Friday, December 21, 2007

More Technology Vendors at ALA Conference?

LITA/ALA recently sent out a survey to learn which technology vendors librarians want to see in the exhibit hall at ALA Conference. Survey respondents are asked about specific hardware and software vendors--have you recently purchased from one of these companies, plan to purchase in the future, or would simply like more information. All the big vendors are listed, of course--Microsoft, Dell, Apple, Adobe, and so forth.

This is pretty exciting news to me. I feel like I need to attend multiple conferences to get the programming, networking opportunities, and vendor contacts I need. That gets expensive and it is a lot of time away from the office.

While I haven't attended an ALA conference in a few years (I'm much more active in SLA), the opportunity to see "my vendors" in the ALA exhibit hall would likely influence me to attend. These companies don't come to SLA, either--though we've been working on that. Ask me about our Technology Petting Zoo sometime.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Three Cheers for Progressive Librarians!

I am positively delighted at this post from Leah, a library science student at Dominican. Here's a snippet:

Here is a picture of University of Kentucky’s library.

That is their information commons. Isn’t it awesome? I know. Check that signage. I totally want to staff that desk. Three cheers for progressive librarians! This is one of my suggestions in the paper. Creating an information commons and hopefully having this be the first thing a patron sees when they enter the library.

The reaction to the Hub from students has been positive so far. We've been featured in the student newspaper, the student-authored campus guide, as well as a few other places. It's wonderful to see other librarians/librarians-to-be recognizing our terrific space, too!

Thanks, Michael, for the link!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The New Horizon Report?

A number of bloggers have mentioned the 2007 Horizon Report in the last week. I eagerly printed my copy and started reading last night. The content seemed familiar to me, and then I noticed the links for further reading were all articles from 2006. What really stopped me was when I came across this in the report:
As the 2007 Horizon Report was going to
press, Apple, Inc. announced what appears to
be a breakthrough product in the mobile phone
market, the iPhone. The device, which has but
one button, uses an interactive touch screen
and combines the functions of an iPod, a phone,
a web browser, and a messaging device.
I did some investigating, and it seems the 2008 Horizon report will be released January 29, 2008.

So stay tuned for the new report...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Keeping Hash Marks

Still keeping your statistics as hash marks on a sheet of paper? Have you considered upgrading to a database? Not only can you generate a variety of detailed reports quickly, you and your staff can search your knowledge base of sorts to examine frequently asked questions and other patterns.

We started using Library Stats at the Hub on July 1. Library Stats was created at Wisconsin and is freely available through the developer's project site. Library Stats is a database which allows service desk personnel to record questions for statistical purposes and create a simple, searchable knowledge base. Library Stats includes canned reports as well as the ability to download all data which can be manipulated using pivot tables in Excel. Check out their demo database to give it a test drive.

We've been so pleased with the results of using Library Stats in the Hub that all our subject libraries on campus will start using it in January. I just finished setting up a database for each location. It was a simple procedure, and I found things easy to customize as needed.

At this point, you must be thinking--what's the downside? The most obvious one is that it does take longer to record your statistics. I have encouraged Hub staff in a rush to only fill out the minimum amount of information required for our statistical reporting (or in a pinch--use paper and enter the stats later). I've found that they still tend to enter the details anyway, so I can only assume that the extra time it takes to use the database is not too burdensome.

Some tips:
  • Make launching the database and logging in part of your opening desk procedure. Make sure any written instructions and the username/password are easily accessible by anyone working your desk.
  • Create a desktop shortcut and clearly marked bookmark to your database's URL on all desk computers. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the day, the database window can inadvertently get closed.
  • Keep paper statistics forms handy for those unexpected network or power outages. So far, we've not needed them.
Once you've collected some data for awhile, the fun begins--creating your reports! More on that in a future post.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Writing about Facebook

I enjoy writing for my state association’s journal and have done so on several occasions. Like any print publication though, I find it frustrating that what I write is often out of date by the time it sees print.

In summer 2006, a colleague and I wrote one of the early articles about using Facebook and MySpace in libraries:

Greenwell, Stacey and Beth Kraemer. “Social Networking Software: Facebook and MySpace.” Kentucky Libraries. 2006. 70(4). 12-16.

The article provides an overview of both Facebook and MySpace and gives instructions and tips on creating a Facebook profile for your library. As many of you know, Facebook starting shutting down library profiles in fall 2006. We at least had time to publish an author’s note in the front of the article, but basically a good chunk of the article was out of date and not entirely useful.

That article was cited several times, and I became a little embarrassed at how outdated it had become. So in summer 2007 we thought: let's write a follow-up article that will be slightly more relevant. We wrote the second article in August 2007. This time we were more general but did cover creating a Facebook group for your library. We discussed the things we didn’t like about Facebook groups but also tips for creating a better group.

Now those of you who are following Facebook will know that Facebook launched Facebook Pages in October 2007. Facebook pages are the ideal home for a library presence—much better than the Facebook groups covered in our article. Unfortunately we weren't able to publish an author's note this time, so once again, we have an article out there that's brand new (my issue arrived on Monday) and already out of date:

Greenwell, Stacey and Beth Kraemer. “Update on Social Networking Software.” Kentucky Libraries. 2007. 71(4). 11-15.

I know it's inevitable when dealing with rapidly changing technology and that it's important to have those articles on my vita (and I certainly enjoy doing them) but I'm starting to wonder--what's the point? Who wants to create a Facebook Group for their library when they can now create a Facebook Page? How useful is this article actually going to be?

What’s interesting to me is that my first impulse was to post something to my blog. I immediately wanted to attempt to communicate with the person who might read the article and think: “why would they create a Facebook group? How silly when you can create a Facebook page now. These authors sure must not know much about Facebook.”

I’m thinking that if we do another article, we won’t focus on the mechanics of Facebook at all. What I’d really like to consider is the effectiveness of communicating in this fashion in the first place. With the new Facebook Pages, I am tickled that we have 46 fans and growing. However as I look through our fans, I see that they are mostly librarians. I have always said that Facebook is a great tool for keeping up with your librarian colleagues and discussing library issues. But how much is Facebook really helping us communicate with students? We touch on a few examples of reaching students with Facebook in our article (wall posts on student groups, ads for special events, etc.) but what will Facebook pages actually do for us?