Thursday, March 27, 2008

#51 Libraries and the social web a hot topic

Libraries and the social web is certainly a hot topic. If for example you do a browse through Facebook pages (ie not personal profiles but organizational pages) you will get over 500 hits with the word library in the name! There are also groups on Facebook which are library-based.

It was interesting to run through Jessica Hupp's 25 useful social networking tools for librarians and to realize that, whilst I don't use all of them, there were very few that I was not aware of. I took the opportunity to look at a few that I wasn't aware of: LinkedIn (a site for linking professionals), TeacherTube (a YouTube for teachers), Footnote (a history site which is very US based), Community Walk (a mapping tool for history talks etc), and DaftDoggy. Of these, Community Walk was one that I felt could be useful for family and local history and I made a mental note to go back and try it.

If I think about the City of Boroondara Library Service in relation to the tools mentioned and how we are using them. I do think that we are starting to get somewhere. We made a decision to set up profiles/pages on Facebook, Bebo (not mentioned here but very big in the UK), and MySpace in an effort to cover most bases in terms of age groups. The Facebook has been up and running for a while and the challenge there seems to be to work out ways of linking the page into other applications, Web 2.0 or otherwise, as it seems very different from how you do it on a personal profile. We have just set up Bebo, and MySpace is still a work in progress. We have been focussing in these sites on general information and news about the library service and particularly in promoting events. The next stage needs to be putting the links on the website, and adding applications that will encourage interaction such as reviewing.

Number three is Ning and at Boroondara we have three nings: a general staff ning, a training ning for learning 2.1 and an embryonic local history one focussing on Hawthorn's history. I belong to a number of other nings as do a number of Boroondara staff. With nings, I am coming to the conclusion that they are great for staff but I am not sure that they provide the tool I want for community interaction, hence the stagnation of the Hawthorn history ning.

Four is blogging. The City of Boroondara Library Service has had a staff blog for some time, though a limited number of people use it and we have found that more seem to be attracted to the nings. We have also finally got a library blog developed for the public and this is fed into our Facebook page and hopefully the link will be on the website soon. The Town Gallery and Art Nerds blogs are linked now, so hopefully ours will be soon. At present we only have the one library blog that covers the whole spectrum of library services, though we will probably develop a local history specific one. Outside work I have been working on a blog for the Collingwood Historical Society and this one is integrated in the website. I have also set up another blog, From the news desk, which enables me to post clippings relating to books and libraries to the blog and thence to the Facebook page.

Meebo is five and we have done some experimentation about using this for enquiry in wikis; it could be installed on the blog(s), Facebook, Bebo, on wikis and hopefully in Spydus on the "no hits" page. Before that can be achieved however work will need to be done with the organization about the ability to load such tools on the Council network.

Twittering is number seven: a number of staff Twitter, follow each other's tweets, have links from blogs to Twitter, links from Facebook etc. We have been following some libraries and their Twittering and will shortly set up a library Twitter account which in the first instance will be linked to the library blogs via Twitterfeed. This is another way of getting out into people's spaces.

We have an embryonic Flickr account for the City of Boroondara Library Service (tool 8) and need to do some serious work loading images on to it. Whilst we are using Wetpaint as the platform and not PBwiki as favoured by tool 13, we do have two experimental wikis, one general one and another specifically relating to the Hotels of Boroondara.

Many of the other tools mentioned in the list (or related ones) are used by City of Boroondara Library Service staff, either in their work or play. It is certainly an exciting time to be working in public libraries with all these possibilities for interacting with our users.

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