Internet Librarian 2010: Fail! Learn! Share!

**The winner, crowned Royal Majesty of Failure – Margaret Hazel!**

Beth Gallaway – Game Design Failure
Beth Gallaway started the Fail! Learn! Share! session by talking about failing at gaming.  She tried to use Ben10 and Scratch to create a game. She showed a tag cloud of the words used in her correspondence with her colleague about getting the session set up.  The IT manager was on vacation.  All their computers were set up with the software for a teen game creation program.  But all the computers shut down and ran the Deep Freeze program, erasing the game installations they’d worked so hard on.  She has 5 lessons learned:
1) Talk directly with IT
2) Bring backup laptops
3) Be flexible
4) Offer low and no tech activities as a back-up
Don’t panic
The first week failed.  The second week failed too — the teens wanted to create shooting games with Scratch, and that didn’t fly with the library management.  The lack of communication, delays, and lack of focus on the end user.

Margaret Hazel – Unified City Website Failure
The City Manager decided that the city website needed to be one look and one feel, with portal software.  It was publicly funded and very visible because of the public money directed at the project.  The City departments involved were not experienced with website creation, usability, or content creation.  The portal product was purchased and implemented, but the project failed because their portal product was phased out, professional relationships were damaged in the process.  She also highlighted personal failures including crying at a meeting.  But she did get a mug and a certificate!  Yay!  Believe in your project and goals, organize what you want to say, back it up with data, and say “Stand Back I’m a Librarian!”

Jeff Scott – Computer Time Management Failure
They had $10,000 to set up a computer time management system.  Jeff pitched an open source solution and the director and IT manager both liked it.  The one guy in IT who didn’t like the idea got assigned to the project.  It took 3 months to develop and install the system, and it lasted all of 5 minutes.  All was going well, and then everything started slowing down – the network freaked out.  Lessons learned – ask the right questions of the right people before starting.  Treat every project like a request for proposal.  Get the details about implementations, what happened, and how they like it.  And prepare for success as well as failure – what will you do if everything goes fubar?

Andrew Shuping – Learning Commons Failure
People in his library liked “the idea” of a learning commons – buzzword envy!  In 2009 they decided Andrew was going to become the Learning Commons Librarian and it didn’t work!  There was no clear goal for the project, nor any new spaces for the commons or money to use for the project.  There were no clear reporting or organizational lines.  People were hung up on traditional approaches as well.  But worst of all – no one could agree on what a learning commons was!  Without any clear definition, there was no way the project was going to succeed. “Having an idea and calling it that doesn’t make it reality.”

Kim Silk – Intranet Failure
She shows a word cloud of “a corner of her brain.”  She works at the University of Toronto, and she doesn’t have to deal with the bureaucracy.  She works for Richard Florida, a bit of a big deal in Canada.  When she started she was told that the library had 2 terrabytes of data but no one knew where anything was.  They tried a number of intranet tools and ended up with SharePoint, and it doesn’t work on various platforms as a good intranet tool should.  She fails daily, but she has a supportive manager who is okay with her failing regularly.

Sandra Stewart – SharePoint Intranet Failure
The San Jose Public Library has a collaboration with the San Jose State University Library.  Both institutions have different missions, and at the end of 2007 decided to get SharePoint so the two different institutions could collaborate.  The product was purchased without a plan for rolling it out.  “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him learn SharePoint!”  There are still staff members who don’t know how to use SharePoint.  She was an early adopter and was not included in the pilot group, and that’s wrong.  When it finally rolled out, she forced her staff to use SharePoint by taking away their paper calendar and putting all of that information on to SharePoint.  You need to train, train, and train more.  You need to require adoption of new tech by taking away the old alternative.  And always, always let the early adopters in first.

Internet Librarian 2010: Brand Awareness: Lessons for Libraries

Michelle Wilde, Cathy Cranston, and Louise Feldman from the Colorado State University Libraries
The CSU Libraries decided to specifically use Facebook use for students in universities at the undergraduate level with specific research needs.  Turnbull and Bright published a study in 2008 about using Google AdWords as a way to draw more students in.  Based on that study, the CSU Libraries got funding for both Google AdWords and Facebook ads.  Both Google and Facebook provided statistics on the click-throughs and they set up URLs that they could monitor to see how many people were drawn from the ad into their EBSCO article database Academic Search Premier.  Over several months they could see users coming to EBSCO from both Google and Facebook as a result of the campaign.  They used the terms “scholarly” and “peer-reviewed” as those were requirements the students often came to the libraries with.  They used a series of different images, “from cute puppies to rocker dudes” and then changed their image as finals week approached to large yellow warning signs saying things like “Paper Due?”  They ran four campaigns in total, testing out their efficacy.  They tried two methods of paying for it too — cost per click or the impression model.  The impression model worked best for them as it was a predictable cost.  They found that Facebook advertising was not effective because that is not where students are spending their time when they’re in research mode.  They discovered that with Google, they could use terms and phrases in their AdWords that were more lengthy and research-oriented than in Facebook.  They mentioned Google’s keyword locator (great for synonym-finding).  Since they couldn’t use IP addresses as a restricting factor in who sees the ads, they ran them in a 15 mile radius around Fort Collins–to see what the smallest radius they could use would be.  They found that didn’t work and they weren’t picking up the university users at all.  So, instead, they advertised to a 4km radius around campus.  And this worked — but they still weren’t showing up on campus computers when they’d use Google looking for the ads.  So, they opened it up to a 10km radius around campus, and this worked — ads started appearing on campus.  Google ads would show up in sidebars as well as in preferred results, header ads on blogs, etc.  People coming in through Google AdWords actually did follow through to the article databases.  By changing the ad locations they were able to drop their cost per use dramatically.  They were disappointed with Google’s customer support.  Focus on Google AdWords and have a flexible budget to try out over  several months.  Just for this conference, they set up an ad.  Do a Google search for Awesome CSU Librarians, and you should see a CSU ad which takes you to a page where their presentation is posted.

Beatrice Pulliam, Providence College; Laura Kohl, Bryant University; Talia Resendes, Johnson & Wales University
Beatrice started out by talking about using branding to keep users coming back.  What is it about your brand, your library that keeps them coming back?  Whether you’re purposely branding or not, you are indeed still branding through all of your customer experiences.  You want your brand to be everywhere — signage, id tags, online presence, printed materials, etc.
Talia talked about messaging in an online environment.  The subliminal message that we want to get across is that the user has come to the right place. Using a logo is one small part, but in reality your online brand is also all about your resources — what you’re giving the users. If you haven’t thought about mobile service delivery, you really need to do that.  Your Facebook page should cross-link to your library’s website and your library’s website should cross-link to your Facebook page.  Are you using your computer’s screen-savers to advertise too?
Laura concluded the talk by discussing interactive experiences and branding those.  You can use multimedia experiences and interactions with your users and you can have technology assist and intermediate interactions between staff and customers.  Several tools she recommended: Blabberize, Animoto, Jing, Prezi, Glogster, Xtranormal.  At Bryant they created an Xtranormal video (text-to-speech animated movies, super easy to make).  They also used Blabberize to create a short animated ad, in this case synching up a staff member’s voice to an animated talking dog’s head.  They also used PowerPoint and Captivate for screencasts.  Glogster is an online digital poster-creation tool.  The “poster” is kind of like a mini-web-page with whatever embedded media or links you want.  Libraries and librarians communicate with users through texting, IM (inc. the good old Meebo chat widget), and they use Jing short on-demand screencasts that they can send to students to help them get what they need immediately.  They’re measuring success through anecdotal customer feedback during interactions.

Internet Librarian 2010: Mobile Usability

October 25, 2010 | Comments Off on Internet Librarian 2010: Mobile Usability

Internet Librarian 2010: Mobile Usability

Jeff Wisniewski

Usability is the study of the relative ease with which a user can complete a given task.  We want users to be able to do something — the sites are there for use, so how do we do it right?  There are major guidelines for app development for all of the major platforms.  Even if you’re developing a mobile site, not an app, the guidelines can still be helpful to show you the experience your users expect.  Also check out the W3C’s Mobile OK Checker to ensure your mobile site meets coding standards.  Not only are you designing for occasional inexperienced users, but highly distract-able occasional inexperienced users.  Instead of thinking of broad detailed tasks, focus on smaller micro-interactions (like finding the hours).  Desktop sites are wide, tend to be deep, and very complex.  They are stable and get infrequent use.  And you can predict how folks will be interacting with your site — a mouse, keyboard, trackpad, etc.  Mobile sites need to be simple, slim, and get even more infrequent use.  But the device proliferation and fragmentation within OSs has created a difficult situation for predicting how our users will be interacting with our sites.  What should we test on mobile sites?  Functional testing — much more critical in mobile than in desktop.  Task-based testing.  User satisfaction surveys are important too.  Mobile resource usability is affected by so many layers — the hardware of the device (processor, screen size), the device OS, the flavor of user interface (as with the HTC Sense UI for Android), the device browser, etc.  There are of course the popular touch-screen mobile phones, non-touch screen mobile phones, quick messaging phones, and the tablets/pads proliferating like gangbusters.  Jeff suggests first to conduct a heuristic evaluation of your content.  Then he recommends doing some rapid paper prototyping to sketch up UIs.  There are a number of simulators and emulators to use on your desktop computer to view what the mobile site will look like. Jeff showed some examples of basic and seriously advanced paper prototyping.  You can do some HTML prototyping too, a wireframe of a mobile site testable on desktops and mobile devices.  Jeff provided a long list of emulators and simulators, but recommended that we test our mobile content on someone’s real device that they use every day.  Just pull in those favors from your colleagues. There is a tool called MobiReady that checks your mobile site’s code (similar to W3C MobileOK Checker).  Jeff recommends Browsercam, which does offer mobile browser previews.  Another tool, DeviceAnywhere, collects data for mobile testing.  It’s helpful to also gather more subjective user feedback as well — Did they like the site?  Would they use it again?  Ensure the questions are short and not text-boxes (after all, remember they’re on mobile!) 🙂

Internet Librarian 2010: Foursquare, Location-Based Social Networks & Library Apps

October 25, 2010 | Comments Off on Internet Librarian 2010: Foursquare, Location-Based Social Networks & Library Apps

Internet Librarian 2010: Foursquare, Location-Based Social Networks & Library Apps

Joe Murphy

<I missed Jason A Clark’s part of the presentation unfortunately – sorry!>

Foursquare is baed on social rewards for sharing information – badges, interactions, comments, mayorships, etc.  We’ve already had our first check-in in space on Foursquare.  Joe pointed out how the Internet Librarian Conference listing in Foursquare is for an event, not just for a place/venue.  Joe recommends that libraries claim venues for their libraries, which gives you the opportunity to monitor statistics and create promotions.  The most important thing we can do is to just be aware of Foursquare — users will engage with this service whether we’re doing anything or not.  Joe touched on Facebook Places as well — Foursquare, as popular as it is, only has 3 million users.  Twitter has 145 million and Facebook has 500 million.  Facebook Places simply adds a social place-based interaction to your existing Facebook social network connections.  Facebook Places privacy options are critical – something that we should be teaching our customers about.  So many of us are haters of the “check your friends in” feature, which I now thing Facebook must realize is a mistake.  Joe says the future of location-based information is a combination of proximity relevance and social interactions. (Sarah’s note: This is reminiscent of basic augmented reality.)

Internet Librarian 2010: Designing a Mobile Experience

Dave McLaughlin – Harford County Public Library
You can program in the native code or you can use a javascript framework.  The latter gives you the window dressings of a native app.  JS Framework web apps and mobile webkit devices include iPS, Android, Palm webOS, and Blackberry OS devices. jQuery Mobile is free and open source, and available at  JQuery Mobile has broad compatibility, even with Nokia devices or the Opera Mobile browser.  JQTouch is another player to watch. JQTouch has one thing JQuery Mobile doesn’t–it more closely approximates the native app experience.  Each of these “pages” you can view within JQTouch is a <div> tag, letting you flip thru the carousels to the different pages.  When using JQTouch, you create a boilerplate for each page for a consistent layout and navigation, and then you insert your content into the body.  He also recommended the iPhone simulator tool as well.  HCPL Mobile, their app, with which you can look up items, log into your account, and more.  You can’t request an item or renew it, and they’re hoping that with their new ILS they can add this functionality.  HCPL Mobile is a “web app” (read: mobile webpage formatted for the user’s particular device to mimic an app experience).

Jason Michel & Kwabena Sekyere – Miami University Libraries
Their mobile site is located at  They wanted to be accessible to as many different mobile devices as possible, so they chose a mobile website instead of an app, using the Drupal mobile module functionality.  They have a catalog search, links to their database vendors who actually have mobile-friendly content, ways to contact the library, social media presences, etc.  They wanted catalog inter-functionality too, just like Harford, but their ILS vendor (Innovative Interfaces) doesn’t allow it.  (Sarah’s note: I always recommend doing a mobile site over a mobile app, but one huge benefit to our Boopsie-created mobile app @sanjoselibrary is that they offer full library user account functionality by screen scraping III’s Millennium patron interface).  Once you are able to set up your mobile profile for EBSCO you can send out a static link to get users access.  MU Libraries also offers IM, email, phone, and text-a-librarian which they offer through the Google Voice hack.  Sekyere demonstrated how the Google Voice hack actually works, which was helpful I think for people not familiar with the service.  More libraries are using this hack despite the fact that, strictly speaking, it might violate Google’s terms of service.  But hey…why not try?  MU Libraries directions interfaces with the iPhone’s mapping system.  They will continue to develop.

Yesterday I gave a webinar for Infopeople about mobile services for libraries.

You can view the archived webinar in full (audio, slides,  + chat) through the Infopeople site.

And the slides for that presentation are below.  Enjoy!

Hi y’all.  Yesterday I gave a webinar for the Florida Panhandle Library Access Network about online marketing for libraries.  The slides for that presentation are below.  Enjoy!

  • Free user-contributed repair manuals from iFixIt: Site is still building content but hey…it has the Roomba!
  • Great article for library webmasters from the adaptive path blog: “Six habits for visual designers new to UX design” –
  • ALA’s Statement about FCC modernizing ERATE to benefit libraries (from @ALA_TechSource). I’ll believe it when I see it.
  • 37 Productivity Tips for Working From Anywhere –
  • Blog Post: Practical Open Source Software for Libraries from @nengard:
  • Namechk – Instantly check your username’s availability on dozens of social sites. Grab your identity everywhere now.
  • “8 Villains of Social Media” from @sejournal. Good lessons on what to avoid when you’re posting yourself!
  • Warning signs of information overload
  • Kurzweil’s company’s eBook product, Blio, looks interesting.
  • Check out a FREE Project Gutenberg collection on North Carolina Digital Library website (from @DigiLibraryBlog)
  • Veezle stock photo meta search engine: a great review from Tasha Saecker:
  • The Future Of The Library Is Not The Apple Store (from @ALA_TechSource):
  • The Internet Archive has scanned its one millionth book! Congrats!
  • Open Office splits from Oracle, becomes LibreOffice. Same great software!
  • Review of The Social Network movie from @jeffjarvis: In short, if you know the real story it’s gonna annoy you.
  • From @wired: Scribd added Facebook “Instant Personalization” this week. It’s a privacy nightmare, says @pgcat
  • Why Technology Matters for Children, The Digital Divide ([email protected]):
  • Allen Ginsberg figurine & poetry CD (via @BoingBoing): As a San Francisco groupie & literati, this is a must-buy!
  • Ooooh shiny! Star Wars app pack coming to Verizon 10/4 ($2.99 for photos, live wallpapers, trivia, widgets):

eBooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point Online Conference
R. David Lankes Closing Keynote

Lankes wanted to start with a thought experiment.  What would happen if when we bought our next device, $10 was added to the cost and that went into a universal author’s fund and you could download any book any time?  Would this be a good thing for libraries?  Would it be a good thing for librarians?  Those are two different things.  For libraries, it would allow people to get access to information anywhere any time.  The value of libraries is the librarians, not the warehouse of stuff that we have. (Sarah’s comment: We know that, but the general user perception is that libraries are books, so if we no longer have books, won’t it will be hard to maintain community support and funding without a major overhaul of our public image?) We have seen a huge disaggregation of content.  Content is being ripped and remixed into different places — an explosion of data.  We see the disintegration of profiteering on content too.  One doesn’t, and hasn’t historically, made a lot of money off releasing a music album.  You make money off of touring and merchandising.  Same with books.  The real threat is that people have the perception of libraries as a mausoleum of stuff.  He also promoted the term “members” instead of users, customers, or patrons.  eBooks make Lankes cranky.  He only reads fiction in eBook format.  What makes him cranky is that the current implementation of hardware and software is so boring.  Book virtual interfaces made to look like wooden bookshelves are boring.  “Stop!” says Lankes.  He sees such potential in eBooks but we’re ignoring the possibilities of what could be.  eBooks aren’t solving the real problem:  access to information.  When we move books to a different format, there’s a problem.  Traditional terminology becomes a metaphor.  We append prefixes like “e” to traditional terms, but that doesn’t always translate conceptually.  If we look at reading the first thing we have to realize is that it should be a social and conversational experience.  Part of reading is processing language, turning words into concepts and images in your mind.  Some people believe reading to be quiet and contemplative, but Lankes challenges that assumption.  While reading is an isolating physically, mentally it is extraordinarily social — how we choose what to read, our pre-conceptions before reading it, how we feel about it and what we share about it afterward…  We can organize books and electronic content in all sorts of ways, allowing for hyperlinking and cross-referencing and community suggestions, not just “the librarian’s way.”  If we aggregate the unique individual connections, is there a commonality?  Yes.  We definitely don’t want the “every book’s an app” model that has started with the iPad.  We need to get back to the idea that book creation is part of a knowledge creation process.  The idea of authoring and reading is merging as tools make it obvious that there is an ongoing conversation.  Why annotate text only with other text?  He says that librarians are key to sense-making, production, distribution–all steps of knowledge creation.  Just as we are authors of our own mobile experiences through customization and apps, we should be authors of our own eBook experiences.  Multimedia, chat and other communication, and other functionality will benefit the creation and consumption experiences.  Libraries need to stop waiting for others to figure this eBook challenge out.  This is our problem and our opportunity.  We need to stop waiting for publishers to figure out the eBook model of the future – it’s like waiting for heroin addicts to develop the methadone of the future.  He asks the million dollar question: Why aren’t libraries building a unified eBook platform?  We need to stop buying from vendors and simply accepting what they give us.  We need to add our existing added value in our expertise, our passion for knowledge.  He encourages us to stand up for our users’ rights and innovate.  Librarians are not consumers or customers.  We are participators and so are those we seek to serve.  “Lead!” he says.

eBooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point Online Conference
Kevin Kelly (Wired CEO) Keynote

The web as we know it is only 7,000 days old.  Early prognosticators thought that the web would be TV, only better.  But what we have is a multi-device, multi-author, hugely connected infrastructure for communication.  There are 2 billion people linked up via the web.  With eBooks, we have the same problem — we’ve guessed that eBooks would be books only better.  But Kelly says that what’s coming is very different.  Our entire environment is saturated with screens–in airplanes, on the sides of buildings, mobile devices, computers, etc.  It’s important to recognize that the eBook is therefore part of that multi-screen environment.  We lean forward to use our small screens and lean back to use our big theater-style screens.  Where do eBooks fall into this?  2 billion YouTube clips are viewed daily.  This is a much larger audience than book readers.  As people we need to parse, index, browse, search, manipulate, annotate, re-sequence text…and have it be ubiquitous.  He sees the same thing happening with video and other images.  A move from orality to literacy happened with the printing press, and now we’re moving from literacy to what Kelly calls “vizuality.”  One media platform, blurred lines between media: TV, books, music, blogs, websites, magazines, radio, etc.  We don’t want to get stuck on screens being rigid — we’re already seeing flexible screens.  We can think about all of these devices that we have, which are windows into a single set of content in the cloud.  We and our devices are part of the cloud…it’s not a separate entity.  We create content for it and interact with it.  All types of things that people said they’d never share are being shared: shopping purchases, locations, health records, travel plans, personal genetics, eating patterns, and work histories.  As we move into the cloud, our content moves away from being a single file to being a stream which is tagged.  We are shifting from new page creation on the website (which has already peaked) to streams of content on Twitter, YouTube, and other sites.  If we think of books as a long-form stream, how does that change how we think about the future of the book?  People expect everything to be “always on,” everything to be available all the time.  iPads are one of the most popular media for kids because they don’t have to type.  Futuristic displays use gestures and interactions instead of keyboards and mice.  Kelly introduced the idea of a “watchful eBook” — one that tracks your eye movements and responds accordingly.  Lastly, he brought up the issue of the eBook “copy.”  The only value is that which cannot be copied.  If you want an old copy of National Geographic you can search for it and find a download for a slow download for free or a quick download for a fee.  If you want it personalized, that would carry a cost.  If you want to be sure that a piece of software, that requires a fee.  Or if something that was sent by a creator that you want to be a patron for, you pay them a fee.  Charge for different formats optimized for your accessibility needs.  But don’t charge for the thing itself.  Basically, he’s advocating for free eContent but charging for added-value services.