Personal socialseries Web 2.0

The demise of FriendFeed?

I tend to use FriendFeed very heavily – I pull my Facebook, Twitter and blog posts in there and I do a lot of “native commenting” as well – comments that originate in the FriendFeed (FF) interface and aren’t just pulled from somewhere else. I also tend to keep FF open most of the day so that I can at least passively watch the conversation. One thing that I’ve noticed about FF that doesn’t seem to be *as true* as with other sites – Facebook included – is that it is very, very social. There are lots of rooms dedicated to social TV watching (the Hoarders room on Monday nights is a blast – makes the show just that much better…), social bitching and social bonding in general.
With all that going on, though, there are a lot of “FF is dying” posts going around on a pretty regular basis. Search in FF is spotty – sometimes it works, sometimes (most of the time?) it doesn’t and there are other glitches that seem to bother people on a regular basis. For the most part, they don’t bother me much (unless the site goes down completely for an extended – longer than 15 minutes, maybe? – period of time – then I get jittery). FF has done something that I don’t think any of the other sites have – it’s transcended it’s technology to bring together a group of folks who, if FF were to go away permanently, would find each other on the next big social network and reconnect very quickly.
The community on FF is stronger than the tech, which is why I don’t really concern myself with whether or not it is going away – as long as the next service that comes up includes ways to divide off into groups, or rooms, and a way to find the folks I’m specifically looking for, it will be all good.

socialseries Web 2.0

8. Blogs

Hmmm, you are reading this, so do I really have to go into what Blogs are? Well, here’s a textbook definition:

Weblog (blog) – a web page that consists of separate, diary-like entries that are arranged in a reverse chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top.

That’s it. That’s a blog. Of course, we expect certain other things from blogs these days, don’t we? At the least, they should provide an RSS feed so that we can subscribe to their content and read it through our feed readers. Oh, and most of ’em have archives and other ways to access past content as well as some sort of method for commenting on individual entries. Good ones are updated regularly with information that is timely, relevant to the audience and well-written.
Now that we’ve established what a blog is, let’s talk about what it can do for your library and your patrons. First off, it can be an amazingly efficient vehicle for communication for your library. And not one-way communication, either! Blogs generally allow readers to post comments – giving the reader some voice in the communication so that it becomes conversational as opposed to one-way announcements. For libraries that allow their patrons to post comments in an unmoderated (radical trust right there!) way, they give their patrons the feeling of openness and concern for what the patrons want and need – they tell ’em that the library is listening. Of course, if you don’t want to destroy that impression, you’ll need to post fairly regularly.
This brings us to the topic of time investment. All that writing, editing, finding the perfect picture and just plain old thinking up topics takes time. You can have one person responsible for it all, with a significant investment in time for that person, or you can split the work up and have multiple authors doing the work. Whichever way you decide to do it, there needs to be at least one person who is responsible for making sure that content reaches the blog on a regular basis. For some blogs, that will be daily – for others it may be weekly or even monthly, depending on the topic and the frequency of news about that topic. Irregular posting can cause some folks to assume the blog has died during your quiet times and unsubscribe to it – this means that they’ll miss the next big news or interesting take on a subject that is posted! At the last Internet Librarian conference, the folks behind the Hennepin County Library’s Bookspace site said that contributing to the Bookspace’s blogs was a job duty for several people – no contributions means that they aren’t doing their jobs and it will reflect on their job evaluations. That makes for some serious staff buy-in there!
Why go to all the trouble to create a blog for your library? As I said before, it opens a 2-way communication channel that is invaluable for getting patron responses to your programs, events, library news or whatever you choose to blog about. It’s also a great way to put information up onto your website that is completely reusable – and not just by you. We take our blog feed and post it on the home page of our site, just with a bit of teaser content, so that everyone who comes by our home page will see what the last 5 blog posts are. We also have a WordPress plugin that takes the blog posts and reposts them to the library’s MySpace page blog. This means that every time we post to our blog it is republished automatically to our home page and to our MySpace blog (as well as our Facebook news feed and our Twitter feed, but you get the picture…). We aren’t the only ones who could use this information, however. Since we publish our RSS feed, others can take that feed, run it through something like the new Google Feed Control Wizard and provide our blog posts as part of their website. Since we are a public library, this would be an excellent addition to a Chamber of Commerce tourism site (we have LOTS of programs going on all the time) or to a city-wide information network or to any site that wants to give their users a complete picture of what’s going on in our area. Just a bit of copy-n-paste from Google and you have an automatically updated source of information on your public library.
Blogs are even helpful if you don’t feel up to publishing one externally. An internal blog can disseminate information, provide staff with another communication tool and help teach your staff about tools that your patrons are using (feed readers, web pages, web forms, etc.). While using a free blogging service such as Blogger,, Vox or any of the thousands of others out there might be a bit more difficult for an internal-only blog, setting up a WordPress installation shouldn’t be too difficult for an IT department to handle. If it is, or if your IT department is reluctant to install it, give one of the blogging services that offer passwords a try. Blogger and do offer password protected blogs – but that’s just another password that your staff has to remember…
I could probably talkwrite for hours about how great blogs are and all of the fun things you can do with them to improve your patron/library relations, your staff/staff communications and your community/library information needs, but I’ve gotta quit sometime and this seems like a good stopping point. Anyone else want to write a book about what I’ve forgotten? OH! They have! Check out Jason Griffey and Karen Coombs new (and I do mean new – it’s not yet actually available) book about Library Blogging. Knowing those two, it’s bound to be incredibly useful and chock-full of great ideas/tips/tricks/things to remember about blogging at your library!

socialseries Web 2.0

6. SlideShare

I like SlideShare. I’ll admit to that little bias right off the bat. SlideShare doesn’t provide tools to create slide decks or to edit them, but it does provide tools that make a vibrant and interesting community space out of presentations! The real purpose behind SlideShare is to share information – what’s more Web 2.0 than that? By uploading a slide deck to SlideShare, you can control who sees it via privacy options, what they can do with it via embedded Creative Commons licensing and where on the Internet it goes via an easy bit of copy’n’paste embed code.
Once you’ve created your slide deck in either PowerPoint, OpenOffice or Keynote (or any presentation software that outputs in those file formats or PDF), you can upload it to your Slidespace. There is a 50MB limit to the size of the presentation, but I’ve found that just about any presentation will work with a bit of tweaking (I’ve seen presentations on there that run more than 225 slides long, with some graphics thrown in, so 50MB is pretty generous) or with an export to compressed PDF, if necessary.
Once your slide deck has been uploaded, you can link to it, embed it just about anywhere, and get great statistics on it. You can share it with your contacts that you have in the SlideShare community or you can share it with the whole world using the site’s privacy options. You can even create an audio track to go with your slide deck and synchronize it to your slides for a narrated presentation or a slide show with musical accompaniment. To create the slidecast that I’ve linked to above, I downloaded the free Audacity audio recorder and used it to speak while I was viewing my slideshow on my home computer. After I was finished (which took about 10 tries… I hate the sound of myself speaking!), I uploaded the MP3 file that Audacity created to my personal web space and “linked” the two in SlideShare (by entering the URI of my MP3 file and letting SlideShare get it from my web server – there is no uploading of audio files to the SlideShare service. Not sure why…) and then proceeded to use a very simple, drag-and-drop interface to sync up the voice and visual parts of my presentation.
Why would a library want to use SlideShare? Individual librarians are already using it to post presentation slide decks made for various conferences all around the world. If you can’t make it to a conference, chances are you can find at least some of the slides used during sessions uploaded to SlideShare. You can also share your presentations with patrons who might not have been able to make it to a computer class, author event or other program that used a presentation slide deck. Others use it as a sort of self-guided learning tool. If you have a topic you would like to find more about, do a quick search for it on SlideShare. You will certainly find at least one presentation on that topic that you can view and get information from. Still others use it as a basis for inspiration (or theft) for their own presentations. Be sure to check the Creative Commons licensing, though, before you steal slides or slide shows from other users – some are perfectly willing to let you do it, as long as you credit them, others have reserved all rights and would frown on you grabbing a couple of their slides to use in your presentation! (Just FYI – all my slides are always CC licensed to allow anyone to use them with just a quick credit to me somewhere in the presentation)
Like most of the Web 2.0 tools I gush on about, this one has a pretty solid sense of community. You can create a profile for yourself, “friend” others so that you can see what they have been uploading, favoriting and commenting upon and you can join groups that give you a way to get your slides seen as a part of a larger body of work on a particular subject. Again, as with most Web 2.0 tools, tagging is a big part of making your presentations findable and usable! When you start uploading your slide decks and slidecasts, be sure to tag them liberally!
Again, the statistics that SlideShare offers is a big draw to the service. Not only can you keep excellent records of how many people are viewing your library’s presentations (and whether they are viewing them at or as an embed in your site – or even which embed is getting all the views!), you can also see what is popular – what slide decks people are marking as their “favorites” (marking a presentation as a favorite is a great way to bookmark slide decks for later viewing, too), what presentations people are downloading, embedding into their sites and commenting upon. All these stats are available to you for free!!
If you create any sort of presentation for your library – consider uploading it to SlideShare. Let other librarians, your patrons and the whole world know about the cool things you are doing. Even if you don’t create your own presentations – take a look at other folks’ stuff. Learn what is going on and what neat things people are doing at their institutions!


5. YouTube

YouTube, as you may know, is a video sharing site that makes the sharing and social aspects of video really easy. Youtube gives it’s users the ability to upload video that can be commented upon, shared easily (via an embed code included with each video) and saved (via favorites) to be viewed again. All of this makes video a much more easily used medium for libraries to explore!
The Missouri River Regional Library has a YouTube account, but we haven’t been using it much – mostly due to a lack of recording equipment. Now that most digital cameras can take decent movies (and anything better than “decent” gets lost in YouTube’s compression anyway, it seems) we may start using it for more projects in the future. I did upload a short “safety” video, produced by the very talented, and just a wee bit odd, members of our children’s department a while back. More recently, Bobbi has used it to store the short videos made by our Automation Librarian to explain the use of our self-check machine (the hand model in those videos is our Circulation supervisor).
Other libraries, however, have made excellent use of YouTube. Denver Public Library used it to promote their summer reading program last year. The Metropolitan Library System (Oklahoma City) posted the first prize winner of their recent film content using YouTube as well. Other libraries have done other contests as well, using the teenager’s love of content creation to engage them in library activities via YouTube.
Other libraries post interesting little videos promoting everything from children’s activities to reference services – or just to have fun!
With the reduction in price for digital video cameras along with a serious increase in quality for even fairly cheap cameras, creating library videos is pretty cheap! David Lee King, a Library Journal “mover and shaker” is doing some really cool things with video in libraries – if you are looking for ideas to promote your services, engage your patrons and show the fun side of your library, his blog is an excellent place to start!

socialseries Web 2.0

4. Flickr

Flickr is a social photo sharing site and it has lots of uses for libraries and librarians. With Flickr, you can upload, do basic editing and share pictures in a multitude of ways. Flickr has several different uploading options, one of them a bit of software that you can install on your computer to make uploading pictures really easy. It also has a “basic uploader” that works on the Flickr webpage and requires no downloading or installation of programs. Once you’ve uploaded your images to Flickr, then you can do some basic editing (red-eye removal, cropping and some image manipulation with the included PicNik features), organize them into sets and/or collections (collections are pro – $$ – accounts only) and tag them until they make sense to you and will be easily re-findable. After you’ve done all that, you can then share them. Flickr has built-in “add to your blog” capabilities as well as a way to get a bit of HTML to add to a web page. It has badges and slideshows and unique URLs for each size of each picture you upload as well as for each set, collection and tag you use to organize your pictures. It was built to make sharing your images as easy as possible.
With all of that in mind, how can libraries use this tool? First, the pro account is $25 a year and gives you unlimited uploads and storage. Get it. Second, it’s a really great way to share pictures of your programs, events, book displays, staff members, parties and your building(s) in general. Once you upload those images, remember, they are really easy to then add to your website. One thing that people love is images of themselves. If you post some pictures of a recent event and some of the people pictured attending that event start emailing out links to your website, you’ve just created free, word-of-mouth, viral marketing. Also, those pictures are there for your publicity folks to use in future mailings, fliers and web announcements.
Other ways to use Flickr are:

  • use your pictures to create inexpensive marketing materials (business cards, calendars, books, etc.)
  • Use some of the thousands of 3rd party applications to make fun stuff to post to your blog, website or to a community website (custom movie posters, jigsaw puzzles or trading cards).
  • Find other people’s photos to use in your marketing or creative materials (but don’t forget to respect the creative commons copyrights on each photo in Flickr).
  • Create a badge that is limited to a single tag and put that badge on your internal, more specifically focused web pages.

Flickr, more than many Web 2.0 applications, offers a ton of really fun things to do with your images (and those of others, too)! I’ve just scratched the surface of “things to do with Flickr” – do you all have any creative uses for Flickr at your library?

socialseries Web 2.0

3. Facebook/MySpace

Facebook seems like an odd application for library use. It’s totally a social “utility” – as they say on the log-in page – and doesn’t seem to have many obvious library uses, beyond advertising programs and such. MySpace is much the same – it is intended for individuals (and bands – it started as a home page for bands to upload and share their music) and there aren’t many compelling reasons for libraries to “be” there… Unless you consider that part of the “philosophy” of Web/Library 2.0 is to be where your users are – whether that is in your library or in their browser (or cell phone text messaging application…).
Facebook has made it easier for organizations to use the service recently. People get profiles, just like in all the other social networking sites, but organizations get “pages”. From those pages, libraries can post information about their services, events and just about anything else that they want to advertise. Facebook also provides an application platform that allows 3rd party developers to create their own facebook applications. Because of this, Facebook has a lot of cool stuff to do while you are logged on. Many libraries have jumped on this application platform and created ways for their “fans” (people who friend the organization) to add a catalog search onto their own profiles. I modified a previously created catalog search for use at MRRL, and posted the code, with instructions, on the application’s page for other libraries to use.
Besides another platform for application programming, there are lots of other uses for it in libraries, too. Obviously, it is another way for patrons to contact us – opening a new line of communication, as it were. It’s a way to get your name out there – one public library in Edmonton, Canada, is doing tests on the effectiveness of highly targeted ads – and they are pretty pleased with the cost of getting in front of all of those eyeballs! It can also be used as a replacement for expensive “special use” software. One gentleman who attended the UKSG conference last month mentioned that his academic library is using Facebook in place of the very expensive VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) that they purchased and subsequently grew to hate.
MySpace has many of the same features and abilities – although it is sometimes difficult to stray away from the social aspects (friending, commenting, etc.), it can be done. One of the coolest interactions I’ve experienced was when I made our local radio stations friends of my library. One of the DJs for one of the stations left a comment on our page that basically asked if we had any poetry by Charles Bukowski. I left a comment on his radio’s MySpace page with a link to the catalog page that listed all the works we had by that author. He responded on the library’s page with a note saying thanks, but he owned everything we did. I finished the reference interview via MySpace with a final comment on his page asking him if he was familiar with Interlibrary Loan. That sort of interaction with the public – a real, not forced, natural conversation that was held on both of our MySpace pages – is the best way to get folks who may not be aware of your collection, programs or services to take a look at their public library.
Besides reference interviews via comments, you can republish all of your library’s content onto your MySpace page as well, making it much more likely that patrons (and soon-to-be patrons) find your “stuff”. I was recently asked by our Digital Librarian, Bobbi Newman to add the MySpace Crossposter plugin to our WordPress blog installation to allow automatic posting of all blog posts to our MySpace blog as well – no more duplication of effort!

socialseries Web 2.0

2. is social bookmarking done right. I remember when online bookmark services first started appearing, solving the problem of people bookmarking a site on their home computer that they may need the next day on their work computer. I tried them out and found some of them to be fairly useful – then came Not only does allow you to save URLs for later use, it also allows you to find URLs that others have found useful, suggest URLs for others and pick up feeds of either specific people, specific topics or general “top picks”. This is what makes it social.
The San Mateo Library’s account is a perfect example of an organization using the tools to create a very useful resource. They organize their saved URLs into the Dewey Decimal System (most of them, at least) with a few un-Dewey’d links tagged as “ready reference” or “book” or other not-quite-easily-stuffed-into-Dewey labels. That is one way to use the structure that provides.
Another way is to create useful links for patrons, like we have at MRRL’s account and make them available on our site as “reference links”. All of our links are ready reference-type links! I used a javascript library called “Dishy” to make pulling our links from easy on our Reference Links page. Because of the API (Application Programming Interface) that (and many other Web 2.0 tools) provides, creating new uses for your data becomes fairly easy. Dishy proved to be pretty much cut-and-paste functionality, allowing me to concentrate on the looks of the page, rather than the way it works – but if you really want to spend some time getting into the API, you can roll your own program that does exactly what you want. There are other ways to access your data through, though, including RSS, JSON and plain old HTML.
Once you put your data into (easy enough with the browser buttons they offer for both IE and Firefox), the options you have to reuse it are pretty much limitless!
I’ve covered the what people do with and pointed you to some resources for how, so now we’ll get a little deeper into “why”. Like most Web 2.0 tools, gives you the opportunity to save your data and then reuse it multiple ways. The API I mentioned above gives you control over your data – you put it in once and then use it in multiple ways (reference links, RSS feed of the latest “finds” from your library, in a Google Maps mashup with geographically important links, etc., etc., etc.) in multiple formats. It’s not only a great way to keep yourself organized at multiple computers, it’s also a great way to share the collective wisdom of your library and librarians with your patrons – it’s one more service you can offer your patrons to improve the quality of information they find on the Internet.

socialseries Web 2.0

1. Twitter

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows I’m a total Twitter fangirl. I use it, and love it, daily. I evangelize about it! But, when I tell people how wonderful it is to have the collective mind floating through my Firefox sidebar each day, do I really do the possible useful applications of Twitter for libraries justice? Probably not, so here goes!
First, there are a lot of great posts out there about how to use Twitter in libraries. The last one (linked to the word “libraries”) even has a great explanation of what Twitter is. This is a great starting point to learn how other people use Twitter.
One great use of Twitter by a library is at LPI Library. They use it both for announcements of new books and programs, but also to contribute to the conversations that go on among the librarians using Twitter. The library ( for The Lunar and Planetary Institute) provides a lot of great information on topics within it’s specialty – it’s a handy Twitterer to follow whether you are interested in library topics or astronomical topics.
The way we (as in MRRL) use Twitter is as an announcement broadcaster that has the ability to broadcast our news to people’s cell phones, IM clients, web browsers and email clients – whichever they prefer. The way I (as in Webgoddess) use Twitter is as a water-cooler. I spend more time responding to other people in a conversational way as I do announcing what it is I’m doing. I spend as much time asking questions of the “hive mind” as I do announcing what it is I’m doing. Yes, I use it to keep my co-workers and friends apprised of what it is I’m doing with my day, but I like the social, not-quite-gossipy, but definitely chatty aspect of Twitter just as much as I do the work-related announcements of what I’m up to.
One very recent use of twitter (I blogged about it the other day) is to provide reference services via the Twitter architecture. The original idea is as a decentralized, 24/7 reference service, but it could be personalized for use in a busy library with a heavy population of cell phone users as well. Perhaps not as 24/7 service, but definitely during busy reference hours. The ability to text in reference questions is something that some libraries (Yale, for example) is doing already. Twitter would let smaller libraries offer this service without investing in the underlying architecture to handle the text messages – Twitter does that for them.
These are some of the uses that I find Twitter ideally suited for. What does your library do with Twitter? Is anyone using RSS from the catalog to populate a Twitter feed? How do you use Twitter?

Relation Browser
0 Recommended Articles:
0 Recommended Articles: