INF206 Evaluative Report

Part A – Evaluative Statement

The three OLJ blog posts chosen to form the basis of this evaluative statement are:

Librarian 2.0

A – Z of Social Networking

RSS feeds

  • A librarian in the Web 2.0 world

A close examination of what it means to be a librarian in the Web 2.0 world involves looking not only at the technologies involved but also at how those technologies are being used and how they can be used to assist us in providing better services for our clients (Harvey, 2009, para. 5). 

The evolution of Web 2.0 technologies has given us what Abram (2007, para. 3) describes as the ‘social web’ where an emphasis is placed on “interactivity, conversations, interpersonal networking, personalisation, and individualism”. Social networking is a large part of this evolution and embraces a culture of sharing and the social media technologies that allow for that sharing on a large scale. 

Librarians working in this environment are increasingly working with digital content and tools and often act as intermediaries to assist their users to find the information that they seek.  However, it’s not just about the tools – it is about finding the right technology, asking the right questions and assessing how it fulfils both your users and organisational goals (Harvey, 2009, para. 6). 

  • Having the right attitude

A big part of working as a librarian in a Web 2.0 environment is having the right attitude towards change.  We are living in an era of rapid and almost constant change where technology provides us with new opportunities to interact, communicate and learn. 

The following ten points provide a summary of the essential knowledge, skills and attributes of an information professional in a Web 2.0 world:

  1. is open to and responds positively to change
  2. learns about and uses Web 2.0 technologies to provide better library services
  3. is involved in helping others discover information in ubiquitous ways
  4. uses social media to offer valuable content that is relevant, interesting and informative
  5. is excited about the possibilities that social networking can offer to enhance the library’s services and engage with users
  6. is committed to actively maintaining the library’s social networking sites
  7. keeps up with trends to be ‘where our users are’
  8. asks for feedback and listens to what users say they want and need
  9. makes use of metrics for valuable insights into user growth and trends
  10. encourages communication, collaboration, community and co-creation (Brown, 2010; Cohen, 2006; and Abram, 2007).
  • Embracing a culture of change

How are libraries making use of Web 2.0 technologies to embrace a culture of change?  The majority of libraries, regardless of type (public, educational, special) are concerned with providing the services that their users want and are harnessing technology in innovative ways to do that.

Some of the ways in which libraries are using Web 2.0 technologies:

Blogs can be used as a simple means to publishing information about a library’s services, to make announcements and as an educational tool to provide instruction.  When open to comments, blogs can be useful for receiving feedback and creating a dialogue with users.  Blogs are also a very effective means of feeding users back to the library’s main website through the use of links.  Making use of reader statistics can be an effective way to determine which posts have been the most popular and relate that back to how and where the blog has been promoted (Burkhardt, 2010, p. 11-12; Harvey, 2009, para. 12-15).

Facebookhaving a presence on facebook is a must. Facebook is currently the most popular social networking site in Australia with users from both sexes and all age groups (Sensis, 2011). Using your library facebook page for marketing purposes can be a very effective way to reach your users where they already are (Brown, 2010).

RSS feeds can be an effective tool to offer a diverse range of information about a library’s services.  The State Library of Queensland’s RSS feed offers information about news and events, presentations, collection highlights and links to related blogs and webcasts.  Suitable feeds can also be subscribed to from outside the library and made available through a library’s websites in support of information that might be of interest or helpful to users.

Videos are a great way for libraries to enhance their services or engage with their users to provide information or instruction (Brown, 2010).  Video can be embedded into a library’s website, blog or facebook page – or as is the case with the Arizona State University Library, if you are prolific enough in producing your own videos you could create your own video channel on YouTube.

Part B – Reflective statement

  • Waving, not drowning

As an information professional (in training) learning about social networking necessarily involves throwing yourself into a very deep Web 2.0 sea of technologies.  As Kevin Kelly on The Technium says, “we have to use things in order to find out about them … we actually have to engage with the technology. The only way to determine whether something is good for us, bad for us, is through use” (Kelly, 2009).

There is a plethora of tools from which to choose.  Which blog platform?  Which news feed aggregator?  Which social networking sites?  Once your preferences have been made profiles need to be set up and decisions made about privacy levels.  Is this a public site?  How much information should I share?  Can I choose who views my information? (Raynes-Goldie, 2010, para. 6).  Then the business of learning to swim in this environment begins.  How does it work?  How can this help me?  Is it easy to share?  Is this valuable or a waste of time?  What can I do with this?

The very nature of social networking implies sociable communication, collaboration and sharing between communities of like-minded people.  Are there sharks in the water?  Maybe … this is Australia after all!  However, we will take all precaution, swim between the flags and be assured the lifeguards will look out for us.  As a student in an online distance learning environment perhaps the best support you will receive throughout this course will be from your fellow students.  Sharing information within a community of practice, in this case through the INF206 Facebook group will prove invaluable, not only for the information you receive but also through the ideas you share, conversations you have, help you can provide, friends you will make, and the networking and professional development opportunities that will remain long after you have completed the course.

  • Bodysurfing

By completely immersing yourself within a range of social networking environments and experiencing first-hand what it is like to be a member of social networks, you will soon find that it’s a lot of fun playing with these tools.   But we’re here for a reason, and that is to explore how these tools can potentially be used in support of an organisations goals, whether that is informational, educational or social, and how we can apply them for the benefit of our clients and learners.

Having to write a social networking proposal will take you into the realm of organisational strategic plans, mission statements and policies.  There will be many questions to answer.  What Web 2.0 tools are currently being used?  How does my proposal fit into this?  What purpose does it serve?  What are the objectives?  Are there any issues?  How can it be implemented?  Research, look into what your organisation and others already have in place, and think about why it is needed, who it will serve and what benefits it will bring (Burkhardt, 2010, p. 10).

The range of tasks needed to complete your online learning journal will also have you thinking about how your experiences can be applied in a learning or informational environment.  Ethical issues such as intellectual property, copyright and the creative commons, concerns around privacy and online identities, the impact of trends, teens and young people using social networks, information policies, online behaviour and acceptable use, the digital divide and information access for all are other areas to be explored and understood.

  • Teaching others to swim

At the end of the course, while by no means an ‘expert’ – because in the Web 2.0 world none of us is these days, you will have gained a greater understanding of and insight into what it means to participate and contribute using social technologies.  You will have sampled a myriad of possibilities for social media use and seen these in action within a large number of libraries and educational settings.  You will have updated your Facebook status numerous times, made new friends, posted blog entries, learnt how to embed YouTube clips, tweeted, and shared web links in Delicious and photos in flickr.  If lucky enough to have a high speed internet connection you will have ventured into the 3D virtual world that is Second Life.

You will have looked into how these tools can be used in support of organisational goals and you will have produced a social media proposal that may even be good enough to use for real.  You will have a greater understanding of the ethics and issues that surround the use of social technologies. What will you do with this knowledge?  Now you have the opportunity to teach others what you have learnt, to advocate for social networking in your organisation, be excited about the opportunities and infuse others with that excitement.  Good luck on the rest of your journey!

References

Abram, S. (2007). Web 2.0, library 2.0 and librarian 2.0: Preparing for the 2.0 world. Proceedings Online Information 2007, 1-3. Retrieved from: http://www.online-information.co.uk/online09/files/freedownloads.new_link1.1080622103251.pdf

Brown, A. (2010, 22 January). A-Z of social networking for libraries [Blog]. Retrieved from: http://socialnetworkinglibrarian.com/2010/01/22/a-to-z-of-social-networking-for-libraries/

Burkhardt, A. (2010). Social media: A guide for college and university libraries. College and Research Libraries News, 71(1), 10-24. Retrieved from: http://crln.acrl.org/content/71/1/10.full.pdf+html

Cohen, L. (2006). A librarian’s 2.0 manifesto. . Retrieved from: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZblrRs3fkSU

Harvey, M. (2009). What does it mean to be a science librarian 2.0? Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, (Summer). Retrieved from: http://www.istl.org/09-summer/article2.html

Kelly, K. (2009). Penny for your thoughts . Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/eeTEcwmfuu4

Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook. First Monday, 15(1). Retrieved from: http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2775/2432

Sensis. (2011). Social media report: What Australian people and businesses are doing with social media. Retrieved from: http://about.sensis.com.au/IgnitionSuite/uploads/docs/SENSIS%20SOCIAL%20MEDIA%20REPORT[2].pdf

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Second Life

INF206-INF506 Second Life visit to Stanford University Libraries Rare Book CollectionOne of the most interesting immersive experiences I’ve had during this course have been our class visits into Second Life.  I have never been a gamer so MUVE (Multi User Virtual Environment) and MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) platforms are unfamiliar to me and learning how to use what  seemed like a very complex interface at first was a bit daunting but after a few visits it became much easier to negotiate.

Second Life is a 3D virtual world created by Linden Labs which opened in 2003.  It isn’t a game platform as such and there are no quests to fulfil or levels to achieve, however it is possible to participate within Second Life in a number of different ways.  Users who join Second Life create an avatar which becomes a virtual representation of themselves in whichever way they wish to be seen and there are many different forms to choose from.  Avatars are known as residents and at any given time there may be tens of thousands of residents currently ‘in world’ albeit spread out over a large amount of virtual terrain.

Second Life has its own economy – reputed to be the only economy to have remained stable during the Global Financial Crisis and residents can purchase Linden dollars to buy goods or if you have the time and skills you can also create goods to sell or even purchase your own land and create your very own virtual space.  But it isn’t necessary to spend money in Second Life as there are many places to visit or items that you can have for free.

One drawback to using Second Life is that it is necessary to have a high speed internet connection, plenty of space on your hard drive and a good graphics card otherwise it can be impossible to load the program.

Educators and librarians who have a presence in Second Life use it to provide opportunities for students or groups of people to come together for tours and orientations, conferences, lectures, meetings, book talks and exhibitions, some libraries also offer reference services.  One of the main advantages to using Second Life is that it is a great tool for bringing people together regardless of where they may be in the world geographically and gives them the opportunity to interact in real time using text or voice.  As a distance student, being able to talk to my fellow students and hear their voices in return was the highlight of my time spent in Second Life.

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Issues related to online identity, privacy and trust

Many of us who work in libraries have a professional online profile – often linked to the work we do, these profiles are generally available publicly and can be useful for networking or as a way to provide information about who we are for our clients.  Many of us also use social networks where the online profiles we create may be quite different to our professional one – often it just makes sense to keep the two separate and your personal profiles private!  Also it may seem obvious, but it really isn’t a good idea to include your home address or phone number in your profile information.

Understanding the implications of sharing within large networks means that the information you present about yourself may be available to people outside of your personal network of friends.  If keeping your information private is important to you then it would be wise to look closely at the networks you use, their privacy settings and be discerning when you choose to add people as your friends.

The concept of privacy can mean different things to different people.  Prior to Web 2.0 people were generally concerned with institutional privacy; that is, how governments, banks and other businesses might use or misuse their information.  Now people are using social networks there is more concern about their ‘social’ privacy or how, when and who can see their personal information.

As information professionals it is our duty to ensure that the personal information we have about our users is kept private.  It is important that our users feel they can trust us not to give out their information to other people, and this includes information in their borrowing records such as the type of books they read.

But regardless of how careful we are with our personal information online we leave a digital footprint in our wake each time we use the internet. Data mining occurs whether we like it or not and it appears to be the price we pay for using free web platforms such as Google, Facebook, MSN and others who generate large revenues from digital advertising services.  Many of the ads you see when using these sites will be directly related to key words you have entered. Personally, I like to have fun with this from time to time and will enter random keywords just to see what ads will result.

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Growing trends in digital citizenship

There are a number of growing trends evident with the rising use of online technologies and this shift is having a major impact on how individuals behave and how we interact with what can seem like an overwhelming amount of information. 

On watching the video below it is possible to identify five current trends.

  1. Newspaper print circulation is down, online newspaper readership is increasing.  Book sales reached a peak in 2007 but have decreased steadily since then.  Digital book sales are reducing traditional book revenues but not adding to an overall increase in sales.
  2. Traditional forms of advertising (newspaper, TV/radio and magazine) are declining and digital advertising is growing rapidly. More and more people are using the internet to find information.
  3. The amount of video content uploaded to YouTube has exploded to around 60 hours worth of content every minute. The site streams 4 billion online videos every day and  revenue generated from display ads running with the videos equates to $5 billion annually. 
  4. The use of mobile technologies is increasing.  The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that in Australia at the end of June 2011 there were 9.7 million mobile handset subscribers in Australia. The volume of data downloaded via mobile handsets increased from 717 TB (Terabytes) to 3,695 TB in the 12 months to June 2011.
  5. The use of twitter has grown exponentially.  The nature of twitter is such that information on topics such as current affairs, breaking news and politics can reach a global audience within a small period of time – often before these events are reported through traditional media.

So, how do these trends impact on the need for an information policy in organisations to address these behaviours?  Because information is so freely available online to increasing numbers of people who can easily use, redistribute and change that information it is important for those of us working in organisations such as libraries to make people aware of issues such as copyright and the creative commons – what constitutes responsible and fair use of information as well as the possible legal consequences of any breaches.  This also extends to educating our users as to the proper referencing of others work and attributing ownership to the legal creator of a resource.  This information can be displayed prominently in areas where people access information, be provided in the form of instruction or as part of an ‘acceptable use’ policy that must be agreed to before accessing the internet within the library or organisation.

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Innovative use of social media in libraries

Although many libraries are taking a 2.0 approach to providing information services using Web 2.0 tools, there are others that draw the line when it comes to using more popular forms of social networking.  Certainly in some organisations there may be a lack of understanding as to how social media works and even resistance to changing the way things have always been done.

In many ways using social media is about letting go of the notion of being ‘in control’. It is about trusting your users and allowing them to have a say. It is also about being open to negative feedback in a public arena and realising that a timely and positive response will often do more good than harm and can be beneficial in assisting you to provide better services. Lastly, issues of privacy around social media can be a concern for some organisations; however I believe that with good policies and practices in place it is possible to ensure you maintain the highest standards.

On a national scale, one library that is at the forefront in using social media to enhance it’s service provision is the National Library of Australia’s Trove project where their use of crowdsourcing and social engagement has enabled them to employ an army of unpaid volunteers to digitise out of copyright books, proofread articles and transcribe handwritten records enabling them to become searchable online.  The slideshare presentation below created by Rose Holley explains more about the project.

Living Libraries Australia wiki is an example of using social media to form partnerships and was developed by the Australian Library and Information Association in conjunction with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Lismore City Council. The purpose of the wiki is to provide an online forum for members of the Living Libraries Australia network to share information and collaborate. Lismore’s Living Library is an initiative that aims to bring people from diverse backgrounds together through conversation to promote understanding and community – it works in the same way as a normal library however the ‘Books’ in this case are real people and the stories they tell are their life.

Finally, the University College Dublin Library gives us an example of how Facebook can be used in a positive and active way to promote not only the library’s services, but also to provide a wealth of interesting information including announcements, links to other sites and instruction videos. I am not surprised the library has been ‘liked’ 2,248 times!

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A – Z of Social Networking

‘The A to Z of Social Networking for Libraries’ is a list created by AnnaLaura Brown in 2010 where she offers advice as to why libraries should be using social networks.  Choosing only five points to discuss in this post is a challenge mainly because Brown makes a lot of good points!  I will mention those points that I feel should be embraced as part of a Library 2.0 ethos as well as two relevant technologies that could be made use of in my workplace.

  1. Active – if you are using social networking in the library it is not enough to just set it up and then forget about it.  For example, if you choose to have a library blog it must be updated regularly in order for it to work for you and your library.  Make a commitment to spend some time each day or each week to keep your social networks alive. 
  2. Content – are you offering your users valuable information that they will want to read and appreciate?  Ask your users what they would like.  Ask for feedback.  Make your content relevant, interesting and informative.  Make use of your site’s statistics to provide you with valuable insights into user growth and trends. 
  3. Facebook – having a presence on facebook is a must.  Facebook is currently the most popular social networking site in Australia with users from both sexes and all age groups.  Using your library facebook page for marketing purposes can be a very effective way to reach your users where they already are.
  4. Video – use video to enhance and engage with your users via social networking.  A great example of how one library is offering video content to inform and instruct its users are the Arizona State University Library Minute videos.  Each video in the series is presented by the engaging Anali Perry and uses humour to impart information about the library and its services in a fun way.
  5. Zeal – if your staff is excited about the possibilities that social networking can offer your library, their energetic and unflagging enthusiasm will be a key component in helping your social networking strategies succeed.
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Librarian 2.0

Following on from the previous post about ‘Library 2.0’ I would like to introduce the related term ‘Librarian 2.0’ and talk about what I believe to be some of the essential skills and attributes required of an information professional today.  ‘Librarian 2.0’ is the general term used to describe library workers who use Web 2.0 tools and reflects the transition away from the more traditional roles usually associated with libraries.  As you can see from this list compiled by Michelle Mach in 2003 there are a range of job titles now in use that show the changing nature of the work we do.

As Web 2.0 technologies evolve they allow for greater connectivity between people who are producing and sharing content online, creating networks and communities, and interacting with information and each other in unprecedented ways.  The majority of libraries, regardless of type (public, educational, special) are concerned with providing the services that their users want and are harnessing technology in innovative ways to do that.  Librarians working in this environment are increasingly working with digital content and tools and often act as intermediaries to assist their users in finding the information that they seek.

From the readings I’ve completed so far in this course and my own experience working in a library I would suggest that one of the main skills required of an information professional is the willingness to learn and try new things.  It’s important to look at all of the tools that are available to us and to try them out so we can get a sense of what will suit our users.  Asking for feedback and listening to what our users say they want is imperative, as is keeping up with trends so we can place ourselves ‘where our users are’ or where they are likely to find us.  

We are living in an era of rapid and almost constant change, technology provides us with new opportunities to interact, communicate and learn.  As information professionals it also offers us opportunities to be involved in helping others discover information in ubiquitous ways. 

This great clip by Laura Cohen says it all for me.

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