Andrew Eynon’s Library Blog

A blog about librarianship in Further Education

Posts Tagged ‘Library 2.0’

September FE library update

Posted by andrewey on September 30, 2008


There were a couple of interesting articles on Web 2.0 in academic libraries published this month:

Sarah Cohen, ‘Taking 2.0 to the faculty‘, C&RL News, September 2008 – about persuading academic staff of the educational value of Web 2.0 tools.

Karen Markey et al, ‘The effectiveness of a web-based board game for teaching undergraduate students information literacy concepts and skills‘, D-Lib Magazine, Vol 14 (9/10) Sept/Oct 2008.


TechDis have published  a ‘Guide to obtaining textbooks in alternative formats‘ – there is also a database of publisher contacts to obtain such titles.

Information Literacy

Some useful sources of information on information skills delivery:

Journal of Information Literacy – full text is freely available, some useful book reviews in the current issue

ALISS (Association of Library & Information Professionals in the Social Sciences) – includes some good links on delivering information skills

The Internet Detective is now available as a Welsh language download to import into your VLE.

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Book review of Nancy Courtney (ed) Library 2.0 and beyond

Posted by andrewey on September 24, 2008

This book contains a collection of articles by academic and public librarians (from the States) on the application of a wide range of Web 2.0 tools. Each article is between 10-16 pages and covers:

  • What is Library 2.0
  • Catalog 2.0 (OPAC 2.0)
  • Being ‘where the user is’ – social networking
  • Folksonomies
  • Wikis for staff communication and internal collaboration
  • Second Life
  • Mobile technologies
  • Podcasting
  • Digital story telling
  • Video games
  • Mashups

The sheer scope of the book is very impressive considering it is only 152 pages long. The introductory chapter consists of a very balanced overview of the various conflicting definitions of Library 2.0 and whether or not the development of Libray 2.0 marks an evolutionary or revolutionary change to library services.

The chapter on wikis includes a useful discussion on how library services can use them for internal communication and internal collaboration.

I’ve been reading this book over a period of time and I came across another recent review which has taken the same approach as I intended – which is to focus on the chapters that stand out the most.

I particularly liked Michael Casey’s chapter on ‘Looking toward Catalog 2.0’ which describes the Web 2.0 features that OPACs should incorporate. As we are about to get an upgrade of our Web OPAC I’ll be interested to see how many of these features will be included:

  • Relevance ranking
  • Clean interface – a simple unclutered search facility like Google
  • Spell checker –  a prompt, as Google’s ‘Did you mean’ does, to make sure your search terms are correct  
  • Faceting – I know there will be some faceting in our upgrade but Michael suggests the ability to filter by age, level of ability, category etc
  • Full text searching
  • Book reviews – links to professional reviews and the facility for readers to add their own reviews
  • Similar searches – like Amazon the  ability to find related titles easily
  • User defined tags – so that readers can create their own tags which reflect personal search terms or popular terms
  • Share facility – the ability to send links to library resources to colleagues or fellow learners
  • RSS feeds – so that learners can set up their own notifications for new material in their chosen subject areas
  • Citation creator – something which already exists in some of our e-journal and e-book databases

Like Reflections from a small college library I also found Chris Kretz’s chapter on podcasting very informative. Chris describes the varied potential uses for a library podcast:

  • Book talks
  • Promote displays/exhibitions
  • Librarian talks
  • Create interactive library exercises
  • Deliver information skills
  • Library news
  • Cover/record live events
  • To share library policies
  • Local history – record oral history 

Chris also covers the legal and practical considerations when podcasting in some detail.

I will review some of the other chapters that I thought stand out in a later post.

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Reflections on ‘Sharing made simple’

Posted by andrewey on September 12, 2008

I attended the CyMAL Sharing Made Simple event on Wednesday at University of Wales, Newport. The event was delivered by Brian Kelly of UKOLN – Brian gave a comprehensive overview of Web 2.0 technologies and facilitated group discussions on the opportunities and barriers to introducing Web 2.0 into library, museum and archive services. Brian has also created some very good and very simple hands-on guides to adopting a range of Web 2.0 tools.

There were also a couple of case studies – Paul Bevan from the National Library of Wales gave a very interesting talk about the NLW’s moves to make its collections more accessible through wikipedia and other Web 2.0 technologies. I spoke about our Library 2.0 in FE project and in particular I plugged the Library web quest we have developed to train staff in the use of Web 2.0 tools.

There was a lot of enthusiasm towards adopting Web 2.0 tools and a range of Web 2.0 initiatives were identified as ‘low hanging fruit’ that could be introduced quickly without too much difficulty such as the use of blogs to promote services, creating a presence on social networking sites, social bookmarking to create reading lists, creating/using RSS feeds and even setting up Web 2.0 services such as a Instant Messaging reference service.

The main barrier (other than the standard issues of staff time, cost and software selection) was seen as organisational resistance in terms of issues around ownership, support and control of what would be seen as an offical, but externally hosted, web presence.

The event will be repeated at Bangor University on 24 September and is free to library staff in Wales.

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The impact of ‘helicopter’ parents on academic libraries

Posted by andrewey on September 10, 2008

There was an article in today’s GuardianUmbilical cords just got longer‘, 10 Sept 2008, about the rise of ‘helicopter’ parents after UCAS announced that parents can now become their child’s ‘agent’ when applying for university. This made me think of Meredith Farkas’ example of Rochester University, in her Building academic library 2.0 presentation, which had carried out some research that showed that students tend to consult their parents first for advice when undertaking assignments. Consequently the university library service offers a library ‘orientation breakfast’ for parents to promote the library’s services. If the Guardian article is correct in saying that this parenting trend is even more prevalent in the UK, than the US, then perhaps we should also be marketing our library services directly to parents?

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What’s he blogging about?

Posted by andrewey on September 9, 2008

I thought I would clarify the purpose of this blog after reflecting on my first couple of months or so of posts. According to my blog statistics the ‘About’ page is the second most viewed post on this blog – on it I state that I will be posting my findings on the Library/Web 2.0 CyMAL Inspiring Learning project I’m engaged in. This probably needs some expansion as in fact my blog is being used to evaluate different types of blog post and how those posts are received. I would group my posts so far into the following types:

1. News items – originally regarded as one of the primary functions of a blog but I’ve only used this blog to pass on information I have come across (or I’m privy to) which may be of interest to other (FE) librarians.

2. Reflective journal – the original function of this blog was as a reflective account of the Library Web 2.0 Quest that the Coleg Llandrillo staff are currently engaged in. 

3. Book reviews – the college library staff are keen to promote virtual reading groups and to post book reviews (and have discussions) on the books read. My book reviews have been more specifically aimed at being a literature review of Library/Web 2.0.

4. Testing Web 2.0 tools – ‘playing’ with web 2.0 tools is I think one of the key learning experiences in terms of developing Library 2.0 (or specifically Librarian 2.0). It was commented externally that my screencast post was simply ‘look here’s what I can do with a Web 2.0 tool’ – in fact that was partly its purpose but it was meant to be ‘look here’s what anyone can do with this Web 2.0 tool’.

5. Applying Web 2.0 tools – at the end of the day it is what you do with the Web 2.0 tool that matters, so I hope to blog about practical application of Web 2.0 tools such as my ‘Ten uses for a FE library service blog‘ post.

6. Reviewing best practice – I’ve tried to refer to and comment on best practice in Library 2.0. However, as a source of information on best practice I’ve preferred the use of wikis (see the Library 2.0 in FE and Library 2.0 in Wales wikis I’ve started).

7. Staff development – I would like to promote staff development in the area of Web 2.0 by blogging about events and training issues/skills in relation to Librarian 2.0. This has been supplemented by the Library Web Quest created by a colleague at Coleg Llandrillo.

8. Scholarly activity – another key aim of the blog was to engage with current thinking on Library 2.0 by commenting on various theories of Library/Librarian 2.0. Within FE there is a difficulty with engaging with scholarly activity in its more traditional forms in terms of published academic research. Instead scholarly activity in FE has been more loosely defined – see Rob Jones (2006) ‘Scholarly activity on the context of HE in FE‘ and John Widdows (2003) ‘HE in FE and scholarly activity: a discussion paper, which makes blogs a good way for FE teaching staff to engage in such activities.

9. To blog on contentious issues – this is more challenging in that I wanted the blog to remain relatively impartial although I’m keen to develop a coherent stand on what Library 2.0 is. I will steer clear of genuinely controversial issues (whilst doing the project) but I did put in the post about library fines to test the water in terms of trying to find out which contentious issues librarians will comment upon.

10. Professional activity – by this I mean how Web 2.0 can support traditional library activities such as Reader Development or Information Literacy. This also ties in neatly with the Applications of ICT in Libraries course that I deliver.

11. Reviewing and promoting events – the blog seemed an ideal way of commenting on and widening the discussion in relation to ideas that I pick up from events/conferences that I attend.

12. Share research findings – the primary aim of this blog, although as yet other than the survey of teaching staff post the project has only generated anecdotal evidence, although the great advantage of the ILFA framework, that we are using to evaluate the project, is that it is very good at capturing and coding this anecdotal evidence.

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Librarian 2.0 skill set

Posted by andrewey on August 21, 2008

So what skills should Librarian 2.0 possess? David Lee King has compiled a list of mainly technical competencies that library staff should acquire to become Librarian 2.0. Most of these can be acquired fairly easily and quickly by staff following a Learning 2.0 or Web quest programme so it is certainly not the case that library services should be put off developing Web 2.0 services because of a lack of staff expertise.

The skills listed require, in the most part, only a rudimentary knowledge of the technologies eg making blog posts, explaining RSS, uploading files. The only higher level skills are a fairly basic knowledge of HTML, which staff with any experience in writing web pages probably already have, and the creation of multimedia content. Even without any prior knowledge of HTML staff can quickly pick up a working knowledge by following free online tutorials or a text book. Most staff are probably familiar with digital photography even if they have not used editing software (which as mentioned in earlier posts does not have to be that sophisticated).

It is in the less tangible skills that David Lee King identifies that the real strengths of Librarian 2.0 reside ie knowing how Web 2.0 services can be applied to a library service, understanding how they can be used to compliment traditional services and how to ‘tell the library’s story’ through a variety of media. These skills can be learnt by enabling staff to experiment with Web 2.0 technologies to see how they work, how they can be used in a library context and how to enhance library services through the use of multimedia. I would argue that it is only through experimenting with Web 2.0 tools that their library potential will become apparent.

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Book review of Library 2.0: a guide to participatory library service

Posted by andrewey on August 18, 2008

In Library 2.0: a guide to participatory library service Michael Casey and Laura Savastinuk outline how to develop a Library 2.0 culture in your library service. In fact Michael Casey is credited with coining the term Library 2.0 on his Library crunch blog in 2005 and is therefore one of the authoritative voices on this subject. Both authors have backgrounds in the American public library sector in Georgia but their Library 2.0 philosophy is easily transferable to other sectors. Library 2.0 is seen as a response to the serious challenges faced by (some) library services, as outlined in the introduction (p. xxiv):

  • Loss of interest amongst library users in our services
  • We no longer consistently provide services that our users want
  • Reluctance amongst some library services to move away from traditional services
  • We are no longer the first port of call for information enquiries

These points seem to portray an overly pessimistic view of the state of library services and I would suspect that most proactive library services were already responding to changes in the pattern of library usage long before the rise of Library 2.0. However there is certainly a need for all library services to engage in a process of ongoing (re-)evaluation of their services. Casey and Savastinuk see the solution to the problems listed above in the creation of a ‘participatory’ library service (p. 5) which encompasses user input and feedback in the delivery of library services. Furthermore, Library 2.0 services need to embrace a culture of change which must continue to meet the needs of existing users whilst attracting non-traditional (and other) non-users.  

The authors cover ‘traditional’ as well as technological (Web 2.0) solutions to these issues. For example, they highlight the significance of developing libraries as social spaces – we have done this in our library by relaxing restrictions on food and drink and by encouraging social activities (eg boardgames) and through the creation of informal reading/browsing  areas, which have contributed to our library usage figures almost doubling in the 2007/8 academic year.

In developing a culture of change the authors stress the importance of ‘purposeful change’ which entails the constant evaluation of services both vertically and horizontally i.e. by cutting across staff roles and procedures (pp 12-14). This state of constant evaluation is designed to avoid the tendency for library services to fully develop and plan services only for them to quickly become sidelined and any beneficial outcomes are soon lost – the ‘Plan, implement and forget’ syndrome.

One area of Library 2.0 which is clearly explained is the concept of meeting the patron’s long tail. This is a business model of the supply of books, music and other media where there is significant demand for esoteric titles which is not met by high street suppliers who concentrate on titles on bestseller lists. This gap in the market is seen as an ideal niche for libraries to meet (in fact evidence suggests that the market for titles outside the bestseller lists is actually greater in total owing to the sheer volume of titles available). However, as the authors point out, some 206,000 book titles were published in 2005 in the UK alone (p. 64) so how could any library service hope to supply even a small fraction of those titles? I would argue that the long tail model is reflected in academic libraries in the debate over whether or not our collections policy should concentrate on providing core texts or on providing titles to ‘read around’ a subject. In FE the tendency has probably been towards the core titles as the demand for these is so high but at Coleg Llandrillo we have found that by participating in our free local inter-lending scheme (LINC y Gogledd) we have begun to meet the long tail demand as well. In fact our inter-library loans have increased six fold in two years and this trend is likely to increase as more titles become freely available to our borrowers through the Cat Cymru project.

Casey and Savastinuk define a responsive library service as being one which (p. 21):

  • listens to customer suggestions
  • is willing to look at new serivces (based on customer demand)
  • is proactive in anticipating customer demand and responding to customer concerns 

In response to the usual concerns over staff time, cost and lack of expertise the authors propose looking at existing services to evaluate whether or not they offer value for money in terms of staff time and other costs. Here there seems to be considerable scope for more library co-operation across a range of services which can be facilitated by Web 2.0 technologies to reduce these costs. 

The book does not cover the use Web 2.0 tools in any detail – only one chapter looks at this area which includes a small number of well chosen examples. It does however offer clear and sound advice on implementing Library 2.0 and this is encapsulated in the authors’ open letter to library directors (p. 40) outlining ten simple steps to making the transition to Library 2.0. The title is very readable and offers clear guidance on how to develop Library 2.0 (in only 172 pages). The title is also well priced at $29.50 (retailing for about £22.00 in the UK). I would certainly recommend this title to anyone looking for a clear and concise introduction to Library 2.0.

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Book review of Meredith Farkas’ Social software in libraries

Posted by andrewey on August 11, 2008

As well as reviewing online sources I’m also going to post book reviews on titles relating to Library 2.0.

Given that I’ve already mentioned the work of Meredith Farkas I thought I would start with her book, Social software in libraries. The book is not about the theory of Library 2.0 but instead offers practical (not just technical) advice on the use of Web 2.0 technologies, with a good range of real world examples. Only in the discussion of libraries as the ‘third place’ (ie as a possible social space away from home and work) does the work touch on definitions of Library 2.0.

The book does however provide an excellent overview of Web 2.0 technologies and explains clearly how these tools can be used in a library context. Despite Meredith’s background as an academic librarian the book contains examples drawn from a variety of sectors (although of course the examples are from North America). More importantly there is a Social software in libraries website to support the book with further case studies.

The book is very readable and offers a concise explanation of the technologies in a style easily accessible to a non-technical audience. The book contains 320 pages divided into 16 chapters – usually with a single chapter devoted to each specific Web 2.0 technology (except for blogs which get two chapters owing to their prevalence). There are chapters on Mobile technology, video gaming and screencasts (a Web 2.0 tool I’m currently testing), as well as chapters on standard Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, social networks etc.

I would highly recommend this title, it is a shame that the cover price of $39.50 is not reflected in the price of the book in the UK (which is usually around £39.50).

Other titles I intend to review are:

Please recommend (or review) any good titles on Library 2.0 or Web 2.0 using the comments facility.

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Building FE Library 2.0

Posted by andrewey on August 7, 2008

In an earlier post I said I would return to the points raised in Meredith Farkas’ presentation Building Academic Library 2.0 to discuss the issues involved in implementing Library 2.0 and applying these to a FE context. So what does Meredith suggest implementing Library 2.0 entails (which she does from the perspective of service delivery rather than from a purely technical angle)?

1 Firstly, you need to know your users. This is particularly difficult in FE where our learners are so varied both in terms of educational needs (from adults with learning difficulties through to postgraduates) and in terms of demographics. To do this Meredith says you need to ask your users what they value rather than what you value ie to avoid reverting to the ‘librarian knows best’ stereotype of Library 1.0.

2 You need to question everything ie in terms of re-examining the tenets of library work. I think there is a need to re-evaluate our priorities (as an FE library service) to move away from traditional concerns to recognising the challenges of making our services better suited to supporting the needs of learners and to embracing new technologies as a way of better engaging with our users.

3 Make material more accessible. As Meredith points out, this does not have to be a technological solution. In north Wales we have an interlending scheme LINC y Gogledd which currently links 5 local authority public library services, two FE colleges and Bangor University. This scheme enables personal borrowing, ie our learners can borrow directly from the university, as well as inter library loans. You are able to search the catalogues of 6 of the library services from a single URL. With the development of CatCymru you will soon be able to search all the library catalogues in Wales using a single (federated) search engine.

4 Move the library ‘website’ to spaces where our users are eg Facebook or other social networks. The rise of library blogs, wikis and pages on social networking sites etc suggests this is well under way in some library sectors although not very well advanced in FE I suspect. In FE our main priority is probably to ensure a high profile for the library service on the college’s VLE and website.

5 We need to consider the technology have nots – an important issue in FE where many learners may not have access to a PC at home. Again there is scope to work with public libraries here to promote their free internet access to encourage greater social inclusion. In addition, technology should not be used for its own sake – we need to consider what advantages Web 2.0 tools offer over conventional forms of delivering/supporting our service.

6 Build a learning culture amongst all library staff. This is particularly important when implementing web 2.0 tools so provide all staff with hands on experience of using these tools (as with our library Web Quest) and give them permission and time to try out new technologies.

7 Share information. As Meredith highlights, we are not, in the main, subject experts so make use of the expertise of teaching staff (and learners) in collaborative exercises, for which Web 2.0 tools are ideally suited, such as creating subject blogs or wikis.

8 Finally, good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. The challenge is to create mechanisms to capture them – which is an area of the use of Web 2.0 technologies I intend to investigate as part of our Inspiring Learning project. The corollary of this challenge, as Meredith highlights, is the ability to be responsive and innovative. Here FE may be at an advantage, because we are probably more used to a culture of (rapid) change than some other library sectors. Certainly FE library services seem to have more autonomy to implement change quickly, compared to the more rigid structures prevalent in other library sectors.

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Ten uses for a FE library service blog

Posted by andrewey on August 1, 2008

Blogs are one of the most versatile Web 2.0 tools that you can deploy in your library service. Here are ten simple uses for a blog that any FE library service could utilise. Not only are these functions simple to set up but they are also free!

1 Marketing – blogs are a great way to promote the library service and raise awareness of what you are doing. Blogs are particularly useful in that they make good RSS feeds in to other applications such as your College VLE, Athens homepage etc which further raises the profile of the service.

2 Virtual suggestion box – blogs are an excellent way to generate feedback on the library service and it enables you to publicise what you are doing about any issues raised.

3 Current awareness services/ Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) services – this is a popular use of blogs in HE where a faculty/subject librarian sets up a blog to raise awareness of resources in a particular subject area. Examples of subject blogs from HE include the Open University, University College London and Birbeck, University of London. In FE you can just do this on the one blog with categories for each subject area (as we have done at Coleg Llandrillo).

4 Reader Development activities – this could include virtual reading groups, book reviews and links to national promotions.

5 Book requests – blogs offer a simple means for staff and, particularly, learners to make stock requests to the library.

6 As a discussion forum – particularly with staff/learners at other institutions. On our blog there was a discussion about whether or not wikis are legitimate sources for students to cite in references – the debate was started by a librarian from another college.

7 Promote/host staff or student work – our blog has featured photographs taken by teaching staff (and library staff)

8 Reflective journal – a good educational use but also a useful way for library staff to feedback on training they have undertaken (see my Web Quest posts)

9 Reference service – many libraries are using Instant Messaging for this, but where this software is restricted, as is often the case in FE, blogs make a good alternative. We have added an ‘Ask a librarian’ page to our blog.

10 News items – (the main function of a blog) a way of keeping library users up to date. Blogs are very useful for posting ad hoc arrangements eg vacation opening hours and the like. These can be posted quickly and are readily accessible off campus (and via RSS feeds).

As part of our Inspiring Learning Web 2.0 project I will evaluate how effective each of these uses has been in the case of our library blog. I will post my findings (on this blog) towards the end of the 2008/9 academic year.

If you are using library blogs in other ways please leave a comment.

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