Entries in "Library Users" ( for this category only)

From the File of Where Else Did They Look

I found this video about Gmail discussed in a Walking Paper blog entry. In general the video is Gmail engineers reading emails they receive from happy users. The last one in the video was a freshman chemical engineering student who was working on a group project and the answer the group needed appeared in the targeted Gmail ads. The Google engineer said "this person was able to use gmail ads to find something she couldn’t find anywhere else".

Really? I did a similar project on photoremediation during my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering and I found all the necessary information from the library.

I have two concerns with this video and the suggestions made. First, I question where else did these students look. Second, Google is doing some wonderful things but they are not the only source. It leads me to challenge are libraries doing enough to be in front of the users eyes.

Resources, Data, or Tools

Are libraries offering resources, data, or tools to support instruction? Is the difference in the actual terms used just word play? Do libraries not market tools for instruction and only focus on research? Are library tools not good enough?

The Wired Campus (Chronicle of Higher Education, August 8, 2007) highlights a project asking educators their top ten lists of learning TOOLS. It has caused a ripple in the library profession communication channels as NOT one library tool once mentioned by the first 88 learning professional to respond.

Some have proposed that there is a difference between information resources and learning tools. Libraries do advertise and promote many of the learning tools mentioned but none of the subscription-based or library-design resources made the list.

I think all might be true.

First, surveys should define the meanings of words. But another view is that libraries have a reputation of developing our own terminology. Does that terminology make sense to users? Maybe library patrons do not fully grasp the words "database" or "resource". Maybe the simpler word "tool" is easier to grasp.

Second, libraries have always been good at marketing to people in the physical buildings, but marketing to more and more online patrons can be tough. Online competition is severe.

Finally, maybe we are not focused enough on instruction as a reason to use the library resources. I openly promote a database called Knovel as an instruction tool. I would not take credit for that stance though. One of my professors shared with me how he uses it for in the classroom activities. He feels it is a strong method to demonstrate chemical engineering calculations and develop real understanding. It is closer to how graduates would conduct such calculations in the real world.

Laura Solomon on Second Life

As I mentioned before I attended TechConnectons 8, the other day. I attended a session by Laura Solomon (Lebachai Vesta in SL) on Second Life. It was perfect timing for me as I was preparing my own presentation on Second Life.

There was a couple stats or ideas she shared that I wish the same thing could be said about our libraries:

  • Doubling Rate is every 7 months
  • Approxmately 10% of the participants spend 80+ hours per week in SL
  • Second Life was named one of the most influential sites for the 2008 election

Could you imagine if libraries could say the same thing?

TechConnections 8 and Michael Stephens

I was also lucky enough to attend two sessions by Michael Stephens at TechConnections 8. Even more valuable was the time we spent away from the conference discussing libraries, education, future goals, and everything else under the sun over lunch at a local Dublin, Ohio restaurant.

1. Hyperlinked Library: Trends, Tools and Technologies (Michael Stephens)
2. Technology Trends (Michael Stephens)

See his bibliography for these talks.

Some new things I picked up and need to explore:

Michael Stephens on Library 2.0
Originally uploaded by bcg8

Patrons Building Better Libraries

I love web 2.0 and library 2.0 because patrons take ownership in their library experience. Everything a user does can add value for others!

For example, Superpatron is an example of web 2.0 qualities in action. See how he helps his library and the top ten actions he promotes to others.

Meredith Farkas on "Librarian 2.0"

I finally got a chance to listen to Meredith Farkas's take on "Library 2.0" from our Week 2 assignments.

I have always enjoyed Meredith Farkas's commentary on various topics. While she dreams about the potential in libraries (and other aspects of the profession), I feel she is always very realistic in her expectations. She reminds us that Library 2.0 should be centered on meeting the user's needs and expectations, and that technology is a tool to meet those goals.

From her podcast, she outlined her 5 areas in succeeding in today's technology driven information world.
1. Embrace change, because our users do.
2. Questions everything. Specifically look at if the library is doing something for the benefit of the patron or the librarian.
3. Discover what YOUR patrons needs and wants. Not every idea can be transferred from one library to the next.
4. Play with technology.
5. Do not get sucked in by "technolust". Consider the NEED first, not the technological solution.

Thank you, Meredith for your thoughts.

Chicken or the Egg?

Jenny Levine has asked the ALA Library 2.0 participants to look at can "library 2.0 exist without librarian 2.0".

My gut reaction would be NO. Of course as a librarian myself, I have strong opinions and thoughts on the profession as a whole and its relevance in the information world. Librarians are able to filter free and purchased information, and make sure users get the BEST sources. Librarians can make the search process EASIER. Librarians discover and meet the USER's needs.

Now, after a slight pause, I looked a librarian's role within the 2.0 lifestyle. The technology tools of Web 2.0 are providing the same things as librarians: ease of getting the best (or recommend) sources to the user in the way and time they desire. These tools are being built and implemented by users, programmers, or resources that may be in competition with libraries.

I guess my conclusion to can "library 2.0 exist without librarians 2.0" would be YES. It should serve as a wake up call to the profession. What role will librarians serve in the development of Web 2.0? There are many opportunities for librarians, such as creating & organizing content, increasing ability for users to access information from anywhere & anytime, making processes easier, etc.

Future of Libraries & Web 2.0

My library started a Reading Club for the employees as a way to supplement professional development and leisure activities. We will meet once a month for boxed lunches and sweets. We plan on alternating between novels and professional articles.

For our first meeting, we discussed The Future of Libraries, Beginning the Great Transformation by Thomas Frey (The DaVinci Institute) and What is Web 2.0 by Tim O'Reilly. We only minimally touched on the Web 2.0 article as we ran out of time.

If you are not familiar with the Future of Libraries article, it proposes 10 trends that will drastically change libraries in the next 50 years. It does make some futurist predictions, such that books and literacy will be dead in 50 years. As a group, we thought the timelines were very debatable, and wondering why the author made some of his statements. Frey provided little justification in his predictions, so our discussions went all over the place. Frey's recommendations may be considered reminders for future thinking libraries, as some libraries do many of these things already.