Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thing 16: Wikis

Thank goodness the days of index cards and printed lists for pathfinders and key resources are gone. Wikis are even more versatile than bookmarking sites like de.lici.ous for tracking not only web sites, but also print materials and media on specific topics. Bookmarking sites are restricted by having to link to other sites on the web, whereas any type of information can be entered into a wiki. Staff who specialize in reference/non-fiction, local history, fiction, young adult, and children's areas can create their own pages of frequently asked questions and subjects for which it is difficult to find resources. How handy this would be for homework alerts, African-American month, Hispanic month, science projects, and other topics that come up year after year. New staff can benefit from research performed by existing staff, and anyone can add on as they encounter valuable new resources.

Another good use would be for software documentation. Over the years we've gotten away from printed manuals on how to use our library software. As staff discover shortcuts or best practices on how to perform a function, it would be extremely valuable to document the information in a wiki where it is searchable/easy to locate and available for anyone to improve upon.

I was struck by the concept of creating a wiki as a web-based notebook to organize thoughts. When I'm working on a large project, I tend to organize by creating lists and assigning completion dates to each task. For something smaller, I simply start with a document or email. The advantage of using a wiki is that changes and additions are made easily and the information can be shared with other participants in the project.

Thing 15: The future of libraries

Fascinating stuff; I read all of it. Here are a few of the important points regarding Library 2.0:
  • Customers expect access to all types of collections -- audio, digital, video, print -- journals, books, blogs, podcasts, audiobooks -- from where ever they happen to be at the moment, available from a multitude of devices, including small screen, mobile, and wireless. Physical collections as we know them today may no longer exist.
  • Customers want to get the information they need as quickly as possible and in one place. It is the job of the library to provide that access and create services that are easy to find, integrated, intuitive, and fast "so they can spend as little time as possible wrestling with lousy search interfaces and as much time as possible actually reading and learning."
  • "We have to ... find new ways to bring our services to patrons rather than insisting that they come to us—whether physically or virtually. At a minimum, this means placing library services and content in the user’s preferred environment (i.e., the Web); even better, it means integrating our services into their daily patterns of work, study and play."
  • "Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies." It is our job to keep up with the market or, better yet, be one step ahead.
Our challenge is to learn what customers want and need by involving them in the design process of library services and by listening to them at all times. They want accessibility, convenience, participation, and personalization via the means they use in other aspects of their lives. It is the job of the library to hear what customers have to say, respond quickly and pro-actively, look for trends, and think of creative ways to integrate new technology to strengthen the library's role in the community of users. Wikipedia's Beta is forever sums it up.

Thing 14: Technorati

Technorati has done a good job of managing the millions of blogs that exist. Are there no limits to the Internet? How long can information continue to double every 6 months and not become completely out of control and useless?

I would say that the advanced searching feature is essential in order to locate anything applicable in the morass of postings. It was very disappointing to discover that my blog name "23 Skidoo" is being used by several other people, including a library assistant from California who is also doing 23 Things. So much for originality. A couple of weeks from now, it might be fun to do a URL search for my blog to see if anyone has linked to it.

Technorati also has some handy tools for managing blogs I'm interested in, and those that are poplular. Boing Boing? It just seems to be an assortment of unrelated articles, not the "directory of wonderful things" it purports to be, so why have nearly 3,000 members made it a favorite? What am I missing?

Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Thing 13:

It's "bye, bye, browser bookmarks" for me. A single place to store all my bookmarks, accessible from any computer I'm using, makes so much sense (especially since I recently lost them on my workstation)! I immediately began transferring those I remember. It's extremely simple to do and, again, I found tagging to be a much more logical way to organize and locate entries. The Us.ef.ul and "Several Habits" blogs were straightforward and helpful in pointing out the best features of, in spite of being out of date.

Wouldn't this be a great way for library staff to share web sites they find to be authoritative and especially useful when answering customer questions?