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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