific types of Pins. Pinners can find inspiration, share their interests and connect with like-minded people. According to the Pinterest mission statement, the company believes that “a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people.”
  • Pinterest’s rising popularity proves it as a new alternative for connecting people around the world based on shared tastes, styles and interests. For January of 2012, Pinterest’s percentage of total referral traffic matched Twitter and surpassed other popular content-sharing sites like YouTube, Google+, Reddit, MySpace, and LinkedIn.”
  • “The sharing aspect of Pinterest makes it a great way to collaborate and communicate with other teachers, students, and parents.”
  • “For any professional organization, Pinterest is an important social media tool that can be used to communicate, educate and create some buzz.”


These things all paint a picture of a very dynamic and creative way to use technology and social media to build and maintain a network and to showcase who you are, what you have done and can do.  However, I would imagine that one of the challenges in something like this would be to effectively draw lines between personal and professional pins and presence. In your job search, it is generally necessary to use your name rather than an online pseudonym to identify your work.


Therefore, the question becomes how you highlight the things with which you have been involved professionally, while still maintaining your personal boards if they are also under your name. It is possible to chose what you share with others – thus, you can do things like start looking at information about pregnancy, babies, etc., before telling people that you are expecting, but sometimes you want to share things personally that you aren’t sharing at work. And there is not so much space to explain why you have pinned something, so it could be easily misinterpreted. The pregnancy/baby subject being a particularly apt one for this discussion – you might be personally pinning pregnancy and baby things because you have a sister/friend/etc. who is expecting and you are sharing with her, however, a prospective employer won’t know that and might make assumptions that you will be immediately taking maternity leave, etc.  The trick is that you have to be vigilant about applying limits as to who can access the things that you have pinned.


I think that for libraries and other information institutions, Pintrest can provide some great opportunities because while each pin serves as a link to something else, they tend to be more graphic and dynamic looking than links in Facebook generally appear. Things that you might pin include information about legislation that will affect libraries; information about book awards; past, present and future programs; and information about books on a staff pick lists or recent releases from popular authors or on popular subjects, etc. While the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” stands, one of the reasons that libraries and bookstores create displays is because people often pick up books with intriguing covers (based on graphic, title or both). If you pin something about a book, you would generally be showing the book cover, which is, in effect, creating a digital display. Pintrest can also be used very effectively if an institution has an archive, a strong collection of older documents/maps/books/etc., or the tendency to create exhibitions.


There are severe weaknesses in the social media presence of the institution for which I’m creating my social media plan. However, one thing being done successfully is that they have started to use Pintrest well. They showcase some of the great things available in the archives and highlighting their exhibits, etc. However, they fail to effectively link the Pintrest account to their website, instead, they are linked to the blog that features images. A blog that is separate from the website, but not effectively highlighted. In this way, they fail to maximize their reach and effectiveness. These are things that I am going to be focusing on in the social media plan (along with the use of some other technologies to expand their audience, reaching the audiences that they purport to be most interested in growing).

The use of social media from someone in the general area of Boston

Like another classmate who previously posted, I was also planning to write on another subject. I was going to write about custom QR codes. I’ll probably still try to work that into my social media plan, or perhaps write a post about it later. But I feel like I should post about my social media life on Monday and Tuesday.

I live in southern New Hampshire. It’s roughly an hour north of Boston. I’m not supposed to be on Facebook at work, so I first heard about what was going on in Boston when I happened to go to the reference desk, where a coworker was looking at a news site. This was about 30-45 minutes after the explosions.

I knew one friend was home from work, because she’d posted about it. It was Patriot’s Day, so a lot of people in Mass either had the day off or were working from home. It just makes sense if you want to avoid the traffic mess the marathon causes. When I thought about it, I realized I actually know a lot of people who live or work in or near Boston. People who may’ve been running or watching the marathon. At that point I did go on Facebook, though it wouldn’t be until my workday ended that I could really comb Facebook for information and updates on people I knew.

I saw people checking in. I saw people asking other people to check in. I saw people offering to open their apartments to anyone who needed, well, anything. I saw people sharing information about where and when to donate blood. I saw others sharing information on websites to check on runners or other people. Early on, there were reminders to text rather than call, since it uses less bandwidth. I saw people sharing information as a way of helping, and I saw people just expressing general support and sympathy.

I had plans yesterday (Tuesday) to go into Boston to see Book of Mormon. I checked the Boston Opera House’s website to make sure it was still scheduled, but there was no information. I subscribed to their Facebook page, but there was nothing. Around about noon, I checked in again and there were people wondering what I was wondering.. was the performance going to go ahead? I had to resort to a phone call to get that information. Although eventually, around about 3pm, they finally did think to post to Facebook. Probably to help out their overloaded phone system. (I got a busy signal more than once.) And it was clear they didn’t keep much of an eye on their Facebook page normally. They post about once a month, and there were numerous spam comments on old posts that hadn’t been deleted.

I again used Facebook to inform my mother (mostly) and anyone else who might need to know, what my travel plans were. And I posted again when I got to Boston. And again when I got to the theater. Not that it did much good, because my mother still called me to ask!

My trip went fine. There were cops and military everywhere, but mostly they were just standing around. They were checking bags on the T and at the Opera House, but we hadn’t gone in with bags for that reason. The Celtics game was canceled, so there were no drunken revelers (or.. what’s the opposite of revelers?) to contend with. We thought some people might not have gone to the performance, but it was packed. I guess nobody wanted to miss Book of Mormon!

I am thankful my Facebook friends are, mostly, not the sort to post wild theories or condemn various groups without evidence.

I can’t help think about 9/11 and how I found out about NYC friends from mailing lists and blogs. I can’t say Facebook was any better, but it was different.

I’ll leave you with a link to an io9 post. How the Boston Marathon tragedy revealed the best side of social media.

Social media shines in the midst of a tragedy

This week I wanted to write about DropBox and how successful it has been with us internally. And then someone else wrote about it. And then Boston bombings happened.

I went to cover the reference desk just as the tragedy had occurred. Oblivious to what had transpired, my colleague who was getting off the reference desk, informed me of the bombings. She is an avid runner herself, so this was particularly hard hitting. We didn’t have much time to chit chat, as she was off to cover our chat reference service. As she hurried off, she left our computer on the boston.com website.

I left my browser there, and, in between assisting students, I would glance at my screen to see what was going on.

In the hour that I was at the reference desk, I saw a tragedy unfolding but also people coming together and using social media to mobilize. This was a live blog and something I’d never seen before. I was amazed at how promptly the website was grabbing tweets, YouTube postings, Instagram pictures, blog entries. You name it! Also, the site seem relatively reliable. You’d see some entries pop up and then immediately removed, as if someone was monitoring content and deleting inappropriate entries.

When something was not deemed reliable, it would do a disclaimer and many entries from sources did not make the cut.

In the hour or so that I was there, I knew which areas where closed off, where runners were being diverted to, that phones weren’t working, that there had been a registry set up to find your runner, that people were mobilizing to offer housing to those in need (a googledocs document was set up for this).

I was intrigued by the technology running this live blog. It turns out it is powered by something called ScribbleLive. One of their tag lines is: Powering storytelling. In real-time. I couldn’t agree more. And the people at boston.com knew just how to take advantage of it.

As far as uses for traditional libraries, I’m not so sure. But I can definitely see the use for large institutions. We all have had to deal with emergency issues, whether they are power outages (about a year and a half ago we had the biggest blackout in California’s history) or natural disasters (we’ve had our share of fires which bring our area to a standstill, other areas have hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) or any other situation where you need to get the word out fast and reliably.

Now that we have so many social media tools and people have different preferences as to what they use, utilities such as ScribbleLive are much needed tools. And it doesn’t hurt when they properly used.

My thoughts with all the people affected with the Boston tragedy. This is  what the live blog is reporting as I do my final save on the post:


Friends Don’t Block Friends (2)



According to the social media policy for Montgomery County Memorial Library System (MCMLS), “Library social media offerings are intended to create a welcoming and inviting online space where library users will find useful and entertaining information.”  Sounds  great!  But then why does MCMLS restrict access to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumbler, and Pinterest from all MCMLS computers, including staff computers.  Not very “welcoming or inviting,” if you ask me.   And, how are users supposed to find this “useful and entertaining information” if they can’t access these sites?  Oh, I know, they have to have their own computers and access the sites from home – too bad for those of you who don’t have that option.  Or, they could have a smartphone, but will need 4G to access within the library because the sites are still blocked through the WiFi.  But wait –the library will unblock access for anyone over 18 who asks, but only on the MCMLS computers, not on personal devices. 

Huh.  This blocked access to social media says many things to me, none of which are good.  I understand blocking pornography sites, especially from minors.  I don’t put any of the aforementioned social media sites anywhere near the realm of pornography sites in terms of content.  

Social media sites need to be removed from the filters for many reasons including:

  1. Because anyone over 18 can have the restrictions removed, this policy sends the message that MCMLS does not welcome teens in the library.  What? That’s not true.  How can you say that? MCMLS welcomes teens – hosts YA book clubs, gaming nights, social and advisory groups.  MCMLS loves teens.  Well, all that may be true; however, by not allowing access to social media sites that teens use MCMLS is sending the message that teens can’t be trusted with these sites or are not valued enough as patrons to provide free computer access to them.                                                                                                    In 2006, legislation was introduced to Congress seeking to prohibit minors from accessing chat rooms and popular social networking websites such as Facebook or MySpace.  “The Deleting Online Predators Act (H.R. 5319) would require schools and libraries to block access to a broad selection of web content including commercial websites that ‘allow users to create web pages or profiles that provide information about themselves’ or ‘offer communication with other users, such as a forum, chat room, email, or instant messenger.’” (ALA Like CIPA, the legislation would affect e-rate funding for schools’ and libraries’ internet access.  The House of Representatives passed the bill, but it did not pass the Senate.   Because this bill did not pass, MCMLS does not lose any funding by providing access to these sites.
  2. Social media sites are valuable sources of information.  Isn’t that the role of the library – to provide access to information?  Isn’t that the stated mission of MCMLS’ social media use: to provide spaces for patrons to find useful and entertaining information?  Blocking access to these sites is a form of censorship which is clearly in violation of ALA’s Library Bill of Rights, “III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  3. It is a bit counter-intuitive for MCMLS to say, “Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter” but just don’t do it at the library.  We want you to be our friend, but we don’t trust you to use these sites responsibly, at least not on our computers.  
  4. It is the library’s responsibility  to provide access to information to ALL patrons, not just the ones with home computers, 4G, or who are over 18.

If MCMLS wants people to friend them on Facebook, then they have to treat people like friends.  Friends welcome friends… friends trust friends… friends include friends.  Friends don’t block friends.

QR Codes (with CI and RI)

I spoke with a marketing intern yesterday, who has both a job and an internship creating digital media online and promoting it all with social media. We talked among other things, about video marketing and his social media preferences. He shared his thoughts on the usage of Google Analytical; as a former accounting professional with a love for anything mathematical, I found it to be a great conversation. But then he reached further when he shifted focus to include the consideration of both CI (consumer influence) and RI (return on investment) when using social media.
Then I asked about QR codes. We discussed some of the benefits, but that with an instant world the code had to work flawlessly when activated. We talked about the benefits in a large environment like museums, galleries and academic libraries to use QR codes like exhibits with station numbers: a QR code to be linked to audio providing new information such as a map and placing it all in context.
For our small, rural libraries with a single room – this would not be a necessity. For what other purpose could we use them? Since all public and school libraries in our region offer free Wi-Fi even devices such as iPods and iPads could access the Internet without needing cell phone service. This could be helpful as there are still many “dead zones.”
Having done promotional and marketing for years in a high school setting, the key with our students is to mix it up. Before spring break, I asked a random sampling of our students (about 10%). None said they were interested in having me place QR codes on books so that they could hear a booktalk or watch a book trailer. They either pick up the book and decide or not. They like when I talk to them about it; they prefer direct knowledge from my having read the book. So clearly, constant use of QR codes for Top 100 books would never really work. CI would be limited (non-existent) and the RI a waste of time, which is precious in a one-person library so as not to be wasted.
With the intern I offered my thoughts and ideas about more limited and random usage:

  • Special events – posters would be printed with QR codes and accessible throughout their communities and not just in the school (provides clues to the challenges or codes needed such as Amazing Race, Scavenger Hunt, etc)
  • Skype visit with an author – link a QR code to the author’s page, which usually offers so much.
  • Banned Book Week – I had already planned to cover books with striped paper (like prison garb) and use a bar code. Instead, I could include a QR code that would link to a special web page designed to share more about the when, where and why the book was banned. Still undecided if I should reveal the title or not (my students loved the Blind Date with a Book this past Valentine’s Day)
  • Blind Date with a Book (see banned book week, similar idea covered with heart wrapping paper and a QR code that provides a Dating Profile that might further inspire a reader to check out the book)

These types of QR code usage, combined with other varying marketing over the course of the school year appear to be worth the time to try. Only with a limited usage within the school, a few times a year – I can get administrative approval to loosen the “no cell phones in school” rule and make the library (during those weeks only!) a Phone Zone. That alone will build credibility and CI, more than any other effort I create. Wish me luck! (feel free to add to the ideas list…)