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Web 2.0: Making the Modern Library More Effective!

Web 2.0 is all around us. We are constantly integrating and merging media with our daily lives. Going into this post I wasn’t quite sure how to even define the term Web 2.0. I knew the term, heard it being thrown around but if you had asked me what it was or how libraries were using Web 2.0 I would have had no ideas.

Growing up, the small town I lived in only had the one library in our school. It was very out-dated with a crotchety old lady sitting behind the desk. I think we had some cassette tapes and a few computers in the back but that was the only technology you would find in there. It was only after moving away that I realized what an important role Web 2.0 has in libraries today.

It’s amazing how libraries have embraced technology and, because of that, have flourished and can reach a much larger audience. Tweeting, so mass amounts of people can see what is going on at your library. Podcasts talking to the great minds of this generation about learning, books, and life. YouTube pages giving people everything from stories read aloud to tutorials on how to find online resources. These are just a few of the incredible ways libraries are using Web 2.0 to keep their community informed.

As a future library technician, this is SO very exciting for me! I love technology and I am always excited for new and exciting ways I can communicate with people from my own circles and people from around the world. Whether it be through social media, now blogging, and who knows maybe even a podcast eventually.

What are your favourite ways your public library has integrated Web 2.0? Leave a reply in the comments down below!

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Collaboration in a Digital Age

Coordinating and collaborating will continuously be a struggle in our modern society simply for the fact that getting two or more people in a room together is practically impossible. However, through the internet certain tools are made available that can help facilitate community and collaboration projects. These collaboration tools make group projects and sharing ideas easy and intuitive while giving opportunities for creativity.

Prezi is one of these tools. Prezi is an interesting and non-traditional way to present ideas and create narratives. I have used Prezi for a long time as one of my junior high teachers was an early adopter and I can not endorse this tool enough. It is a cloud-based program so your work can be accessed from any computer. Another perk of using Prezi is if you share authority you can have multiple people adding ideas and creating a presentation together without ever having to be in the same room. One of the reasons this tool is so unique is that it allows you to jump from idea to idea in a non-linear way while still looking and feeling polished and professional.

Working in a library often involves both group work and presenting different ideas. Whether it’s for teaching a class or presenting to fellow librarians or boards it is important to express ideas in ways that will keep the audience engaged and excited. There may have to be times when coworkers are unavailable to get together in person and work on something, so finding a way to do it online that is easy and conducive to busy schedules can be hard. Collaborative tools like Prezi are excellent ways to constantly be improving the communication and work efficiency in libraries.

Social Bookmarking: the cataloguing of the future?

Social bookmarking is a website that allows you to save other websites for easy access. It also allows fellow users to see your bookmarked pages and rate those pages. These social bookmarking websites have been gaining popularity as the internet is changing and evolving. With so much content being produced it’s hard to stay current and find the latest information out there.

I use the social bookmarking site reddit, it is my home page for my internet browser. It keeps me up to date on news and entertainment, and shows me the latest weird trends on the internet. By following tags I most care about I can get aggregates of so many good sites that are relevant to me. Social bookmarking essentially personalizes your internet for you.

Of course, just like any other technology, libraries are also using social bookmarking and cataloguing sights to enhance the library experience. By creating social bookmarking websites libraries can set up a sort of catalogue of their books with ratings, reviews, and links to similar books all using the tagging system. This creates a level of community in your users that can extend beyond the people that are just coming through the doors of your library. While this provides services for patrons that are not being met by traditional methods of cataloguing there is some push back.  One problem that may occur by switching over to this method for librarians is that it can be difficult to find items that have not been tagged numerous times. The more it’s been tagged the easier it is, leaving items to fall by the wayside if they are not a popular item.

Overall, I believe that social cataloguing definitely has its place within the library. Through its interactivity it creates levels of access that everyday library users normally don’t have. Traditional cataloguing also has its place, but I think as libraries progress they are changing from just places of research into community hubs and the way we organize should also change.

 

Listening to Podcasts can Enhance Your Reading Experience!

Podcasting is my favourite form of media and entertainment. Podcasts keep me company on nights when I am home alone, keep folding laundry interesting, and provide interesting talking points for conversations with friends. However, the greatest perk of being an avid podcast listener is that usually it is free! Hours and hour of information and entertainment on almost any subject all available for the low cost of $0. I am subscribed to many different podcasts of all different genres. It’s no surprise then that, with this interesting and trending technology, libraries and librarians would also find ways to experiment on this platform.

There are many different styles and formats podcasters can use. The podcast Book Club for Masochists is a group of friends and librarians that discuss books and genres they normally would not read. It’s casual which makes you feel like you are just sitting in on a conversation that friends would have anyway and yet it is super informative. It is geared towards anyone that has a passion for reading and exploring literature they aren’t normally comfortable with. I think it can also be a great tool for me as a future librarian as it would give me knowledge about books that I wouldn’t normally be interested in reading on my own time. This would allow me to help the patrons of a library much better.

The Book Club for Masochists group is new to podcasting and therefore still working out some recording issues but overall it is well thought out and executed. It is engaging, informative, and fun, which is everything I look for in a podcast.

Inviting People In Using Instagram

When trying to reach the younger demographic it is important to be on social media websites that they are using. Instagram is one of these very important social media networks. Statistics show that 90% of Instagram’s users are under the age of 35. This platform is a perfect way to quickly share information using images to grab attention quickly. Like many other industries libraries are turning to Instagram as a way to engage their younger patrons.

Toronto Public Library (TPL) knows this and has taken steps to engage their audience over this platform. The library has over 11 thousand followers and posts regularly. Through Instagram they can advertise all the different programs they have going on, keeping people who wouldn’t normally come into the library or check their website in the loop. TPL also can draw people in by posting photos of the actual library branches, sharing the atmosphere of the place and inviting people into their spaces. They also achieve this by posting photos of staff. This way users don’t feel like the librarians are unapproachable.

I think that the TPL is doing a great job of using Instagram and it makes me want to check it out in person and not just in the digital world. One thing I would add to enhance their user experience is book recommendations and pictures of newly released books.

Why is Social Media important for the Modern Library?

One of the biggest ways that librarians can connect to the public and other libraries is through social media. There are many different types of social media that are popular with libraries and one of them is Pinterest. Pinterest is a social media site that, through images, gifs, and videos, allows you to browse the web at large. It connects you to other users with similar interests and opinions as you and allows you to discover adjacent information you never thought you would be interested in.  It can be used as a way to share resources with fellow librarians as well as growing your library’s user numbers through advertising.

New York Public Library (NYPL) is one of many libraries that has taken advantage of the opportunities Pinterest gives. Through this social media platform NYPL is able to connect to their patrons about what’s going on in their library as well as just things the staff is interested in. They have separate boards for everything ranging from advertising events to staff’s favourite books, and even photos of the weddings they have hosted.

Through Pinterest your library becomes another community member. It lets your patrons know that you care about what is going on in their lives and want to cater to them. It takes a cold quiet building and turns it into a welcoming safe space.

Incorporating Apps

Libraries, just like in many other areas, have worked hard to incorporate app technology into the modern library experience. All the way from Bookadvisor to Instagram Librarians are finding new and interesting ways in order to streamline and keep libraries up to date.

While perusing some lists of cool apps libraries are integrating Freda+ really stood out to me. It is an eBook reader that allows you to adjust colours, fonts, and has a text-to-speech feature. It can search free online catalogues and because of this can read texts in many different formats. This really impressed me because of all the ways this gives books and articles new accessibility. I have mild dyslexia and so sometimes it can be hard to focus on the black text on white paper, but if I have a pink background it can be easier for me to focus. Whether it is a mild struggle to read or an actual disability this app tries to be as inclusive as possible.  I also think this would be a good app to use in libraries because it lets you access your texts even if you no longer have internet access.

While I couldn’t find this specific app on any libraries websites I don’t think that means that libraries don’t use it. This app would be the most helpful in schools, both elementary and high school. Kids often struggle to read and focus, sometimes switching up the text can help with that.

While I think this app specifically is quite helpful there are many out there that can help you in your library, or even personal reading. I encourage you to try a bunch out and see what works for you!

Wiki, Wiki What?

First and foremost we have to look at what wikis are. I think that most people are aware of wikis without fully understanding them. Wikipedia is a household name and there have been so many scandals in the news surrounding Wikileaks that it is pretty hard to remain oblivious.  In the great words of Michael Scott,”Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone can write anything they want on any subject, so you know you are getting the best information possible.”(The Office, NBC) While i think Michael is a little optimistic about the knowledge of the public, I think when used correctly that is exactly wikis are the best things ever. Wikis are collaborative websites that can be edited, by multiple users, without having to know html or code of any kind. You can just edit and update, continuously adding and changing what you already have. By using hyperlinks you can link to different pages within the website, even pages that aren’t even created yet.

Now that we know a bit more about what wikis even are, let’s talk about how you can use them. Since wikis are collaborative in nature they work well as communal resources. Librarians from all over can discuss new methods of shelving, technology, marketing, and just general ideas of how libraries can function better to serve society. There are also wikis for library patrons as well. These wikis let them review books and services as well as give patrons a space to express what they like within libraries. Working in a library is a career of service and we can only help the community we are in if we are communicating well.

How I Feel About Twitter

So, we must begin with the fact that I have a love-hate relationship with twitter. It is one of the most obnoxious and narcissistic places on the internet. I am annoyed with the rants, negativity, hatefulness, and just general buffoonery that is seemingly endless. Yet twitter can also be both hilarious and informative. Twitter can be used in many ways but I personally use it to follow celebrities and organizations. I have many other forms of social media for staying in touch with family and friends so for the most part I feel it is unnecessary for me to follow them on twitter as well.

I like that I can see the quick humor of my favorite comedians whenever I am bored, this is especially helpful when waiting for the bus. Or that I can easily check if my favorite band’s accounts for tour dates. Twitter lets me stay connected with news and current events when I don’t always have time to read the morning newspaper or watch the news. Another way that twitter is surprisingly helpful is that companies with twitter accounts are far better at customer service over twitter than they are over their own websites.

If I way all the pros and cons I think I would have to say that while twitter can be obnoxious sometimes it does have its place. You just have to be careful who and what you follow that way your feed stays positive and relevant.

A Blog About Blogging

Blogs are everywhere, and that fact is only becoming truer. Everyone and their dog seems to have a blog these days. So why are they so prevalent in our society? Because they offer personalized information tailored to your interests. Niche groups of people looking for information on photography, or trying new recipes, all the way to trying out new dog toys can find it since there is someone out there writing about it on the internet.

Blogs, within the context of the library, are particularly helpful for building relationships with the consumer. The community can find out fun events going on at the local library or they can see new books that came in. Patrons are getting the information and resources without having to ever even leave their homes. This creates a level of comfort and accessibility libraries have never been able to offer before now.

Through looking up information for this post I found quite a few amazing blogs. Ones like Mira Costa High School Library Blog that shows students different resources for all their classes, has book draws, and lets students post some of their own writings and projects. It keeps students and parents informed about what is going on in their school and lets them be active participants in creating something together. Another fantastic library blog I found was the Priestly-Forsyth Memorial Library blog. This public library which posted about different books to use for your book clubs, and classes they offer for adults seeking computer help.

In short, I think that blogs and RSS feed should be prevalent within libraries. They deliver information quickly and succinctly but with personality. If you are having a guest speaker in your library or are just putting a list of new books out the easiest way to reach all your patrons is a blog. An RSS feed is useful so you can link to many different blogs and news sites, giving patrons the most up to date and personalized news. On RSS feeds, there is also an option to use search alerts and save them to your feed. When patrons are looking for books that will be released or authors they like, they can save the searches so information is updated as fast as possible.

Just like you can find a blog on anything, you can also write a blog about anything. When working within a library you can create a blog that is tailor-made to suit the needs of the community you are working in, and that is why blogs are so important.