Internet Librarian 2010: Internet Tools & Services to Enhance Learning & Inspire Participation
Chad polled the audience about “what libraries are” via text & Twitter live. “Centers for Learning” won with 96%. Chad looked at the time between major communication inventions. He asks: will Google soon know what you want before you even know what you want? With Web 2.0, you see things that are dying and not being used, but new things replacing them all the time. To create their Facebook page, Chad did so without administrative participation or approval. He recommends that you always respond to users, regardless of whether their comments are positive or negative. Vivox just moved into vroom, which allows you to have voice conferencing within Facebook. He recommends contacting Foursquare about offering a special offer for check-ins to the library (may take some time for Foursquare to respond). Like me, Chad didn’t like Twitter so much when it first came out. He says you should take the risk and show a live Twitter feed from your session during a class or session. Tristan Perich wrote a 5-movement symphony in assembly programming language, and the music is embedded into the microchips directly. They use Primo for their catalog and eContent which lets people offer book reviews. Why not use Twitter to solicit book reviews from your users? Put a recent Tweets widget onto your website. He uses Twitter for class conversations and sets up polls, as well as using direct messaging for reference service. You can use Social Oomph to automate and schedule his Tweets. Discovery – this is what all of this social media in the library is about. Chat took through all of the library’s CDs and loaded them into iTunes. Students can just walk up and listen to music on two different stations, and if they want they can check the CDs out and (err) rip the tracks themselves. You can take the XML file iTunes creates and add a pretty wrapper on top of it and put a collection list up online for your users. Their collection website offers 30 second samples of all of their songs. He also recommends Pandora for use in the library. Spotify isn’t in the US though, but he likes mSpot for his Android phone. He also recommends The 61 as a site to check for alternative music. He says don’t have “no cell phones” signs in your libraries. They offer a website widget that if you’re on the site more than 3 minutes, a little window pops up asking if they can assist people. Chad argues this is not intrusive – this tool (Instant Invite) pushes you to the user. They also use Yuuguu as a way to computer-share with their users, including being able to control the user’s computer to help them access information on the library’s site. We want our users spending more time reading and thinking – not jumping through hoops. What do all of these tools do? How do we measure success? Chat says that they offer improved access to information via sharing tools. Marketing services and resources provides more visibility. The tools are instant and inexpensive or free, and help the staff and users communicate. It provides interaction, and arguably enhances the learning experience. Chad wants to start an app band, joining people together through all of the different music creation apps on smart phones. He wants to use Voice Thread to allow voice and video commenting on blog posts…which is great!
Internet Librarian 2010: Failcamp
Amy Buckland, Jan Dawson, Krista Godfrey, and Char Booth
Jan Dawson had to stay at her library but offered up a video presentation for us. AskON CALL VOIP chat software for reference services. The software they used for the pilot project did not work, but they decided to forge on anyway. They tried Skype then, and set up best practices for the 18 week pilot project. The staff forgot to fill out the operator survey, and the users weren’t filling out the exit survey. So they had to look at actual transcript data directly instead. Some of the fails: the visitor didn’t want to use/install Skype, the user was somewhere that Skype was not allowed to be installed, or the user didn’t have headphones/speakers available, etc. 100% reported positive feedback, that Skype improved the interaction. Switching between live chat and Skype was too cumbersome in the end. Lessons learned: younger generation staff was less comfortable with the immediacy of voice, while the older generation staff were more comfortable (perhaps due to phone interaction familiarity). For the future they’d like to see voice-to-text translation services to provide valuable transcripts to the user after the session. They’d also like to provide recording and video capabilities.
Krista Godfrey talked about failure in Second Life reference services at McMaster University. They offered reference in Second Life for about a year, going up as high as six volunteers for staffing the service. They were offering about 10 hours a week and discovered they didn’t have enough time to do IM reference, email reference, & Second Life reference. They encountered a number of technical issues with SL — the learning curve when you first start using it is rather high. They couldn’t update SL themselves, so they had to have IT do that regularly for them (another point of failure). Some of their users though Second Life was “for girls” since it wasn’t a fighting game (apparently that’s for boys). There just wasn’t enough promotion, and not enough pick-up of the service by their students. The anonymity of SL was also an issue, as they couldn’t readily identify if the people they were helping were actually McMaster students. They didn’t have a lot of distance programs at the U, so there wasn’t demand coming to them from that potential user group. “Not everybody’s failures are going to be your failure.” There are universities with strong SL presences: University of Texas, San Jose State University’s SLIS program. But for McMaster, it was a failure. If you don’t have the people already there and don’t do user research beforehand, you’re not going to be able to serve your users as well as you could.
Char Booth talked about a massive fail project involving video chat from her days at Ohio University. A lot of the discussion about failure and why it happens is really the narrative that you, the speaker, spins about it inside your own head. The internal narrative about how you perceive your own efforts and your own failures is important. If you’re trying to build fail-safes into your perceptions of your own work, that can help your final outcome. Instead of thinking about who caused a failure, think about how you’re going to mitigate it. What is your contingency plan. The video project at Ohio University that Char was a part of did not do well. A kiosk would be set-up at entry points to the library showing video chat of a librarian elsewhere in the library, to extend the presence and availability of the librarian’s services. There was a lot of blow-back from staff about the scheduling and not liking their disconnected heads being displayed on screens in the library. The kiosks were not being used for reference, but instead for basic public relations. Students were taking the web cams and making out in front of them, but the library tried to take some of those fail moments and putting a positive spin on the oddness. Being able to speak to lessons learned from all the thousands of small failures is more important than the big fails. Admit that you are vulnerable in certain professional situations, and fake it til you make it baby! Come at projects with the attitude that you can make it, and if you don’t you can gracefully admit just that!
Internet Librarian 2010: Learning from Failure
One of the hardest things we have to do is admitting that we failed. She was charged to create a new digital branch website for their library, but she had to nix the project because it wasn’t the right choice for the library anymore. Admitting that something you put a lot of hard work into failed is horrible. The first part of the process is to give yourself some distance from the project before you’re able to look back and see what you learned from it. Plan for the fall-out too. Don’t beat yourself up, and instead give yourself a timeline to look back at what didn’t work but set a cut-off point after which you move forward. Then start all over again from scratch and look toward a successful future project. This can sometimes be hard if you just failed. But it’s all about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and trying again.
Anythink has gotten a lot of press recently about its un-Dewey-ing of their collection. The “cynics in the library field” have had a lot to say about their approach. “We generally change ourselves due to inspiration or desperation.” Anythink’s buildings were a cross between a post office and a prison, and the poorest library district in the State of Colorado. Their website was horrible too, and were getting local front page stories with headlines “Adams library system worst in state.” They went out for two bond measures and both failed. One of the library’s board of directors members said: “We didn’t know what we were doing, so we just held hands and jumped.” They hired Pam Smith as a director, who was not only a visionary but a disruptor. She knew that to have a vibrant library system, they needed to have employees that were happy to be there. The old way hasn’t worked, so how are we going to establish the personality of the 21st Century Library? What are you hearing from your customers? They came up with new titles and new job descriptions. They came up with a new mission statement: “We open doors for curious minds.” And they created a staff manifesto for all Anythink employees, that starts with “You are not just an employee, volunteer, or board member.” The other big risk was just changing their brand to Anythink, including their doodle logo (a doodle is the beginning of an idea). They started with one of their smaller libraries first as a test site. They got a new building that did not look like a prison or a post office! Then they got to re-classifying the collection at that location by topic, not Dewey. They built 4 new buildings in a year (boo-yah!). They also went fine-free which takes staff out of the role of being policemen. They have lost a lot of materials this way, though. That may end up being a failure. Anythink shoots for 80%. They also questioned library programming, including the traditional summer reading program. They had a plan for summer reading plans and booklists. No sign-ups, no prizes, but you did get badges you could get if you came to some of the programs during the summer that tied into various subject areas. But they did find that people were interested in sign-ups still, so this is an area for change in the future. They haven’t gotten to the website yet – The site is missing a lot of information, they haven’t upgraded their ILS yet and the catalog is almost unusable! The website doesn’t mirror the staff and patron participation that you see in their physical buildings. They operate very lean. They have about half the budget of comparable library systems.
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
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 bit.ly 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
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
<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
Jason Michel & Kwabena Sekyere – Miami University Libraries
Their mobile site is located at http://lib.muohio.edu/m. 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.