Prior to this week I had only ever heard of Ning.  Now I fear that I may become addicted.  Much like MySpace and Facebook, Ning is a social networking website.  What sets Ning apart from other social networking sites is that you join groups that a user created.  I love it!  While in Ning I created profiles with two different groups my LIS768 class ( and the Library 2.0 ( group.  Thanks to The Utopian Librarian for putting together the class Ning, I’m having a blast playing around with it!

I think something like this has great potential for libraries both on the staff and user level.  First, it would be a great way for staff to stay connected and share things with each other instead of the old fashioned (ok it’s going to be weird saying this is old fashioned!) let’s-send-out-an-email-and-copy-the-whole-staff way of communicating.  Also, it would be great for users to be able to be a part of their library’s Ning group and learn about library news and events that way.  It’s just a way of stepping outside of the library website box!


Content Generators

Libraries can make use of custom content generators as a free, easy, and creative way to create posters and marketing tools for themselves. If you’ve never heard of custom content generators let me explain myself before I go any further. Trust me, you’re going to want to know what this is. A custom content generator is a website of web service that helps you, the user, to take something (a picture for example) and customize it to fit your needs. This is also a form of user-generated content.

Some libraries are using custom content generators to create ads for their events. For example, Lewis and Clark Library System hosted a gaming night for which they created these really cool looking poster ads with different characters talking about going to gaming at the library. You can see an example on their Flickr account. One way that I keep track of the latest, and sometimes most interesting, content generators is through The Generator Blog. They usually post 2 or 3 different generator sites per week that can do some really cool things for your library or just might be fun to play around with. My recent favorites are the Pocket Emo Generator and the M&Ms Character Generator.

Meet Madame Punky In Your Face (they provide naming options for you!)


Who’s to say all librarians can’t be M&Ms out there on the internet?! 😉

IMing Librarians

The library I chose to IM was the Phillips Memorial Library at Providence College in Rhode Island. The librarian was extremely courteous and willing to help. The questions I asked her were:

  • When did you start using IM reference?
  • What prompted your library to start using IM reference?
  • On average, how many questions do you receive by IM per day?
  • Do you publicize that you offer IM reference anywhere besides your website?
  • Is there any type of question that is harder to answer via IM?
  • Are there any barriers or problems that you have encountered using IM reference?

This particular library started using IM reference about 2 years ago.  I was very surprised when the librarian told me they usually only get 2 or 3 questions per week!  Then when I asked what they do to publicize the service she said that they have it on the website and will occasionally mention it in instruction sessions.  I’m wondering if there’s a correlation between the number of students that use it and the lack of publicizing?!  She also mentioned that any question that’s at all complicated is harder to answer through IM.  I can see where some questions that you get in an academic library setting would be harder to answer because of the whole information literacy movement.

While free IM clients like AIM and Meebo are excellent, I tend to the the new wave in academic libraries will lean more towards services like Elluminate.  Elluminate is video conferencing software that allows the conference administrator to push content at the other people in the conference and receive instant messaged or voice questions.  I know it’s not as nice for on demand information literacy instruction, but I can see where IM clients wouldn’t work as well either.

The Death of Dewey

When I traveled to my local Barnes and Noble the other day I had one goal in mind… to leave with the book Chicago Haunts: Gostlore of the Windy City. I went straight to the “New Age” section and looked for the shelves that had books about ghosts. I spent about 1o minutes going over the shelves and finding nothing. Feeling defeated, I started to walk back to the exit when I passed the Halloween display! “They must have moved it here for the season,” I thought to myself. I browsed the books on the table. Still nothing. “One more place,” I thought and moved over to the Regional section to look for the Chicago books to again walk away disappointed. I figured at this point I had wasted so much time that I might as well ask the Information Desk. The girl knew exactly where to go and took me to an entirely different section of the store labeled “Local History” where the book was sitting face out on the shelf.  I left extremely frustrated, but with book in hand.

When I read the post on the ALA TechSource blog about Maricopa County Library District and Phoenix Public Library my mind immediately went back to that day in Barnes and Noble when I spent my 20 minute search mumbling to my fiance about how if this place was anything like a library I would just wander over the catalog, find out where the book is, and be out of here in 5 minutes.  While the Dewey Decimal System may annoy me and I am a person who generally supports innovations in making the library more user friendly, I can’t necessarily say I am pro-BISAC in libraries.  I decided I better see for myself and went into the catalog of one of the libraries.  I searched for a book I had recently bought in the Music category at Barnes and Noble, Tori Amos: Piece by Piece.  When I saw that the Phoenix Public Library categorized it as a biography I thought, “that’s not exactly where I would go to look for it.”  So while I can see where Dewey may no longer be the most efficient way to categorize books, I think that people have kind of gotten into the habit of walking into a library and heading straight for the catalog because they know they won’t be able to find what they’re looking for any other way.

My first social networking experience

Being from a younger generation I have had a lot of chances to experience social networking beginning at a very young age.  My first experience came in the form of a email list related to a singer I really enjoy.  When I was in Jr. High School I started listening to Tori Amos.  She was getting ready to come out with a new album and I wanted to stay as up-to-date as I could on all of the gossip related to her new album.  I came across this mailing list for Toriphiles (what the fans of Tori Amos call themselves).

I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time, but I became engrossed in the list communicating at least daily with my fellow fans.   That was back in probably 1997 or 1998 and to this day I still receive my semi-daily digest of Tori Amos related news from the Precious Things Mailing List.  It amazing for me to see how long some of these people have been actively posting to the list.  It was an extremely self-moderated list.  If anyone posted something obscene or off topic a stream of messages would come pouring in chastising them and you would never hear from them again.  It was fun to go back through the list archives to see just how it all started and to see that the list has been going strong for more than 10 years now.

Wifi and Libraries

In class Wednesday night we were assigned to groups and asked to discuss the impact that certain types of technology have had on library services. My group was asked to discuss Wifi technology. One of main things we talked about was the effect that it will have on acquisitions and storage. With the wireless devices such as laptops, PDAs, and most recently the iPhone libraries really need to start rethinking the issues of acquisitions and storage. The main question becomes… do we need to start to consider acquiring more resources that are compatible with such devices and if we do will that be the user’s preferred mode of access. Then of course if we do choose to acquire these sorts of materials will that change the way that we are storing these items?

My new L2 job assignment

I work at a small academic library. As one of my most recent jobs I have been assigned to propose and create MySpace and Facebook pages to represent our library in the world of social networking! I was so excited when I was assigned this task. Unfortunately it has to go through many proposals and approval channels before it can be published to the web. But better late than never right?!

So my first step in the assignment is to identify other academic libraries that are using MySpace, look at their pages, and determine what features might or might not work on my own library’s MySpace. So two nights ago at work I spent a good three hours of my time searching through profiles and taking notes about them. There could be worse jobs, right? Through my research came across an interesting library group. So any fellow librarian MySpacers out there should definitely check out the Libraries on MySpace group. It doesn’t seem to be just for libraries either. There are many librarians on there as well.

So if anyone knows of any academic libraries out there that have excellent MySpace or Facebook pages definitely let me know. Any tips of tricks that you may have for creating an awesome page are also greatly appreciated!