Tag Archives: library

Farewell, Google Reader

Was anybody as disappointed as I was when I found out Google will be discontinuing their RSS feed aggregator, Google Reader? I use this tool to fuse together all of my blogger interests in one place: librarianship, fashion, social media and home design. All of these things, that have little to do with one another, can be found in my blogroll. We’re talking at least a hundred subscriptions (I might have problems). How in the world am I going to keep up with them now?

I wasn’t alone in my outrage. I read several articles that other bloggers wrote upset with the termination of a tool that some readers use religiously. However, once I started to delve into other articles, the termination of Google Reader didn’t seem so insane, just extremely premature. There are arguments that RSS feeds are becoming obsolete and no longer useful. I also read arguments saying that RSS feeds are esoteric, or not common to the average technology user. However, an even bigger percentage of tech writers argue that RSS is on the decline, true, but it’s nowhere near being dead. This debate reminded me a lot of our email discussion topic.

So what does this mean for libraries? Well, it’s one less RSS tool that a library can use if they wanted to have their patrons subscribe to their blog, or provide a public RSS feed for patrons to access multiple relevant blogs. It’s also one of the easiest to use (in my opinion), which is frustrating because users will face a learning curve transitioning to another reader. Libraries can also lose a lot of their readers in the shuffle from one reader to another. Some just won’t bother to do it. If libraries are utilizing blogs they should probably have a blog post alerting their readers of the change, and options on alternatives. This is a perfect example of why information professionals need to be up-to-date with changes in the information sphere. Without being alert to this change, they could wonder why their blog analytics have changed all of a sudden.

This also means that libraries may need to search for other digital means to direct traffic to their blog. Cross-publicizing their blog via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or Pinterest would be extremely useful in retaining old readers and attracting new ones.

Between now and July 1, I’ll be searching for a suitable replacement for my beloved Google Reader. Suggestions are welcome! 🙂

Longmont PL and UCSD Geisel Library Facebook Smackdown!

Geisel Library with purple sky.

A seriously awesome photo of UCSD’s Geisel Library – © UCSD

I took a look at the Longmont Public Library and the UCSD Geisel Library Facebook pages and did a comparison.

* Both libraries post regularly. I’d say they both average about once a day.
* Both libraries mix up the content between informative, interesting, humorous, and interactive (usually by asking a question).
* Both libraries use plenty of pictures.
* Both libraries have a user picture that shows off the library, though I think UCSD Geisel’s choice to include a group of apparently-excited students in the picture is a good idea.

However,

I noticed that the Longmont PL tended to post their most informative and most important messages, such as the library being closed, as a plain text status message. This doesn’t get as much reach, either from Facebook’s algorithms, or by people simply scanning past it in their feed.

UCSD did this better, with a post about fire alarms going off that included a humorous (well, some would say) graphic to go with it.

Longmont PL has a timely banner image on their page, representing February, though it’s hard to read. The Geisel library is celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday, appropriately enough, which is March 2nd.

UCSD seems to have figured out how to get their address and phone # information to display directly on their page. I know from experience that this isn’t a simple thing. Longmont doesn’t seem to have figured it out. Because I think if they knew how to do it, they would have.

Comparing the number of “likes” to the number of “were here”s, it seems like UCSD is getting far more traffic relative to the number of people who have liked their page.

Finally, UCSD has some “home video” footage of dancers dancing under the library structure. That’s pretty cool. Especially as it gives a real sense of how large this unusual library building actually is.

I think I’m going to have to give the win to UCSD, but Longmont isn’t doing too shabbily.

Pinterary

Through the first few weeks of the semester, the social media tool that has most piqued my attention has been Pinterest. Not only because of my nearly complete ignorance as to what it is or how it’s used, but because of its rocketing popularity among social media users. To be honest, I had never really visited any sort of Pinterest page but for a mere second or two prior to the class. My introduction to it came about via Facebook, as friends “pinned” items to their page. Looking back now with the course having shed light on the subject, I realize that two thoughts were evident back then: the majority of my friends who posted were female, and the pins focused on a single activity. In my infinite wisdom I passed this as another form of social media that neither interested me personally, nor had implications for future professional practice. Nothing could be further from the truth, articles on libraries and Pinterest abound, but more importantly, the exquisite Pinterest pages of libraries that may be found is truly incredible. The article “Pinterest as a Tool: Applications in Academic Libraries and Higher Education,” describes the Archer Library’s (University of Regina, Canada) creation of and subsequent use of Pinterest to highlight new acquisitions, library news, photos of staff, with two boards in particular catching my eye: “libraries we love,” and “what are you reading.” Each board had wonderful images and allow interactions between libraries and patrons.

Both this article and Anne Clark’s “Pinterest for Libraries” also highlight the potential for education, which I think is one of the coolest upsides to using this tool. Librarians can collaborate with professors and teachers and pin resources that will assist students in research projects. For youth librarians, there is an abundance of ideas for storytime and arts and crafts. The following quote from Anne’s article really caught my eye: “since Pinterest is a visual medium, it is easy to find things just by looking, instead of trying to remember if you filed an idea under Bulletin Boards or Display Ideas.” It is indeed a visual medium that allows for collaboration and promotion unlike any other social media tool. What better way to promote than images and video, which will leave a greater impression on the mind than any form of text based information. It’s a tool that can be used to good advantage by libraries, although it’s probably more useful for public and academic libraries. Like any social tool however, the success is based on the level of support as evidenced by the lack thereof in the LA County Public Library Pinterest’s page, as opposed to quite the opposite in the Fullerton Public Library’s page.

Authors and Libraries on Tumblr

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Tumblr,as I’m sure many of its users do. As stated on the Tumblr community guidelines page, Tumblr “celebrates creativity. We want you to express yourself freely and use Tumblr to reflect who you are, and what you love, think, witness, and believe.”  The website was created in February 2007 and currently hosts an estimated 93.1 million blogs, including the blogs of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and President Barack Obama.

I have recently returned to using Tumblr after a year hiatus. The site can become overwhelming.  Your Dashboard shows every post that has been posted by you and the users that you follow since you last visited the site in an endless scroll.  This means that if you follow 20 people who post often and don’t visit the site for several hours, you likely have hundreds of new posts to view.  It doesn’t help that a lot of posts can be childish jokes or just a picture of that one actor in that one movie, and OMG isn’t he hot?

But the other side of Tumblr can actually be a great place for authors to connect with their fanbase.  For instance, I follow John Green, author of young adult novels and a youtube star, on Tumblr.  John Green is a master at using social media to connect with his fanbase.  On Tumblr, he answers fan questions, reblogs fantastic fanart based on his books, and post random things that he finds funny with added commentary written by him.  All of these actions serve to help his fans feel like they are important and that he appreciate them.

I feel that this is a model that more authors, especially young adult and children’s authors, should follow.  While most authors have their own website, it is more welcoming to young fans to be able to get to know their favorite authors via a social forum they already use, such as Tumblr, which is much more interactive than the usual author website.

Libraries can also reach out to the younger generation this way, by posting book recommendations and trivia.  It would also be a good forum for the library to get ideas on what programs and events people want to see at their local library.  It would be good to see the slower world of books and libraries get caught up in the faster pop-culture world of Tumblr.

DFTBA

Erin

(Here’s a link in which John green talks about how Tumblr connected him to fans on 2 different continents to collaborate on making a poster based on of his books a reality: http://youtu.be/tHp3c9ziIq0)

My, How Pinteresting…

When it comes to social media, I’m not the greatest advocate. Now, that’s not to say that I have anything against it. Quite the opposite, actually. I constantly check my Facebook account, and use it for both personal and professional needs.  On one hand, I use it as a means to keep in touch with gal pals scattered across the world, from San Francisco to Mozambique. Professionally, it allows me to keep in touch with teachers I have worked for in the past, and functions as a medium to secure future substitute jobs.  But up until recently, Facebook was really my only social media constant.  I never felt inclined to open a Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc., because all my social networking needs were met by this one site.  Why have multiple accounts on a variety of websites when the one does just fine and keeps me plenty busy?

However, I’ve recently become addicted to that young upstart.  It has taken the idea of bookmarks to a whole new, social level.  Not only do I have a visual database of interesting links, sorted into whatever categories make sense to me, but I can also view the collections of friends and colleagues.  I can even find pages run by organizations I support and authors I loved.

Yup, you guessed it.

I’m a Pinterest junkie.

As someone who has always been more of a visual learner, being able to organize all my digital metadata into a visual database is perfect.  No longer do I bookmark an interesting recipe, placing a brief line of text in a neat little folder within another little neat little folder within an unassuming icon on my browser, effectively putting it out of sight and out of mind.  Now, I simply scroll through my board “Yum :d,” look for that one picture, and follow the embedded link to that delicious looking crockpot recipe for Lemon Garlic Chicken (tomorrow’s main dish at dinner).  And it hold so much more than recipes.  My largest boards are for crafts, sewing, fandoms, clothing, music, and food.  It’s made me more organized, and constantly exposes me to new ideas and pushes me to think outside of the box creatively.  I also follow some favorite YA author’s boards so I can keep track of their book recommendations.

Obviously, it’s a great tool for my personal life.  However, I think it’s going to prove to be a great asset for libraries.  Libraries can now create a visual database of information for their patrons to browse at will. Fliers for current events can be posted on one board, and images from recent events on another.  Other boards could hold specialized information for different interest groups or to educate patrons about different events an issues, such as Black History Month or Women’s Suffrage.

Yes, all this can also be done on a blog, or through a website.  Pinterest, however, allows these to each have their own unique space, and users can choose whether or not to follow specific boards.  So rather than scroll through a list of facebook posts to look for relevant information, teens interested in YA fiction can follow the board specific to that topic.  Their homepage, then, is filled only with relevant information that piques their specific interests.  Book club members can keep in touch with each other by following and posting to a board specific to their needs.

Now, to be sure, ‘tags’ in blogs or #hashtags on Twitter allow for some filtering.  Users can, potentially, sift through a large quantity of posts and pull out only pertinent information with relevant tags. But this is still more work than the Pinterest board method.  Tags still require users to go from general to specific every time they go to the webpage.  With Pinterest boards, all the relevant information is already sorted, no extra steps necessary.

A quick search on Pinterest already shows that many libraries are taking advantage of this excellent resource. I only hope my local libraries will jump on the bandwagon too!

Just the Right Amount of Personality

I think we all agree that social media is an incredible tool that libraries can use to great benefit.  The opportunities and limitless–who wouldn’t want an easy way to connect with patrons, disseminate information, share content, market programs, and conduct community outreach for FREE?!   Talk about using your powers for good, sheesh.  Not to mention the added benefit of the built-in younger demographic for whom social media is a part of every day life–this is the next generation of potential library lovers–reel ’em in!  Their parents are trolling Facebook too–market those children’s programs, people!

Facebook done well, can help patrons view the library as the living breathing entity it truly is.  Tipping patrons off to a great read or an upcoming event is a beautiful thing, and conveying a sense of personality in the process can really cement that library-patron connection.  I think a measured combination of enthusiasm, information dissemination, and a welcoming tone are ideal.  Be interested and interesting.  Build a community, fire people up, inspire and inform them, get them in the door.

I love it when a library’s Facebook page conveys a sense of personality.  But here’s the tricky part–how much is too much?  Who among the staff can be entrusted as the gatekeeper, to set the tone?  Do we need guidelines to follow, or just a sane, professional person?  As we learned from Julie’s nod to the Applebee’s debacle, item #1 is to ensure the person has a solid grasp of Web 2.0.  That can be a challenge, especially in smaller libraries where there may not be a qualified staffer with the proper training.  The other scenario that can come up is internal barriers.  Some libraries have an extensive bureaucratic system which things filter through that might make timely posting difficult or impossible. This is a major kink that’s got to be fixed–we can’t be relevant if we’re bound up in red tape.

Here’s a couple of examples of libraries that I think are getting it right on FB:

Altadena Library District-Youth Services

Santa Monica Public Library

Instagrammin’

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the photo-sharing platform Instagram. Instagram exploits the fact that us humans are highly visual creatures and created a social network solely dedicated to sharing snapshots of users’ lives. The creators of this app were very intent on making sure it only be used to snap on-the-go photos by restricting uploads to those from smart phones. This ensured that users wouldn’t use the app merely as a photo aggregator where batch photos could be uploaded from their laptop just as they can with Facebook or other social networks. It wasn’t until recently that users’ profiles were even viewable online without a mobile device. Even so, capabilities on the non-mobile version are extremely limited. This, to me, is what sets this platform apart from other photo-sharing networks.

Another appealing aspect is their photo filters. This allows each user to edit their photos by choosing one of the several predetermined filters until it appears to their liking. Who doesn’t enjoy feeling a little bit more like a professional photographer? This ensures the most aesthetically pleasing photo for the user editing it and for users consuming it. Instagram has been my go-to app to view pretty things (photography, blogger outfits and collages).

I can see libraries using Instagram just like any other user does: to share snippets of its daily happenings. When I worked as a social media assistant in a digital agency, I learned that users want to see humanizing posts, not merely adds or calls to action. Seeing what goes on behinds the scenes at the library, during lesser-known programs or showing some personality from staff can really go a long way to make an information institution more appealing. It also has the potential to elucidate the fact that libraries are not just books anymore by providing visual evidence to the contrary.