Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Computers in Libraries 2008, day two highlights

One of the difficult things about this conference is that so many of the sessions look really really interesting, and I always desperately wish I could be cloned, at least for the few days I am attending.

The first session of the day (for me) was Next Generation Library Interfaces by Marshall Breeding. This was particularly interesting for me because our library had gotten a new OPAC relatively recently, and I had also read the Library Technology Report on Next Generation Library Catalogs he had written. He started out with a sobering statistic from a 2005 study, that 89% of college students go to search engines and only 2% go to the library website when searching for information. He then went on to ask if OPACs were really just computerized card catalogs, and did library websites both meet information needs and also attract interest? In addition to these considerations, he pointed out some flaws of ILS OPACs, namely:
  • not good for delivering e-content
  • text-based interfaces
  • hampered by weak keyword searches
  • poor relevancy sorting
  • narrow scope of content
What I found most compelling and/or prescient was his characterization of the searching experience as "disjointed." In other words, one must know to search in different places for different content, different places for books, articles, etc. He prescribed several things to update OPACs for users--that OPACs must be re-envisioned and traditional ideas of the catalog should be discarded. A new-style OPAC should:
  • integrate print and online resources
  • not force people to use different interfaces
  • better relevancy ranked results
  • incorporate social networking traits
  • bread crumbs
  • spell check and search suggest (do you mean this? like in google)
  • re-make, evolve LCSH, MARC
The next session was on Twitter and with several presenters--Michael Sauers and Christa Burns presented on Twitter, and Aysegul Kapucu, Athena Hoeppner, and Doug Dunlop presented on

The presentation began with the segment, which explained that it is a web-based social bookmarking tool, available from any browser, and how their university (University of Central Florida) uses it to increase access to library resources by creating quick on the fly resource lists for classes and individuals. They made an account for ucflibrary and also uploaded 400 database links, tagged resources for students and classes by name in research consultations and library instruction, and trained librarians to use They are working on subject specific accounts like art and engineering, and also did a survey to assess student awareness. They found that there may need to be some outreach to students, as their students were not natively aware of
Our library has been using a site, but it was very interesting to see how this library was using theirs pretty extensively.

The Twitter portion was presented by Michael Sauers and Christa Burns. I am regular reader of Michael Sauers' blog, so I was keenly interested to see what he had to say. I have also used Twitter sporadically in my personal life and so was curious how libraries use it institutionally. A few examples that they gaver were the Ann Arbor District Library, that is using it for announcements, and also the Nebraska Library Commission , that uses it to post questions. They also showed BBC technews headlines. Some of the issues about using Twitter were:
  • too many sms tweets
  • the ephemeral nature of tweets
  • it's posssibly too distracting
  • the need to participate to get any reaction
  • the need to follow and @comment others
  • link to your stuff
  • Don’t take non-responses personally
  • Be patient
  • Avoid addiction
  • Use your name
The next session was on Facebook in Libraries, presented by Laurie Bridges and Cliff Landis. Popular with generation Y, and has applications for outreach, social aspects, information organization, advertising, and virtual networking.He notied it is the most popular site for people aged 18-24 is and more popular than google.Facebook has about 58 million users, and about half return daily.It is also the “stickiest” website—average users stick around 20 minutes and average 32 page views.He talked about Library webpages and how library applications are not social, and therefore not as popular. Some of his interesting conclusions were:
  • that Library catalogs are social networks for ideas
  • Ideas are social
  • The line between intellectual and social space was never there
  • it is never a mistake to give users more options
  • Talk to users
  • Use the tools they are using
  • Broadcast what you are doing
  • Earn your audience
The next two sessions were also very interesting. One was on Video, YouTube, and Libraries. I saw the first half with Karen McBride. It was very much a how-to start doing videos with very simple equipment. I liked that she emphasized that 2.0 video is raw, edgy, and badly lit, and that it is okay not to be perfect. She talked about the various options with cameras, etc.

The next one I attended was about Virtual Reference, and in particular I caught the part of the presentation about American University's efforts in that realm. They started to transition to IM only in 2006, and they talked about how IM service providers weren't just limited to librarians, but also paraprofessionals. They stressed how it built rapport and helped grow the service. They also talked a bit about their marketing efforts, involving graphic design with faculty and staff input and student reaction. They showed some of their branding, as well as other things like valentine's day themed stickers, candy, and imprinted sharpie pens. They also spoke of how they marketed using facebook, the student news, in-class, on campus newspaper, shuttlebuses, etc. I was also very intrigued as they spoke of evaluating and expanding their service further with meebo, VOIP, and sms/texting.

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