Saturday, October 29, 2011

Learning 2.0 Activity #9 - Learn about Library 2.0

After reading the five perspectives on where the future of libraries are heading (Library 2.0), my perspective falls somewhere among a mashup of Schultz’s To a temporary place in time,  Anderson’s Away from icebergs,  and Stephen’s Into a new world of librarianship, because they focus on the transformation of libraries that include not just a physical transformation of space, but also a re-imagination of how people interact with information.  Stephen’s focus on the librarian is particularly relevant, because in order to see significant progress, the people at the forefront of that change must be change agents themselves.  You could add all the physical upgrades (computers, software programs, e-books, coffee shops) but if the librarians aren’t upgrading their knowledge as well, then it is all for naught.  Yet it is not just about librarians learning the latest technology, it is about a full evolution in imagining what a library does and who the librarian is.  As Anderson points out, traditional modes of service and user education need to be re-evaluated to fit into Schultz’s libraries as communities model.  Although technology might appear to be the driving force of change, it is merely the tool which people utilize to  accomplish change.  The  more the way we interact with information is changing, the more tools there will be to support that change, and librarians can be successful in assisting users with the most effective tools for their needs, in whatever space that may be.

Here's a library in the UK that re-imagined itself as a "Discovery Center"  According to the video, it experienced:
46% increase in issues or books and content
500% increase in people signing up for a library card
in the first week of opening 13,428 people visited

It looks like it's located in a mall (a mall!), and the interior aesthetic is a mixture of gallery, bookstore, library, and performance space:

It is an exciting time to be in library and information studies!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Learning 2.0 Activity #8 - Zotero

Zotero rocks!  I haven’t used any citation management software or services before, so I have nothing to compare it to, but after downloading the Firefox add-on, it was easy to add things to my library.  So far I see two challenges/drawbacks for Zotero (and if I’m mistaken, please point it out – I’d hate to miss all the functionality of this tool): no mobile app, and no way to publicly share only selected file folders instead of either your whole library or nothing.

I also created a group, although I admit I have to read up more on how to utilize this tool (it wasn’t as intuitive as I thought it might be).  Please visit and help me to test this out.

Zotero seems especially useful when researching on multiple computers (for example, at home, work or at a library).  The search features also would be a huge benefit – not only can you search on headlines or content but also on the notes that you add!

I will definitely utilize this tool for future research, possibly for personal reading materials as well, if there’s a way to share only part of your library.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Learning 2.0 Activity #7 - Tagging and

It appears that delicious (formerly is now undergoing a transition in ownership and operation from Yahoo to AVOS, a new start-up company from the guys that brought us YouTube.  This is never a good time to sign up for a service (too many bugs to fix and usually there's some issues with full functionality), but for the sake of this class I did it anyways and had a look around, then went searching online about the transition - let's just say that long-time users are not happy about the relaunch.

I have always liked the idea behind even though I wasn't a user - traveling bookmarks, and bookmarks you can share seem like a useful concept.  Just like in the Otter Group tutorial (which I had to search online for since the Learning 2.0 link didn't direct to it properly), I thought more instructors should be using this tool to share interesting sites and/or articles that pertained to class and to build a collaborative collection of information that the whole class could contribute to.  Now onto my experience with the new delicious.  Saving links and creating a stack seemed easy enough, but I was interested in building a stack where multiple people could contribute, just like on the Otter tutorial (although they weren't called stacks back then).  And now my fears about a service-in-transition start to surface: I searched on delicious and found Sorry, this functionality is not available at this time.  I also found that even though I was clicking the "follow" button for stacks I found interesting, when I selected "following" from the menu, this message appeared:

you are not currently following anything.

you will have more fun if you click on some follow buttons!

But I did!  It took me a few tries to realize that there were two tabs on the "following" page, and the default tab was "profiles" and the tab behind that was "stacks."  I clicked on stacks and there were the stacks that I was following - hooray!  I found this design flaw annoying - I didn't even know that you could follow profiles (and what does delicious consider a profile?).

Time to check out some other functions that the  Several Habits of Wildly Successful Users article mentions (which again I had to search for online because the Learning 2.0 link didn't work).  Habits one and two, check.  Habit three - the inbox - I decided to explore, except that it looked nothing like what the author was describing.  I'm guessing it's another victim of the relaunch.  That means that most of habits 4-6 are now obsolete as well (clicking on the links will bring up a lot of "page not found messages" or delicious pages with no content).  The seventh habit of moving it around found me exploring online for ways to add a delicious button to my posts.  I found several that consisted of editing the html code in the blogger template, but after two failed tries, I decided to forgo that option for the time being.

I did add the "save on delicious" bookmarklet to my browser toolbar, so that will make it easy to add to my links or my stacks.  This now brings the number of ways that I'm compiling online information to four:  Googlereader, Diigo, delicious, and my Firefox toolbar (I have bookmark folders right on the toolbar that makes it easy and fast to visit my favorite sites or links - I even keep a separate dropdown for current school project links that I'll clean out and start fresh each semester).  While this probably isn't a lot of tools to true technophiles, it starts to become daunting to me - how do I remember which links I've, or others, have bookmarked where?  All of these tools offer something over the others and can be helpful in different situations, but it seems like a lot to manage.

This lesson has brought into focus a few of the issues of rapidly-changing technology.  First, tutorials quickly become outdated when the technology changes.  Second, although technology seems to offer the great hope of free information and functionality for all, it is still a business, and some businesses will make decisions that might not be in the best interests of its users.  Three, has no one learned that if you grow a big user-base and suddenly change either the interface or functionality, your users will hate you?  Geesh, has facebook taught companies nothing?  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Learning 2.0 Activity #6 - RSS Feeds

Confession - I am not a fan of googlereader, or any news aggregators in general that make you go somewhere to read your feeds.  I prefer the feeds that you can see right in your toolbar through your browser (I use Firefox).  But for this activity, I went along and subscribed to more than 10 feeds through googlereader: Association of Research Libraries – Transforming Research Libraries, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library News Feed, the Learning 2.0 feed, Libraries in the News, 4 different Library Journal feeds, Reader’s Club latest reviews, the Chronicle of Higher Education – Technology, and Unshelved.

Some sites were easier to subscribe to than others.  One of my favorite publications, the Chronicle of Higher Education, made it nearly impossible to find the RSS feed.  There was no little icon with the airwaves on it that we’re all so used to looking for.  I had to go into the site map to find the RSS feeds.  And I found that it was easier than what the video tutorial instructed: instead of having to put in a web address (which at first I tried to do), all you have to do is click the RSS icon and select which feed service you use  (i.e. googlereader, newsgator, my yahoo, pageflakes, netvibes or rojo – most of which I’ve never heard of) and then it appeared in my googlereader account.

This activity did introduce me to some excellent resources – I wasn’t familiar with Library Journal before, and the ARL website is something that I only get to visit every so often.  I still don’t, however, see myself with the abundance of time to check, let alone actually read, all the feeds that will be put into googlereader.  In fact, at one point I must’ve subscribed to CBS News feed, because it was already there in googlereader with 1000+ new items to read. 

I understand the concept behind the RSS feed – sending the headlines (and if you set up your preferences, getting a descriptive sentence or two) directly to you instead of having to go search out the stories, but it’s almost an over-abundance of information to have to weed through.  If you don’t have the time to go to the website to read a story, how do you have more time to sift through all the stories that are sent to you? 

For the second discovery exercise, I visited Technorati (the tutorial was fun – it opened in Dutch, which took me a minute to realize, but it was very outdated – the Technorati site now looks much different).  I searched for “library” and it brought up recent blog posts – most of which centered around the e-book news that Kindle has partnered up with libraries to offer free book downloading.  Then I tried the search bar again with “library” but selected blogs.  While this brought up some interesting blog sites that pertained to libraries, I actually preferred the search of posts, as there were more current, newsworthy posts rather than just (albeit sometimes entertaining) musings.  As one of my classmates pointed out about wikis, special interest groups could utilize Technorati to find blogs on their specific fields – for example, fantasy and science fiction books for kids and teenagers.  I added the feed for library posts to my googlereader, but it took more steps than on other websites.  It gave a url at first that I plugged into my googlereader under Add a Subscription, but it couldn’t be found, so I went back to Technorati and went through an additional couple of screens until finally the familiar “Add to Google Home Page “ or “Add to Google Reader” screen showed up.

Even though I came across a few stumbling blocks, it's almost too easy to subscribe to a feed - you could quickly amass more feeds than you'd ever be able to go through efficiently and quickly.
Learning 2.0 Activity #5 - Wikis!

I see have always seen wikis as somewhat of a fad that will eventually fade away, but Wikipedia has taken off, not as a respectable information source but as a source of quick, fun information used to determine bets or somewhat satisfy inquiring minds. 

Other than Wikipedia, I have utilized Google docs for class projects and for working on lists with my husband.  Knowing the other people with which I was working lent credibility to the project, something that sometimes lacks when you have numerous anonymous contributors to a wiki (as pointed out in the blog and the "slide show" we read for this activity).  This type of activity, with contributors working on one project, makes an effective use of a wiki, but it appears that not wikis provide that type of experience.

The BookLovers wiki makes good use of patron-added content, but it doesn't look much different than a blog with comments - the reviews appear to be done by individuals instead of collaborative input.  Although now that I think about it, the wiki doesn't necessarily have to be a within-document collaboration, but could also be just within-site collaboration, like the UConn IT staff wiki, however, there are new online services like Diigo, del.ic.ious, or digg that allow users to bookmark or add links on related content that anyone can access.  It seems like these newer approaches are more effective than using a wiki just to collect links to other content.

The Subject Guides wiki is an interesting use of a wiki because it does contain the collection of links approach to collaborative wiki-ing, but also listings that include varying type of information  - not just articles on the subject, but also staff recommendations   and local information (like when and where the local farmer's market takes place).  Libraries would benefit from this type of wiki because it could be localized by patrons.