fieldrecorders

LIBR 246

Exercise 2

1.  In the Library with the Lead Pipe makes clear its intended audience is library workers.  The posts are long and content heavy, and are not meant to be scanned by someone with a casual interest in libraries. The team of contributing authors includes many library directors and library staff with deep academic backgrounds.  Lots of words, very few pictures.

The Librarian’s Commute reads much more like one library worker’s personal blog (which it is).  Olivia Nellums is the only contributor, as far as I can tell, and the blog feels like her take on the library world.  Many of the posts are personal musing on library issues while some read like more formal posts written for an MLIS program.  Don’t get me wrong, neither description is meant as a critique.  Olivia Nellums posts are well written, and she manages to effortlessly combine her own personal narrative with real library topics that are of concern for library staff like myself.

Visually, the Distant Librarian blog looks artfully techy, and a quick scan of the blog topic titles let you know the content matches the aesthetics.  Paul Pival, the blogs author, focuses on technology (but is not limited to) and how it is affecting libraries.  His posts tend to be shorter than In the Library with the Lead Pipes, quickly getting to the point, with a more prevalent use of graphics.  There’s not much personal narrative going on here.

Librarian by Day’s takes a remarkably comprehensive approach to a library blog.  Bobbi Newman writes about everything, and I mean everything.  Much less focused that the Distant Librarian, Newman’s blog is similar to The Librarian’s Communute in that it combines the personal narrative with the structured analysis of library issues ranging from technology to literacy.  Newman isn’t afraid to impart her own humor on a subject too.  Newman also links to many other blogs via her own content. It’s an amazing effort by just one person.

Like The Distant Librarian, David Lee King’s blog focuses on technology.  King is definitely a visual person and likes to make himself present on his blog.  This makes it personal, but also less professional (not meant as a critique) than the other four blogs.  His posts are generally short and make use of media including music and videos (usually made by King himself and his fellow library staff).

2.  I feel a bit temperamental trying to decide what type of blog post appeals to me.  It depends on what I’m looking for at a given moment.  If I feel like being moved, so-to-speak, I lean towards the more personal narrative.  If I’m looking for some content, blogs like In the Library with the Lead Pipe appeal to me.  Oftentimes I’m bouncing around blogs to scan and be entertained, and blogs that use more multi-media appeal to me.  Regardless, I want to feel like the blog author (s) actually care about what they are doing and are just blogging for the sake of blogging (which I have been guilty of myself).

3.  I subscribed to the King County’s library blog, which is primarily a reader’s blog that’s similar to the old book talk reviews many public libraries published in their weekly local newspapers.  King County has done an incredible job organizing the reader book reviews by categories, all with their own RSS feed link.

I also subscribed to the Library of Congress blog, because who can resist the Library of Congress?  It’s a hard blog to describe in two or three sentences, because it, like the Library of Congress, covers many subject from history, art, culture, music, etc.  I got instantly pulled in to a post they had about the Library of Congress’s three original Stardivari violins and how they were being CT scanned in an effort to duplicate what made these instruments so un-reproducible.  Fascinating stuff.

I have to admit I picked New York Public Library’s blog because I new it would be regularly updated.  From my cursory exposure to the blog, it feels like a very traditional library blog that focuses on book talks and library programs.

4.  Library blogs are a much more specific genre than the five library related blogs provided for this exercise.  A library blog needs to convey the unique personality and contribution of the library it represents, without relying on personal narrative or specific areas of focus like technology or library trends.  It’s a tough go making a library blog worth visiting with fresh content and relevancy (we don’t all have the inherent uniqueness of The Library of Congress’s content).

Advertisements

blogpostwk3 -Twitter and Libraries (Libitters? Twibaries?)

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I really wrestle with the legitimacy of Twitter as a resource that provides any real content.  It feels like a text-messaged blog (which it is, of course) that deserves the oft-joked idea that people just use it to tweet their inane goings-on all throughout the day. But over the last year, it seems like every library conference I’ve attended, or online technology webinar I view while working at the library seems to mention the way libraries are using Twitter to connect to their patrons.  Last semester I was finally forced to sign up for a Twitter account for a class, and well, I still didn’t find it very useful.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Luddite, I love technology.  I just feel like Twitter is defined by its limitations (cue arguments from the billions of avid users).  Having said that, I read this weeks readings with an open mind, and have to admit I was intrigued with the way libraries were using Twitter.

It was interesting to read the Twittering Library Wiki and the fifteen some odd prominent library uses for Twitter.  “Twitter is becoming very popular with libraries as they seek to connect with and expand their customer base,” the Wiki quotes from a School Library Journal article, while providing a pro list that outweighs the cons.  I definitely can understand the possibilities of using it for advertising library programs and events, especially when email already feels like snail mail, but it’s hard to feel like it how well it would translate.  Hmmm…  Twitter users are certainly a diverse group, so maybe it would work?  With the way Twitter creates a social chain reaction, it would be a way to have one person tell the next, and the next.

Twitter as a reference tool?  I’ve seen this mentioned a lot.  I really was skeptical about this when I first heard of it, and I’ve yet to meet any reference librarians using it, but what the heck?  Reference librarians definitely need to do something to reach out to patrons, because they’re increasingly feeling like a dying resource replaced by Google.  Perhaps Twitter is a way to create a reference interview that’s more comfortable for users used to the relative anonymity of social networking.  The old stereotype of the stuffy intimidating reference librarian seems to live on, despite the fact that most reference librarians, in my experience, are some of the most approachable people eager to lend a hand (considering I do some time on the reference desk myself, I may be biased).

I was surprised to see “cataloging” on the list of prominent library uses.  It was really interesting to read about Waubonsee Community College Library incorporating a Twitter link into their Marc records to enable patrons to login to their Twitter account and send a direct link to the catalog record.  Waubonsee also found ways to incorporate Twitter into their Sirsi ILS system for alerts.  Does this mean you could have Twittered overdue notices?  Could you Twitter someone when they have a hold available?  Now that would be pretty cool.

Twitter is here to stay, no matter how people like me are initially skeptical.  Libraries have always been creative with the way they use technology, and Twitter is no exception (I love libraries!).  Besides, Librarians would never use Twitter to post anything inane, right?

Reference:

Twittering Libraries Wiki

http://lis5313.ci.fsu.edu/wiki/index.php/Twittering_Libraries

blogpostwk2n2 – discombobulated thoughts

Note:  I struggled with this post assignment, and the discombobulated results below show it.  I went into the assignment thinking I was pretty sure that libraries didn’t do well with online branding, but then was left with feeling that they really do give it a go, but the results are hard to quantify.  I guess I ultimately don’t really know how effective libraries are about branding, and you’ll sense my flip flop in my post.  I better student would have started all over again…

Post blogpostwk2n2

My gut reaction to the question of how effective libraries are about branding online is, not very.  That being said, I don’t think that a very accurate assessment.  I’m going by my own experience with the library where I work, which I feel has always struggled with promoting itself outside the usual channels.  Our library website is improving (check it out: http://library.cityofanacortes.org/rooms/portal/page/Sirsi_HOME) thanks to some great work from our computer tech staff of one, but we haven’t been able make a presence in social media.  What that means is that someone really has to be looking for information about the library to find it.  Other than our main library website, and one other site that’s not promoted well (discussed in next paragraph), there isn’t anyplace to electronically stumble, so-to-speak, across something our library has to offer that someone might not have thought to directly seek through our library website.  That being said, I’m not sure if social media is the answer.

I feel like the Anacortes library has a really strong culture of wonderful customer service, diverse programs, and a wonderful collection of materials, and I’m not sure how well that is translated through our website alone.  It’s easy to dismiss the necessity of a strong social media presence when you are a small town library with a committed community, but I feel like it’s a library’s responsibility to share what it’s got with a wider community, and we have yet to explore the tools available to us through social media.  I had someone comment to me that libraries have a hard time tooting their own horns, and I tend to agree.  Social media is certainly not the answer all to the problem, but I think it would be a way to reach a bit broader audience.

Our library has, however, made one electronic leap outside of our main website.  Thanks to a large endowment granted to us years ago, Anacortes Library houses one of the most incredible jazz music collection on the West coast.  The endowment pays for performers to play in our library’s community room once a month, drawing from both local talent, and well-known acts.  It’s very well attended by a group of core regulars, but I find that people are always surprised by it when they first discover it.  First they’re surprised a library would have a monthly jazz concert, and then they’re surprised they hadn’t heard of it until then.  If you Google the phrase “jazz at the library” you will find our jazz endowment’s webpage (http://www.jazzatthelibrary.com/) is the first site to pop up.  Ironically, through writing this post, I discovered that the jazz community has their own Facebook site where they represent the jazz goings-on at the library.  So in a sense, Anacortes library already has some social media presence, it’s just specific to the jazz community.  Considering that none of the library staff knows about the site, it’s clearly not being promoted

Ok, I’ve got nowhere in answering the assigned question of how effective libraries are about online branding.  I think I need more than the allotted time to think on it, and will put this post out of its misery now…

 

Exercise One – 246

I chose the company Competitive Cyclist (http://www.competitivecyclist.com/), an online retailer with a large physical store in Utah.  They are a company I’ve been following for years, and have used more for the information they provide on their website, rather than a place to purchase goods (they are a bit more expensive than others).

I started by using Tweetscan to search for Competitive Cyclist’s presence on Twitter, which yielded many results.  Twitter was the best source to find out what people are saying about Competitive Cyclist.  Comments like “your customer service rocked my world” and race or ride related comments dominated.  Competitive Cyclist is basically a bike shop that specializes in high-end bikes and the race market.  Competitive Cyclist actively follows European cycling, so many of their own Tweets relate to the racing circuit.  In reading through hundreds of tweets, most of them were positive, which leads me to believe Competitive Cyclist actively monitors their Twitter link to sift out the negative stuff.  Of course, Competitive Cyclist also uses Twitter to advertise sales and deals.  Their sales pitches often seem conveniently posted by a customer, and not the store itself.  They are effective at posting Tweets that act as conversation starters, albeit a 150 character restricted conversation.

Searching Competitive Cyclist on MonitorThis yielded results from over ten different websites.  Facebook and Youtube were prevalent, so I had a look at Competitive Cyclists Facebook presence.  They are very active on Facebook.  I checked the site late on a Sunday night, and there was a new post only an hour old describing the head of the company’s Sunday bike ride (not your typical lazy Sunday ride).  Competitive Cyclist definitely uses Facebook to proactively communicate with their followers.  Not only do they post the current sales, they personalize their retail chain by posting video tour of their main facility in Utah, and their staff’s experiences with products.  Most of their videos are presented through Youtube, where they have a Competitive Cyclist channel.  Their technical videos, showing how to install bicycle products or work on bicycles, help create a relationship with their clientele that clearly hopes to go beyond their large retailer persona.  They seem to be using social media to create the feel of a friendly, helpful local bike shop where you know and trust the staff.  I think it’s actually pretty effective.  There are a ton of bike shops online, and somehow Competitive Cyclist have made themselves unique.  They’ve given themselves personality through their social media web presence.  I don’t actually buy much from them, but for some reason frequent their website, and always go to them to read about new product.

Competitive Cyclist’s use of Facebook and Twitter to do small interviews with cyclists creates the feel of a cycling magazine that tries to provide content along with advertising.  I realize it’s all part of marketing, but it’s effective in making the customer feel like they are as interested in cycling as their customers.  The feeling I get from Social media related to Competitive Cyclist is that people respect their expertise and turn to them regularly, like I do, for product information.  They are quick to respond to comments and clearly have a staff dedicated to a social media presence on the Internet.

 

LIBR – 246

The library where I work is a city library, which often feels a bit lonely.  We collaborate with other county libraries, but we have to fight our own battles with local administration.  We’ve got a great mayor that runs the show, but he’s incredibly resistant to any social technology and what he feels are the “inherent risks” it enabling web conversations to run both ways.  Likewise, our tech department feels there’s no room for social technology, and blocks social networking from all city computers.  While reading some of assigned reading this week, I realized we’re not alone.  Many of the articles spoke to the road blocks libraries encounter when trying to enter into the social an interactive library.  Jami Haskell, in her article “create a social software policy for your library,” encourages libraries to tackle skepticism by providing clear social networking guidelines in the form of library policies (http://www.webjunction.org/computer-policies/articles/content/452821).  “Applied prototyping: designing for buy-in,” follows the idea that libraries need to create a working model to test the waters, then approach the powers that be (http://dbl.lishost.org/blog/2007/07/03/applied-prototyping-designing-for-buy-in/).  I definitely can see see how combining both approaches would work with our mayor.  He doesn’t like to have to visualize ideas, instead wanting to see solid proof of how ideas are going to work right out of the gate.  It feels like providing clear and concise policy would help alleviate some of his fears of losing control over the two way conversation.

Establishing trust with an IT department is a slippery slop.  Nobody is expected to know as much as an IT person and be fluent in their terminology, but as the article “building trust with IT staff” describes, you must be able to “discuss things on their own terms” (http://www.librarywebchic.net/2005/07/04/building-trust-with-it-staff/).  Our IT staff are incredibly knowledgeable, and feel like they are constantly fighting the good fight against the those trying to work their way into the city internet system.  Actually letting people in, so-to-speak, through social networking seems counter intuitive to the way they work.

Our library director feels strongly about the need to implement web 2.0 (yes, we’re not even there yet) and social networking aspects to our website, and has been to push the mayor to make the plunge.  These days, not having a presence on Facebook feels like you don’t really have a web presence at all.