Friday, March 28, 2008

#54 Bookjetty - your books, your libraries!

I became familiar with Bookjetty at the VALA conference this year when Singapore's Schubert Foo mentioned this home-grown tool in his keynote address. I was immediately struck by the difference between Bookjetty and other book sites, namely that you could search library catalogues as well as bookshops. I set myself the post-conference task of looking into it properly and seeing if we could get Boroondara's catalogue up on the site. Well, we succeeded in that and our users can now use Bookjetty to search our library catalogue (along with others) and easily link to the site to place a reservation.

LibraryThing also now has access to library catalogues for searching. They weren't able to do this last time I used them, but I did say they were going from strength to strength! Thanks to Casey from LibraryThing for pointing this out to me. However, the standout thing for me about Bookjetty from the minute I saw it demonstrated by Dr Foo was the federated searching capability. At Bookjetty, you select your favourite libraries from a list and your item will be searched for on these simultaneously, rather than you having to go to each catalogue. As three of Boroondara's neighbouring libraries, Stonnington, Monash and Darebin, are now accessible via Bookjetty, this provides a useful local federated search facility. It will be interesting to see how Bookjetty continues to develop.

#53 Litlovers - a well read online community

Litlovers is a fun site, and one that I can see being useful not just for providing information for people wanting to set up a bookclub but also of general use for personal book knowledge and for readers' advising.

I wasn't feeling very creative so I checked out the site's suggested books for the month. There were three and I chose Geraldine Brooks' People of the book as I had been talking about it over Easter and want to read it. From there, a quick look at the resources section showed that four of her books have notes: March, Nine parts of desire, People of the book, and Year of Wonders. Thus the reader was provided with info about a number of titles to allow a more detailed study of her work. I looked at People of the book in detail and was provided with a summary of the book, biographical data about Geraldine Brooks and links to an interview and lots of critics' remarks about the work. All of this seemed to provide me with a good start for a discussion - now I just need to reserve the book!

I also checked out the LitCourse section and enrolled in the first course which was about romantic fiction, not because I was particularly interested, but because I like starting at the beginning! It provided a useful introduction and discussion points about the two extracts being looked at. One criticism I had was that the course seemed a bit black and white about the answers, whereas I was more interested in being discursive and could easily argue pros and cons of situations. From this you can see that I got some "wrong" and disagree. There are ten courses covering characterization, plot, setting (important for the romance novel - I learnt that!!), irony, symbolism, and other topics.

I could probably live without the produce available at the LitShop and a lot of the LitFun, but I liked the idea of looking up recipes to suit the setting you were reading in. That is a clever idea. I checked out the Greek page and found a few favourites (much more than in the I'm cooked site previously discussed, though the US names for Greek favourites in Litlovers made me wonder whether another search on I'm cooked mightn't find some?). These recipes appeared to be linked to countries, so if I wanted an accompaniment to Ellis Peters' Cadfael series or Georgette Heyer's regency novels I'd be pushing my luck. But maybe historical recipes will come later. Likewise the film adaptations list was pretty short but calling for input.

This is a great site and will, no doubt, continue to grow in strength!

#52 Clip the highlights with Clipmarks!

While it is still just March it is good to be getting onto the March Things and feeling like I will soon catch up with the PLCMC people. It is particularly special to be doing the Australian March things that we have written ourselves! How exciting it has been for Fiona and me to participate in this program from afar! That really brings out the universality of the web and how it makes everyone closer. Only one more thing to go for us! I do hope they let us have another go later ;>)

As stated in the Learning 2.1 blog, Clipmarks really, really is my current favourite Web 2.0 tool. It is so great to be able to save all those articles that come my way through Bloglines and also any websites that catch my eye. They are all saved in full text (or abridged as it takes my fancy) rather than just with a url which will require me to open it before reading. And who knows whether the url will still be current?

I have used Bloglines for a while to clip stuff, and while you can sort into subject folders it is just the url. Likewise I have played with Furl and eSnips (which I was really looking at in relation to online File storage and as a replacement for the ill-fated Omnidrive). The good thing about Bloglines snipping is that you can stay in Bloglines to do it and when you have finished you are taken right back to where you were. However, I like the full text potential of Clipmarks.

I have had Clipmarks linked to my Facebook profile and access to my Clipcasts there since I first started using it. Yesterday because I wanted also to place some news clips on the Boroondara Facebook page (and you can't add news clips to Facebook pages, only to profiles), I set up a new blog, From the news desk, linked my Clipmarks to that blog in Blogger (you have the choice of inputting multiple blogs and can select which you want to send particular clips to), and then fed the blog into the My blogs feed on the Boroondara Facebook page. Voila! Newsclips there! And I love Clipmarks even more! It's a slightly circuitous work-around but it works for me!

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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