presentations Web 2.0

Becoming 2.0

Bobbi and I finished up our 4-day workshop on all things Web 2.0 on Friday. I was surprised at how tired I got after each day of teaching, but it was also strangely invigorating, too. The students in the class were really engaged and willing to learn, although there was a lot of complaints about too-full-heads, I think they got some good information out of it and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do when they get back to their home libraries and get some time to put this stuff into practice!

Becoming 2.0 class hard at work
Becoming 2.0 class hard at work

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!

Web 2.0

A Video Chat

My first Skype video chat!! Thanks to Bobbi’s grant writing skills, we have fabulous new training laptops for our use. I was playing with one of them this week, trying to see if we could use it to send out with staff members going to various festivals around town so that they could sign folks up for library cards remotely (they can – I’ve got it set up now!) when I heard the call from Andrew Morton, of the University of Richmond, for a volunteer to do some video conferencing. I immediately thought of the new laptops – all decked out with an integrated webcam – and my Skype account and told him I would be available. He was leading a session on their new Library Learning 2.0 program and wanted someone to come and chat about the glories of Web 2.0 *stuff*. I got everything set up on my end, tested it with him, and at 12:40pm CST we started my very first Skype video chat. Andrew asked me to talk a little about our LL2.0 program, and I did, then he opened it up for questions. I got a question about how the staff has used the lessons learned in their work since the end of the program – and I told them all about our “2.0ified” homepage – the Flickr, Twitter and Blog feeds that make up the majority of our homepage are not all created/written/uploaded by Bobbi (though she coordinates it and does an awful lot herself)! The staff that went through the program and got comfortable with the tools are helping by writing blog posts, taking and occasionally uploading pictures and sending out the occasional tweet announcement as well. I got another question about the incentives we used, too. They are still in the process of deciding on incentives and were very interested to hear what we had used at MRRL!
It was great fun, and I hope I was of some help to the folks deciding whether or not to embark upon the LL2.0 journey at the University of Richmond – and I got to try out a bit of video conferencing to boot!

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