August 19, 2009

Final Reflections

Posted in EDES 501 at 12:01 am by dmychan

What I liked most about this class was how I was challenged to use Web 2.0 technologies that I would otherwise never have tried. One such technology was Animoto. I liked how easy it was to create a professional looking slideshow. I also appreciated it’s usefulness for schools and libraries. I have to say that the two web 2.0 technologies that had the biggest impact on me during this course were RSS and Twitter. Now that I have discovered the ease of reading and organizing my RSS feeds using Google Reader I do not think I will ever go back. As for Twitter, I had resolved never to sign up for it before this course. After using it for over a month now I have to confess that I am hooked. This course has also pushed me to learn more about Web 2.0 technologies I have already been using. I had no idea of all the organizing and editing functions offered by Photobucket as I had only been using it as a image drop. It is because of this course that my photobucket images have now been culled, organized into folders, and edited to my satisfaction.

Besides learning the Web 2.0 technologies themselves, I learned a lot about how these technologies could be applied in libraries. Before beginning this course I was unable to clearly explain how Web 2.0 technologies could help libraries. For example, I knew that some libraries were on Facebook, but I was at a loss to explain why it was beneficial that libraries had Facebook pages. Through this course and my research into practical application and real-life examples of Web 2.0 use in libraries, I feel I am now much more knowledgeable in this area. This course has changed how I think about Web 2.0. Instead of just thinking how a particular technology could benefit me personally, I am now better able to think about it from a professional point of view as well.

One of the lowlights to my learning was the limited time I had to explore these Web 2.0 technologies. With some of the technologies, it seemed like I was only just learning how to use it when I had to write a blog post demonstrating my proficiency. I did find it reassuring that others in the class expressed that they felt this way as well so I did not feel as though I were the only one experiencing this. However, I suppose this could only have been expected due to the short time span of the course.

Reading the blog and discussion posts of others helped me to get to know the other people in the class better. It was nice to see that others felt the same way about things as I did, or did the same things that I did. There were others in the class who I felt used Web 2.0 technologies with a much higher proficiency and familiarity than me. I really enjoyed reading about their Web 2.0 discoveries and their original thoughts on Web 2.0. The latter part especially impressed me as I often have difficulty thinking of new and insightful things to say. I also liked how some classmates would introduce Web 2.0 technologies with a library aspect to it such as CiteULike and LibraryThing as these were particularly applicable to my professional development in learning about Web 2.0.

The Web 2.0 technologies that I have integrated into my life will help me to streamline my internet use (Google Reader) and social network in new ways (Twitter). Reading the library and information science (LIS) blogs I subscribed to for this course will contribute to my professional development by introducing me to other professionals in the LIS field and keeping me up to date on news and issues related to the LIS field. The knowledge I have gained in regards to the application of Web 2.0 technologies in libraries will be useful the next time I talk to my boss about the benefits of integrating more Web 2.0 technologies into the company library and intranet.

Most importantly, this course has motivated me to keep learning about Web 2.0 now and in the future so as to continue to be able to educate and connect with patrons and avoid “becoming obsolete, as digital technology and communication evolve around [me]” (Barack, 2009, p. 16).

References:
Barack, L. (2009, June). Social Media Specialists?. School Library Journal, 55(6), 16-17.

August 14, 2009

What’s Next?

Posted in EDES 501 at 11:58 pm by dmychan

Of the tools I have learned so far in this course, I think I would introduce social networking to my current workplace – the library of an engineering and environmental consulting firm. Studies of the information-seeking behaviors of engineers have shown that engineers generally tend not to use the library or consult librarians (Leckie, Pettigrew and Sylvain, 1996). It was also found that engineers tend to consult human information sources who are familiar to them (Fidel, 2004). As Fidel (2004) says, “helping engineers to become familiar with people who might be sources of information is of prime importance” (p. 578).

The integration of social networking into the company intranet would help engineers to get to know each other and library staff better in order to “enlarge the group of human information sources to which [they] can turn” (Fidel, 2004, p. 578) and would also allow the company to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Gregorowicz (2009) reported in Intranet Journal that an engineering consulting group’s intranet, which incorporates social networking, was highlighted by the Nielsen Normal Group as being one of the ten best intranets of the year. She also added that social networking has grown into a big trend in intranets since last year (Gregorowicz, 2009).

Besides it’s use for engineers, social networking software on the company intranet would help staff from different offices get to know each other better. Currently, the intranet provides a staff directory containing names, photos, and contact information for all staff. However, White (2007) indicates that “people want to know where others are in the organization, what projects they are working on, what expertise they have, who else they might know through a professional affiliation, and a great deal more” (p. 21).

The first step would be to select and integrate social networking software with the company intranet. After it is in place, the next step would be to advertise it’s presence on the company intranet. This could be done through a news post on the intranet itself, an article in the monthly library newsletter, a post on the intranet bulletin board, and/or a mass email to all company staff. Blowers (2008) emphasizes that it is best to use communication methods with which the staff are already familiar. For those less technologically savvy, information and tutorial sessions could be held to ease them into social networking. Blowers (2008) also suggests “encouraging the early adopters in your midst to partner with colleagues and mentor them” (p. 56). Lastly, prizes could be given to users of the social networking software in order to reward those who have joined and to motivate others to do so as well (Blowers, 2008).

In order to keep momentum going, a section on social networking could be added to the library newsletter so that staff can be updated on the company’s use of social networking and also about news and issues related to social networking as a whole. Staff reviews and/or experiences could be publicized to demonstrate the usefulness of social networking to professional development.

If the adoption of social networking software proved to be a success, my next suggestion would be to introduce social bookmarking. The company library has only just begun using Delicious – and even then only to the extent of adding bookmarks – to facilitate the sharing of internet resources among library staff. Company-wide sharing of bookmarks could be useful as engineers and other staff would be able to easily find internet resources for work and professional development recommended by their colleagues.

References:
Blowers, H. (2008, October). 10 Tips About 23 Things. School Library Journal, 54(10), 53-57.

Fidel, R. and Green, M. (2004). The many faces of accessibility: Engineers’ perception of information sources. Information Processing and Management, 40(2004), 563–581.

Gregorowicz, P. (2009). Social networking transforms the best intranets. Intranet Journal, January 29. Retrieved from http://www.intranetjournal.com/articles/200901/ij_01_29_09a.html.

Leckie, G.J., Pettigrew, K.E. and Sylvain, C. (1996). Modeling the information seeking of professionals: A general model derived from research on engineers, health care professionals, and lawyers. The Library Quarterly, 66(2) 161-193.

White, M. (2007, September). How Networked Are You?. EContent, 30(7), 21-21.

August 11, 2009

RSS and Blogging for PD

Posted in EDES 501 at 9:24 pm by dmychan

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) has been a lifesaver for me. I’ve been swamped in new material to read between following the blogs of my classmates, PD blogs, and the blogs I had already been following before the start of this course. I came to realize that visiting the website of each and every blog I was following would be an inefficient use of my time so I turned to RSS, which luckily was one of the web 2.0 tools that would be discussed later – as in now – in the course.

Although most are probably in the know by now, RSS is “an XML specification used to describe how to display content (also known as a feed) in a piece of software called a news aggregator” (Miller, 2004). The news aggregator I chose to use was Google Reader – mainly because I already had a Google account so the signup process was abbreviated. I liked how it easy it was to add subscriptions to Google Reader and how simple Google Reader made it to organize and share these subscriptions – or posts within them – with others. Another feature I liked was the trends Google showed me of how and what I read.

RSS is also useful for aggregating more than blog posts. Libraries have been using RSS feeds to promote services and provide their subscribers with announcements related to the library. An example close to home is that of the University of Alberta Libraries. Their RSS feeds are used for library instruction and announcements of new books among other topics. The Vancouver Public Library also offers RSS feeds for library news and non-fiction subjects. Their page is a bit outdated though as Google Reader is not listed as a Web-based RSS Reader. Other applications of RSS feeds in libraries can include “extended services, e-journals and table of contents services, reference service, library blogs, web resource announcements, search resource, books, newsgroups, search results, and RSS-based search engines” (Bansode, S., Dahibhate, N., & K. Ingale, 2009, p.3).

I can’t quite remember how I came to subscribe to the Library and Information Science (LIS) blogs that I did as I did so early in July, but I do remember Googling for LIS blogs and getting to a website where the top LIS blogs of the year were listed. I subscribed to some of the blogs listed from 2006 to 2008. Of these, my two favorites were Stephen’s Lighthouse (from the 2008 list) and A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette (from the 2006) list. I was inclined to choose Stephen’s Lighthouse for multiple reasons. Firstly, I was an SLA member when he was SLA president so I at least knew who he was. Secondly, I heard him speak at SLIS and his presentation really made me think. Lastly, the content of his blog was interesting to me as he often puts up informative graphics or short posts with comments to make me think. My second favorite LIS blog was chosen because I liked the library humor. It is an example of a LIS blog that does not have to do with LIS related developments and news.

According to Farkas (2009), “many good blogs contain a mixture of the personal and professional” or they may otherwise “start to look like nothing more than short-form journal articles” (p. 43). It is this combination that sometimes presents problems in the LIS blogosphere. One prominent example of this was when the Annoyed Librarian’s blog was integrated with the Library Journal website. Some slammed the decision, asking questions like “how can a reputable publication host an anonymous blogger who uses her anonymity to lob barbs at professionals with whom she disagrees?” (Fialkoff, 2008, p. 8). In response, Fialkoff (2008) says, “in a field that fights for free expression but sometimes finds that it’s hard to practice within the confines of a library job, it is surprising that there are those who can’t cut [the Annoyed Librarian] some slack” (p. 8). Where does one draw the line between personal and professional? After all, it is the very anonymity of bloggers such as the Annoyed Librarian that allows them to challenge us to think about LIS in new ways without personal or professional repercussions.

References:
Bansode, S., Dahibhate, N., & Ingale, K. (2009, Spring). RSS Applications in Libraries and Information Centres. Library Philosophy & Practice, 11(1), 1-4.

Farkas, M. (2007, December 15). The bloggers among us. Library Journal, 132(20), 40-43.

Fialkoff, F. (2008, November). Librarians Too Annoyed. Library Journal, pp. 8-8.

Miller, R. (2004, March). Can RSS Relieve Information Overload?. EContent, 27(3), 20-24.

August 7, 2009

Twitter

Posted in EDES 501 at 3:20 am by dmychan

As someone who rarely updates her Facebook status, I did not see the need for a Twitter account. In fact, I was downright skeptical of it’s worth and swore I would never use it. I did end up signing up for an account though, thanks to this course. I added a Twitter widget to my blog so that my updates are available to view there. If you are curious as to what my actual Twitter page looks like, please go here

Surprisingly, I’ve found that I kind of like Twitter. It is a great way to stay connected with friends – especially when they update Twitter more often than Facebook. I also like that I can follow celebrities. I find that the short updates they write on Twitter are more reflective of their personality as well as honest, in contrast to what you can find out about them in magazines and entertainment news. Another thing I liked about Twitter was how easy it was to sign up for an account, add/block people, and tweet in general.

I did note a couple of areas that I would like to see improved. One of these is the search function. I did not find that it returned particularly useful results. For example, searching for “backstreet boys” will only net you fans of the Backstreet Boys. Searching “backstreetboys”, however, will retrieve their official Twitter account. Another problem is the inaccurate follower count. This really bothered me at one point – I kept wondering why my follower count was higher than the number of followers actually listed on the followers page – so I went to look in the help section of Twitter in hopes that I would be able to fix it. Instead, I found that this was a relatively common problem that would be fixed eventually by Twitter.

As for the use of Twitter by librarians, Cole (2009) summarizes the reasons for using Twitter into 4 categories: asking for help, promoting yourself, making connections, and being helpful. An example from each of these categories includes asking for recommended books, adding photos of library events to Twitpic, networking with other Twittering librarians, and sharing useful resources (Cole, 2009). Some libraries have already adopted Twitter. One example is the Vancouver Public Library, which uses Twitter to update followers on VPL news and events as well as general library news, and also to answer questions directed to their Twitter page. Milstein (2009) cites examples of university and corporate libraries using Twitter. Examples of the former use Twitter to broadcast updates such as service issues in the library, while the latter use Twitter to share information outside of the company. Libraries also use Twitter to follow reputable information resources, such as Library Journal or the Vancouver Sun newspaper, so that visitors browsing the library’s followers can easily find resources to follow (Milstein, 2009).

All in all, I think I may have to keep using Twitter after I am no longer required to. It has become yet another Web 2.0 tool that has integrated itself so well into my internet use that I now can’t imagine not using it anymore – even if just to compulsively check for updates from the people I’m following.

References:
Cole, S. (2009, June 15). 20 Ways for Librarians To Use Twitter. Library Journal, 134(11), 25-25.

Milstein, S. (2009, May). Twitter FOR Libraries (and Librarians). Computers in Libraries, 29(5), 17-18.

August 5, 2009

Social Networking

Posted in EDES 501 at 2:54 am by dmychan

The first social networking site I tried was Friendster. I didn’t use it very much before abandoning it altogether. It was only under duress that I signed up for Facebook. One of my friends in Toronto told me that that was the only way I could contact her online as she rarely checked her email. Once I signed up I was hooked. It seemed as though I was on Facebook all the time. About a month or two into my newfound obsession my workplace blocked access to Facebook at work. This was very helpful in bringing my Facebook use down to a more moderate level. I still login to Facebook everyday, but nowadays I am not as interactive. I mostly go to look at updates. I have never used MySpace – nor have I felt tempted to – mostly because the customizations people use on their profiles makes their pages aesthetically displeasing. Also, my use of social networking sites is dictated by my friends. I only joined Friendster in the first place because my friends were there. Just like I switched instant messengers from ICQ to MSN because my friends did.

In any case, for the purposes of this blog post I have decided to explore Facebook. I’ve used Facebook for a long time, so I couldn’t think of anything new to do with it off the top of my head. I went to the Help Center to see if there was anything I hadn’t tried yet, then decided to try importing my blog using the Notes application. First, I went to my profile and added Notes as a new tab. I clicked the “Write a New Note” button, but it didn’t have a blog importing function. I then tried “Edit Settings” under Notes’ Application Settings, but it wasn’t there either. I then found it by clicking on Notes under Application Settings. I was amazed by how difficult it was to find. Once I found the page to import my blog it was only a matter of putting in the URL, checking off the disclaimer box, and then importing the posts. I finished off by playing with some of the privacy settings and deleting notifications about it on my wall.

The maintenance of my privacy on Facebook – and on the web in general – has always been something that I am aware of. I always try to keep personally identifying information to a minimum. I am careful of what I share and who I share it with. There is a larger scale issue to be considered, however, if I were ever to delete my Facebook account. As Notes (2009) says, “the whole point of creating content for a social network is to share it” (p. 43). What should happen to a deleted user’s content? I have had 2 friends remove their Facebook accounts. I only noticed when I realized that I couldn’t see any of the interactions we had with each other. It was as if they had never been on Facebook. While this was not a big change for me – as neither were frequent users of Facebook – what would happen if the groups, notes, and conversations of a more active user had been deleted? It would be detrimental to the history and future of the larger conversation that takes place in social networks. Currently, Facebook saves some profile information from deactivated users, such as photos and friends, unless said users have specifically requested permanent deletion. Should there really be a difference between deactivating and deleting a Facebook account?

This privacy issue is only one of the reasons why librarians ought to become familiar with web 2.0 tools like social networking. Another reason is so librarians “can take advantage of the features that new tools offer and tap into students’ [or patrons’] natural affinity for these tools in order to create learning experiences that expand their worldview and enhance what they learn” (Solomon & Schrum, 2009, p. 24) Libraries can use Facebook “to expand their services and presence on the web” (Sekyere, 2009, p. 25). Facebook can be used to promote library services and show photos of the library itself. Reference librarians could use Facebook to provide reference services to patrons they are friends with. The University at Buffalo Libraries page on Facebook is an excellent example of what libraries can do with Facebook. Some of the resources available include subject guides, catalogue access, student FAQs, and library information. The page has 462 fans and, “based on user response and Page statistics, librarians found the use of Facebook Pages provided a welcome extension of services and a unique form of outreach that reached beyond the campus community” (Ganster & Schumacher, 2009, p. 111).

Whether or not social networking is here to stay, this is a web 2.0 technology librarians need to know about in order to educate and connect with their patrons. The alternative is for librarians to “see their positions becoming obsolete, as digital technology and communication evolve around them and they’re left behind” (Barack, 2009, p. 16).

References:
Barack, L. (2009, June). Social Media Specialists?. School Library Journal, 55(6), 16-17.

Ganster, L., & Schumacher, B. (2009, April). Expanding Beyond our Library Walls: Building an Active Online Community through Facebook. Journal of Web Librarianship, 3(2), 111-128.

Notes, G. (2009, July). Privacy in the Age of the Social Web. Online, 33(4), 41-43.

Sekyere, K. (2009, Summer). Too much Hullabaloo about Facebook in Libraries! Is it really helping libraries? Nebraska Library Association Quarterly, 40(2), 25-27.

Solomon, G. and L. Schrum. Web 2.0: New tools, new schools. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education, 2007.

July 30, 2009

Mashups

Posted in EDES 501 at 7:13 pm by dmychan

I had no idea what a mashup was before this week. For the record, mashups are web applications that “combine and integrate information from two or more sources into one new information form” (McPherson, 2008, p. 73). Mashups are good web 2.0 tools to know about because they “enable users to do new things or accomplish common tasks with newfound efficiency” (Liu, Horton, Olmanson, & Wang, 2008, p. 243). With this in mind, I realized that I have in fact encountered mashups before. The most recent one I tried out was the Edmonton Police Service’s Neighborhood Crime Map, a combination of reported crime information and Google Maps. Types of crimes over selected periods of time are plotted out on a map of the neighborhood you’re interested in. Statistics are also available. Looking at the results for my neighborhood makes me grateful that nothing has happened to me. I would be really interested in seeing one for my neighborhood in BC.

Another mashup I found out about during my research was Scriblio, an OPAC made to look like WordPress with added functionality from Amazon.com that is currently being used at the Plymouth State University Lamson Library and Learning Commons (Ramos & Gauthier, 2007). In addition to this, other Web 2.0 technologies are incorporated into this online catalog including social bookmarking and RSS.

After going through the trailfire links, I decided to try using Animoto. The reported ease of creating music video-like slideshows out of my photos intrigued me. The first picture I uploaded didn’t work. It only said “image error” which I found confusing until I looked to the right and it said that the file was too big. I then decided to use photos from animoto’s stock collection instead of going through all my pictures and re-saving them as smaller files. I picked some out of the Nature group and added them to my group of images. When I went back to pick some more though the application stopped working properly. I got it to work again by switching to the music tab, then back. Luckily, my work so far was still there. I liked how it informed you of what type of legit music could be uploaded, but I ended up using stock music anyway. I really liked how easy it was to create a video. The entire process only took a few minutes. Most of my time was spent choosing images and music. I also like how Animoto will email you once your video is done so you don’t have to stay on the page to finish creating the video. I couldn’t embed my video – the code given wouldn’t work – so please view it here if you’re curious.

Animoto is a useful Web 2.0 tool for schools. The Animoto for Education page shows that the people behind Animoto already know this. Animoto allows students to showcase their creativity and knowledge of course content through the creation of videos. Teachers can use the videos they create to “introduce instructional units, showcase ideas, or frame concepts with a musical element” (Brisco, 2008, p. 64).

Librarians can also use Animoto in a similar way, for example to create instructional videos or promote the library. Patrons could be challenged to use Animoto to make library-related videos expressing their love of the library or books they have read. However, the ease with which Animoto videos can be distributed through Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and many other ways means that users need to be aware of the implications this distribution has on the safety of their personal information and privacy. Copyright is, of course, an issue when using images and/or music files that are not completely your own.

References:
Brisco, S. (2008, July). ANIMOTO. School Library Journal, 54(7), 64-64.

Liu, M., Horton, L., Olmanson, J., & Wang, P. (2008, September). An Exploration of Mashups and Their Potential Educational Uses. Computers in the Schools, 25(3/4), 243-258.

McPherson, K. (2008, June). Mashing literacy. Teacher Librarian, 35(5), 73-75.

Ramos, M., & Gauthier, D. (2007, June). Mash It Up!. Searcher, 15(6), 17-22.

July 27, 2009

Wikis

Posted in EDES 501 at 2:46 am by dmychan

How can I write a blog post on wikis without mentioning Wikipedia? I have been a long-time user of Wikipedia. It’s a great place to go for quick, relatively trustworthy information. This year, I also began using Wikipedia as a stress-reliever from school by going into articles and making minor edits such as correcting the placement of ref tags or correcting wikilinks. (Geeky, I know.) I did it so often that I was welcomed to Wikipedia.

Outside of Wikipedia, I am familiar with wikis through a project I worked on with two classmates during LIS 506. For this project, I created a main article on the history of the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) that was over 800 words long.
History of the Open Archives Initiative

I also contributed in writing an overview article on the OAI, brief 150 word articles, and some stubs.
My Contributions

As for libraries, Courtney (2007) explored three major uses of wikis: for internal communication between staff at a library, for institutional collaboration between multiple libraries, and as a research guide for patrons and library staff to consult.

Chu (2009) investigated the use of wikis in academic libraries in various countries around the world including Singapore, the United States, China, and Australia. He found that the majority of libraries were using wikis to share information among librarians. This was because the use of wikis for this reason allowed “users who know something to provide answers and assistance to those who do not” (Chu, 2009, p. 172).

Wikis were approached from a different angle by Bowllan (2008), who suggested their use for novel studies. Students studying a novel could use the wiki to engage in collaborative learning by using the wiki to create a project on the book. The teacher as well as the students could all contribute information related to the book be it on the time period of the book, the location, or even the foods mentioned in it. I undertook a similar collaborative project using wikis (as mentioned above) during LIS 506. I can definitely see how this would be useful in engaging patrons in featured books and/or summer reading programs in a public library system.

When considering wikis as a research source, Wikipedia is usually the first wiki to come to mind despite its questionable reliability. Wikis can also be used as a collection of library research guides, as discussed by Courtney (2007). In her article, Bell (2008) discussed how some smaller, less-well-known wikis are legitimate research resources. One example of these is the Wiki-Afghan, a military access only wiki used “to record and pass along … vital operational information” (Bell, 2008, p. 34). Another example is the Sleep Apnea Wiki which is self-described as “a place where people with sleep apnea can share and build a database of helpful information” (Bell, 2008, p. 36). The amount of advertising on the wiki can be a bit off-putting, but the information within is still relevant for those who wish to know more about sleep apnea.

How may wikis develop in the future? One place to look is at WikiGenes, a biological science wiki that, unlike all other wikis, incorporates “unambiguous authorship attribution and thus a basis for reputation systems” (Hoffmann, 2008, p. 1049). This facilitates original and novel research among scientists that can be reviewed by the wiki community. This new type of wiki can directly benefit librarians involved in research as well as people who are interested in keeping up with the latest developments in the library and information science field.

References:
Bell, S. (2008, November). Wikis as Legitimate Research Sources. Online, 32(6), 34-37. Retrieved July 26, 2009, from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text database.

Bowllan, A. (2008, September). A Wiki Gives a Worthy Book New Life. School Library Journal, 54(9), 20-20. Retrieved July 26, 2009, from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text database.

Chu, S. (2009, March). Using Wikis in Academic Libraries. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(2), 170-176. Retrieved July 26, 2009, from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text database.

Courtney, N. Library 2.0 and beyond: Innovative technologies and tomorrow’s user. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

Hoffman, R. (2008, September). A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics, 40(9), 1047-1051. Retrieved July 26, 2009, doi:10.1038/ng.f.217

July 23, 2009

Virtual Libraries

Posted in EDES 501 at 1:41 am by dmychan

Before blogging in depth on this topic, I suppose I should explain what virtual libraries are. According to Gunn (2002), virtual libraries are collections of organized and accessible digital information. They are not online representatives of physical collections.

Lately, it seems that when people talk about virtual libraries they also mention Second Life. I first heard about Second Life at the 2008 SLA conference in Seattle. Attendees were encouraged to try out Second Life and a short video of avatars at SLA’s Pavilion in Second Life was shown during the opening session. (I didn’t find the video particularly interesting, but I included a link to it for the curious.) Second Life is like an MMORPG (Massively MultiPlayer Online Role-Playing Game) in that it is set in a virtual world where there are many other people to interact with, but without the game aspect of it. As a result, you are free to do what you like in Second Life – including shopping or going to school like SLIS students at San Jose State University.

In 2006, the Alliance Library System started the Second Life Library 2.0 to explore library services in virtual space and promote online and real-life library services to people on Second Life among other reasons (Hedreen et al., 2008). “Branches” of the library can be found in various locations all over Second Life. Film discussions, database trials, instructional classes and a health information collection are only some of the things the Second Life Library 2.0 has to offer. The Alliance Virtual Library blog provides updates on events, exhibits, and other news related to the Second Life Library 2.0. As to why the Second Life Library 2.0 is important, the fact that there are over 5,000 visitors everyday speaks for itself (Abrams, 2007).

Libraries do not have to part of a virtual world like Second Life to be considered a virtual library, of course. There are many virtual libraries on the internet. One example of these is the World Digital Library, which is a multi-lingual collection of cultural materials from all over the world. Another example is the Canadian Forces Virtual Library (CFVL), a collection developed for the professional development and education of the Canadian Department of National Defence staff. Finally, digital collections are provided by the Kentucky Virtual Library (KYVL) to support academic and special libraries in Kentucky.

With the organization, collection, and use of all these digital resources, librarians now must consider how these resources may be preserved. Again, this is an issue that was first brought to my attention at the 2008 SLA conference. Vint Cerf, vice president of Google, talked about how we rely on software to read digital data, but “if that software becomes obsolete, we will not be able to understand the objects” (ITI Bloggers, 2008). Using an example in simpler terms, how would we read the information stored on floppy disks if all floppy drives were thrown away? Other related issues are that of “what should be saved, how it should be done, and who is responsible” (Berger, 2009, p. 67).

What are your thoughts on virtual librarianship in Second Life? Have you considered the preservation of digital information?

References:
Abrams, S. (2007). Rev up your avatars – Future libraries’ third Presence in Second Life. SirsiDynix OneSource, 3(2).

Berger, S. (2009, July). The Evolving Ethics of Preservation: Redefining Practices and Responsibilities in the 21st Century. Serials Librarian, 57(1/2), 57-68. Retrieved July 23, 2009, doi:10.1080/03615260802669086

Gunn, H. (2002). Virtual libraries supporting student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 8(2), 27-37.

Hedreen, R., Johnson, J., Lundy, M., Burnette, P., Perryman, C., Van Den Brekel, G., et al. (2008, April). Exploring Virtual Librarianship: Second Life Library 2.0. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 13(2/3), 167-195. Retrieved July 23, 2009, doi:10.1080/10875300802103833

ITI Bloggers. (2008, June 16). Charlie Rose interviews Vint Cerf at opening session. Message posted to http://www.infotodayblog.com/2008/06/16/charlie-rose-interviews-vint-cerf-at-opening-session/

Toomey, S. (2008, December). The Canadian Forces Virtual Library (CFVL). Journal of Hospital Librarianship, 8(4), 433-439. Retrieved July 23, 2009, doi:10.1080/15323260802383909

July 20, 2009

Podcasts

Posted in EDES 501 at 2:55 am by dmychan

NOTE: Just noticed that I forgot to change the visibility of this post.

I have never been interested in listening to podcasts, so I was first exposed to podcasting last year when I created a podcast reviewing institutional repositories in Canadian Universities for LIS 506. I created one introductory episode, and then another reviewing the University of Waterloo’s institutional repository. I remembered creating the episodes to be fairly simple. I used Audacity to record my audio files, then converted them to mp3s. I then used my knowledge of HTML and CSS to create transcripts of the episodes and an RSS feed for the podcast itself. The only problem I had with this project – besides trying to think of what to say – was timing the recording of the audio between my laptop fan and fridge fan going off in order to minimize the amount of background noise there was. Despite my efforts, a fan went off in the middle of my recording at least once so I had to splice together sections of audio. This was also a bit difficult as the cadence of speech and intonations used had to match in both sections so that the splice would be unnoticeable.

As for listening to podcasts, I chose to use iTunes for my first foray into this territory. The Podcast Directory in the iTunes Store offers thousands of free podcasts to listen to. These are sorted by category (such as TV & Film), provider, popularity and other criteria, making it easy to find podcasts in line with my interests. Adding an episode to my iTunes library was as simple as clicking the “Get Episode” button. I liked how iTunes listed the other podcasts subscribers were listening to so that I could find other podcasts I might like. I don’t think I will be listening to or creating more podcasts anytime soon, but I can see how this web 2.0 technology could be useful in libraries.

Naturally, librarians ought to be familiar with podcasting in order to help their patrons use this technology – be it to listen to a podcast or create their own. Students are learning about and using web 2.0 technologies at a young age. Podcasts in particular are used to share poems and stories (Hauser, 2009). Because of this, parents may want to learn more about podcasting to understand what their children are doing. Hauser (2009) suggests that workshops for parents be held in order for them to feel more comfortable with web 2.0 technologies.

Libraries can also create their own podcasts “to promote services and provide basic instruction in using library resources” (Ralph & Olsen, 2007, p. 272). Podcasts allow libraries to share information with their patrons without requiring them to physically go to the library. While library websites may also serve this function, podcasts are unique in that are “a useful learning tool for the auditory learner who prefers to learn through listening rather than reading large chunks of text” (Ralph & Olsen, 2007, p. 273). The Curtin University Library in Bentley, Australia initial podcasting series was well received, reaching 33,000 downloads within 2 years. Their library now offers 3 podcasting series: Research Skills Podcasts, Book Reviews, and Opinion@Curtin University Library (Curtin University Library, 2009). Perhaps this is something the University of Alberta Libraries could consider offering.

Podcasts can also be used in libraries to enhance exhibits on display, provide library education, update listeners on library events and news, and share recorded presentations (Courtney, 2007).

References:
Courtney, N. Library 2.0 and beyond: Innovative technologies and tomorrow’s user. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

Curtin University Library. (2009). Podcasts: Curtin University Library. Retrieved July 19, 2009, from http://library.curtin.edu.au/research_and_information_skills/online_tutorials/podcasts/

Hauser, J. (2009, February). Be the Web Go-To Person for Parents! (cover story). School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(6), 24-26. Retrieved July 19, 2009, from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text database.

Ralph, J., & Olsen, S. (2007). Podcasting as an Educational Building Block in Academic Libraries. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 38(4), 270-9. Retrieved July 19, 2009, from OmniFile Full Text Mega database.

July 16, 2009

Social Bookmarking

Posted in EDES 501 at 3:12 am by dmychan

My first experience with social bookmarking was when I first signed up for a personal account on Delicious a few years ago. I added some bookmarks and then never signed in again. This was because I know the sites I’ve bookmarked pretty well and it’s faster to just type in the urls or look them up on Google than signing in to Delicious to access them.

More recently, I have been adding the bookmarks stored by my boss at work on to Delicious. With three library staff in Vancouver and one in Calgary we decided that using Delicious to share useful websites would be a worthwhile endeavor. I’ve gotten over 100 up so far, as you can see here. I’m working off a set of pre-determined tags so the tagging is fairly general. I really like the option of looking at what other people have tagged the same website as because it helps me to add tags when I’m not familiar with the content of the website. I especially appreciate how easy it is to add tags to bookmarks by typing them, using autocomplete, or clicking on suggested and/or popular terms. I’m also glad that there is a way to globally change the names of tags themselves without having to go into each tagged item and re-saving them.

The biggest problem I have with Delicious is the inability to use spaces to create multi-word tags. Because of this, users are forced to create artificial multi-word tags using a variety of word separators (such as _ or .) or no separators at all. Some users even mis-tag their bookmarks by automatically separating their words with spaces, thereby creating partial tags. Problems such as these only exacerbate the lack of synonym control present in user-based tagging systems (Courtney, 2007). Searching bookmarks is made more difficult as, for example, a user would have to use the terms las, vegas, lasvegas, las.vegas, and las_vegas in order to do a thorough search for bookmarks related to Las Vegas. It would be helpful to use a common multi-word tagging convention in order to increase precision.

As I’ve already illustrated, social bookmarking is useful in a library context for sharing useful online resources between library staff separated geographically. Perhaps when I am finished adding all the bookmarks – of which there are many, many more – they could also be a reference source for engineers in the company. There are, in fact, social bookmarking websites marketed directly towards engineers. In his article, MacLeod (2009) introduces IET Discover, a website he believes will be heavily used, which is free for engineers to use to share tagged bookmarks, join groups, and create homepages. Developments such as these are important for librarians in the engineering field to be aware of.

The integration of social bookmarking into libraries is another step towards getting patrons to visit the library website, use library resources, become engaged library users, and recognize the library as a provider of information for the community (Rethlefsen, 2007). Some libraries are using social bookmarking in their catalogues. Steele (2009) points out that “by adding a tagging system to their OPAC, a library creates more access points, and more ways to get users to find what their library has to offer” (p. 77).

The University of Pennsylvania hosts its own tagging system called PennTags for their university community. It is notable in that PennTag users can add projects to the system (Steele, 2009). However, Trexler (2007), holds Diigo as a model of the best in social bookmarking. Some of the functions available include saving webpages with highlighted text, adding sticky notes to important areas on a webpage, and exporting webpages to your computer as well as other social bookmarking websites. Librarians can use Diigo to “create annotated bibliographies, subject guides to curriculum topics, reading lists, build a collection of classroom resources collaboratively, create customized tags for use by classes, create differentiated lists of resources on the same topic, collect web-based projects under a custom tag to place on a school, library, or class wiki, blog or web page” (Trexler, 2007, p. 34).

Other uses of social bookmarking in libraries can include sharing special collections such as historical film or photo archives, informing patrons of new books, and recommending similar books.

Outside of the library, librarians can also use social bookmarking for collecting resources for conference presentations, professional development, and reference (Cosentino, 2008). Familiarity with social bookmarking is, as with other Web 2.0 technologies, useful for engaging patrons who already use these technologies as well as for teaching patrons who are still learning about them. As Steele (2009) says, “no system is perfect, but by offering as many tools possible, libraries can continue to be information providers in the Web 2.0 environment” (p. 77).

References:
Cosentino, S. (2008, March). Folksonomies: Path to a better way? Public Libraries, 47(2), 42-47. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text database.

Courtney, N. Library 2.0 and beyond: Innovative technologies and tomorrow’s user. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited.

MacLeod, R. (2009, February). Engineering information improves socially. Research Information. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text database.

Rethlefsen, M. L. (2007). Tags help make libraries del.icio.us. Library Journal, 132, 26-8.

Steele, T. (2009, February). The new cooperative cataloging. Library Hi Tech, 27(1), 68-77. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text database.

Trexler, S. (2007). The best of social bookmarking: Diigo. Information Searcher, 17(3), 34-6. Retrieved July 16, 2009, from OmniFile Full Text Mega database.

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