23:3 (2008:09) 23rd Conference (2008): Preconference: Emerging Trends, 2.0, and Libraries

August 19, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Conference Reports, Preconferences | Leave a comment

PRECONFERENCES

Emerging Trends, 2.0, and Libraries
David Lee King, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
Reported by Betty Landesman

David Lee King began by comparing what it was like playing computer games in a text-based environment to the current interactive capabilities of Wii.  He cited Wikipedia’s definition of Web 2.0 as the second generation of Internet-based services that allow people to collaborate and share information online in ways that were previously impossible.  It is all about communication, conversation, participation – in short, community.

King then described eight tools, which he called the “glue of Web 2.0”:  RSS, RSS readers, tagging, commenting, user-supplied content, web as platform, mashups, and friending.

RSS allows the user to subscribe to other websites that have RSS feeds, a.k.a. syndication, as well as to create content in one place but display it in another place.  The content can be any type: text, photos, audio, video, etc.  Examples of library uses of RSS are subject guides from the Kansas City Public Library and new book alerts from the Seattle Public Library.  RSS feed readers, such as Bloglines and Google Reader, are ways to read RSS.

Tagging, or folksonomies, is a way of categorizing the web by choosing personal keywords which are browseable and searchable.  Writing comments allows users to interact with the author instead of reading an email sent to one person.  King gave an example of the director of the Ann Arbor District Library posting a notice concerning their RFP for space planning, which received 29 comments.

Examples of user-supplied content are Flickr, YouTube, and Wikipedia.  As King put it, “Most Web 2.0 sites feature ‘my stuff.’”

Web as platform uses web-based software that allows people to interact rather than the previous one-directional “here is the information about my organization.”  Instead of starting with the desktop, users go to a web service and begin using it.  Examples of web services are: Google Docs; Box.net, a storage solution; and Pixenate, a photo editing service.

A mashup combines content from more than one source into a single integrated service.  Library examples include: Google Maps and bookmobile stops, as well as incorporating Google Books into the library catalog.

Finally, friending involves linking to friends or contacts to share content.  Examples of friending include: Facebook, MySpace, and Flickr.

King then proceeded to discuss some of the specific tools used in Web 2.0 and illustrated how they are being used in libraries.

Blogs can be used to communicate with library patrons, indicate what is new at the library, provide subject guides, current awareness, and be the basis of an internal staff newsletter, etc.  The Atchison Public Library’s website is now completely blog-based.

Social networking sites allow users to share content and to share themselves.  LibraryThing allows users to read a book, rate it, connect to other people who have read it, and see what else they have read.  Libraries can use social networking sites to reach patrons in their space.  They can use contact lists to push events and news and provide direct links to library material.

Bookmark managers, or social bookmarking, allow users to subscribe to someone else’s feed to see what the other person is viewing.  They can add tags, descriptions, comments, ratings, etc.  King presented one example of several libraries’ use of del.icio.us.

Wikis are web sites that allow anyone to add and edit content.  Library examples included Saint Joseph County Public Library’s use of wikis for its subject guides, and the Ohio University Libraries’ Biz Wiki.  Wikis can be used as library staff intranet, for project management or posting committee minutes, and to allow patrons to interact with library staff.

Instant messaging provides real time communication capabilities between library staff and patrons.  King described a Meebo widget page for a library OPAC – if the user’s search retrieved no hits, a window pops up saying “Can we help?”

Podcasting is a web feed of audio to which users can subscribe. To listen, the user needs an MP3 player; RSS feed, and feed reader.  Library uses include library news, book talks, oral histories, lectures, local music, author readings, and instruction/guided tours.  Again, the purpose is to reach the patrons wherever they are at that particular moment.  Videocasting is similar but with video instead of audio.

Finally, King illustrated with examples how libraries are using Web 2.0 tools to extend the catalog, such as allowing user-provided tags and relevance linking, “users who checked out this item also checked out …” He concluded with many excellent reasons for all of us to make time for Web 2.0 in our libraries.

The PowerPoint slides of King’s presentation can be found on his blog at http://davidleeking.com/pdf/nasig08.pdf.

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