Nonprofits are your friends

8 08 2007

Technically, libraries aren’t nonprofits…we’re usually government agencies, but we have a lot in common with nonprofits, too.  I haven’t spent much time looking into the advocacy offerings of the nonprofit folks because I’ve had my hands full just trying to catch up with the librarians!

But for my grant, I needed to evaluate the tools that were already out there, and I couldn’t find much in the way of Web 2.0 for library advocacy (which is good, since that’s what I’m trying to get a grant for!*) so I plugged “nonprofit” in my search box and lo and behold, I hit the motherlode! I shouldn’t be too surprised… nonprofits traditionally have even less funding than libraries, so they’ve been quicker to adopt new ways of garnering public support.

Here are a few of my favorites from the bunch…

  • Nonprofit Technology Network – their Web 2.0 category has some great stuff!
  • Net ^2 (squared) , remixing the  web for social change
  • Roots.lab, helping nonprofits leverage the social web… they have a great rundown of what the social web can do for nonprofits here

More details about the revised grant forthcoming… I just finished the draft for my class this evening.

* Please let me know if you’ve found anything out there that deals with social networking/social media for libraries in any kind of detail. I couldn’t find anything, but maybe one of you has run across something?

Prosumer? Where do libraries fit in?

16 06 2007

TechCrunch embedded a video by Davide Casaleggio about the rise of the “prosumer” – the producer and consumer that participates in Web 2.0 – and it’s incredibly fascinating. He gives a brief history of things which have already happened (copyright struggles, decline of traditional advertising because of TiVo, etc) and then goes on to talk about the future (as if it were history already and he was giving us a lesson).

Go watch the video.

Now tell me…where do libraries fit in?

A Librarian’s Guide to the Web?

13 06 2007

(via TechCrunch) Mahalo is another tailored-result search engine (like ChaCha which I’ve mentioned on this blog before). Today I read that Mahalo is looking for Part Time Guides(PTG) to help build tailored result pages (part of their “Greenhouse” project).

PTG’s are paid $10-15 if Mahalo buys their tailored result page and, in addition to creating a customized results page, Guides can flag links with various Mahalo icons for “Guide’s Choice,” “What is” (items that may be new to the searcher) or even “Warning” flags for sites that might be malicious.

Initially, I jumped on this as a great opportunity for librarians to help web-searchers find excellent results, but I’m not certain that $10-15 is appropriate compensation. Guides are credited with the creation of pages, but perhaps this would be a better project for a library system to undertake. The system could select pages their community might have an interest in, and then turn the pages over to their librarians to create the content. I’m very interested in Mahalo’s wiki-fied approach to web searching.

What do you think? Good idea or bad?

Update: I just read Jason Griffey’s take on Mahalo… and learned for the first time about the Librarian’s Internet Index. I will never cease to be amazed at the number of things I have yet to learn. Hey, anyone know about a Guide to Libraries and the Internet or a Guide to Library Marketing/Library 2.0 that I could pick up somewhere?

Workaholic Librarian

30 05 2007

Being new to the profession of librarianship, I feel like I need to play catch up with everything that happened before. I want to read about everything my predecessors did to pave the way so I can understand where they’re coming from and learn from mistakes and successes.

As I sift through information, trying to keep up with everything new, and also trying to systematically absorb everything that’s happened in the last 10 years of wired librarianship, I’m constantly daunted by the sheer volume of information I’m contending with. Even with all my tools and systems to keep everything straight, I cannot hope to meaningfully comprehend everything we’ve been doing for the past 10 years. I had to sit down and think about where I was headed with my endless gathering of information when I read The Shifted Librarian this afternoon saying we don’t have to be SuperLibrarians by day and SuperBloggers by night.

I realized I was trying to do too much this weekend when my partner, Don, had to drag me out to spend time in the beautiful sunshine…I realized quite suddenly that I’d become a workaholic. Having a career that I love, that I’m truly interested in learning more about, combined with the saintly feeling I get for working for an essentially nonprofit company as a public servant is a dangerous mix. It’s very easy to get confused about what is “hobby” and what is “work.”

So I’m learning how to take a break. I didn’t open the computer at all this morning and didn’t check email til I got to work! It felt like a big accomplishment. I did accept an invitation to contribute to another blog, Library Angst, this afternoon. But there are two other bloggers there and there isn’t as much pressure to post daily or every-other-day. I think it will be doable.

I just need to remember to close the computer and go outside every once an a while.

Apparently, I’m not the only one. Check out the comments section of the Shifted Librarian’s entry, and these non-library related blogs:

Library 2.0 – the community

27 05 2007

As a new member of the online library community, there are going to be times when I don’t know about the coolest new thing librarians are doing. There are going to be blogs I’ve missed and resources I overlook. And even though I know there’s no possible way I can just jump into this and know everything that’s going on, I’ll still probably feel pretty sheepish when I stumble across something I feel like I should’ve known about already.

This morning I had one of those moments with the Library 2.0 Community. What a great place! I’m still poking around and seeing how everything works, but it seems very well done and just the sort of place I was looking for.

I’m thinking of setting up a group on it for marketing, and one for MSIS students, if they haven’t already been created.

Yesterday’s library services are today’s killer app

24 05 2007

Well, it seems today is the day for repackaging library services as Web 2.0 apps. Not only has the search engine ChaCha begun providing co-browsing services, but now we’ve got GoodReads. Yes, yes, I know, we’ve had LibraryThing for ages, but that at least had library in the title. I think perhaps this one bugs me because it’s called the exact same thing as the recommender page of my local library.

But why should this bother me? Is it the same? Better? Worse? The premise for GoodReads (and LibraryThing) is the community of recommenders. Rather than one or two librarians researching and providing recommender services and lists, these rely on a community of readers to weigh in and share likes and dislikes with other users. Maybe that is better… it’s at least more ground than one librarian could cover. But what about the community of librarians? Surely we didn’t do it all on our own (or did we?). We must have talked to eachother…served as a recommender amongst ourselves to get the word out. And we read reviews… but how was that any better than anyone else reading reviews?

My thoughts aren’t quite formed on this subject yet…give me time and I’ll put a little marketing shine and silver lining on this.

Update: Every librarian I’ve told about ChaCha says “Oooh, how cool!” Even the ones who provide chat reference/co-browsing! I was beginning to think my reservations were misplaced, but then I took a closer look at the ChaCha Chat window on the left of these screenshots (the middle one) and I was rather amused that they decided to include this particular chat session which doesn’t seem to be going too well.

This guy is looking for golf balls. The guided search person says “Have you checked the Relevant Links in the sidebar?” That would be the grey-box sidebar which are paid advertisement links. When the patron says “none of those are what I want” the Search Assitant drops out and the service says “Another search expert will be on shortly who can help you better!” So…by better you mean you’ll help me out beyond just telling me to click on your advertiser’s links? Are you serious?

Webware 100 and Inspiration

23 05 2007

Webware just posted the nominations in each category for the top 100 Web 2.0 gadgets out there. It’s fascinating seeing all the offerings. Most of the nominees are folks we’ve heard of before (Twitter, Squidoo), but some are completely new to me, like Cha Cha (a search engine that enhances searches through the use of “skilled search experts”…gee, where have I heard of that before?), Tangler (Community conversations…kind of like discussion boards/message boards, but better), and Midomi (hum that song you heard while waiting in line and Midomi will tell you the title, artist, and where you can buy it… but not only that, you can buy the recordings of other Midomi users who sang the song on the site… there’s even a recording studio).

Some of my other favorite finds from the list:

  • Basecamp – I’d like to try this one out for my next group project. It’s an online communication, collaboration and milestone-tracking tool. Way easier than trying to figure out who’s got the latest version of the Gantt Chart.
  • ConceptShare – Same type of thing but for the visuals… it’s so hard to talk about what needs fixing with a visual design via email. This lets you mark up/comment on images… draw all over it!
  • Instructables – Create something (knit it, paint it, cook it, whatever-it), then show others how they can do it, too.

So…what does all this have to do with libraries and marketing? Well, Cha Cha has a pretty direct correlation:

ChaCha’s goal is to provide a better search experience by combining results that are hand-picked by our knowledgeable human guides with the best computer-generated search results. In those cases where you can’t find what you need with our instant results, ChaCha will connect you with a live human guide who will find the information for you through an instant messaging-style search session.


And the others, well, I’m not sure yet. Instructables is fascinating… so is Midomi… harvesting all that creativity and capturing it… making it searchable. It warms my heart…

Now as for Basecamp, ConceptShare and Tangler… well, I think those are tools I want us to use. Us being the library advocates. I want us to have a community… something it kind of feels like we’re lacking. A place to share our ideas, successes, to comment on the work of others. I can say “what do you think” here on my own little blog with no readership…but the conversation is then somewhat limited to my small sphere. I want us to go bigger…much bigger.


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