In all this arguing over the value or otherwise of the Web 2.0 meme, I've almost lost track of what is really important - how Web 2.0 ideas are being implemented in The Real World. I came across a great post by Michael Casey of LibraryCrunch, who is investigating what the Library 2.0 Web site will look like. He pointed to Michael Stephens' round-up of responses to that question, which are well worth perusing. I liked this one from Sarah Houghton, from Marin County Public Library and the Librarian in Black blog:
"The next generation small public library website will be moving up to the same level the larger public library websites are at now: blogs, RSS feeds, dynamic reading/watching/listening lists, lots of online forms, with links to some user-friendly and computer-friendly lightweight virtual reference options (like instant messaging)."
I have to admit I'm a big library user, so if my local library gets the functionality Sarah outlined - I will be one happy geek!
To tie this up in a nice package, Jenny told the PL Track yesterday that users are going to expect some types of interactivity on web sites -- including the public library. Don't think that's it's just a geek thing -- it will be everyone!
The group assembled for the first presentation of the Public Libraries and Technology Track at Internet Librarian 2005 totally rock. If you are attending the conference, don't miss this one because hot trends in web design apply to all types of libraries!
In addition, the topic of web redesign is HOT right now. This press release points out some fascinating statistics.
In planning for the presentation, I emailed the panelists a question. Because Michael Casey's Library Crunch (add him to your aggregator now, I'll wait) is one of my favorite reads these days, I asked the panelists this question:
What does the Library 2.0 Web site look like?
Glenn Peterson, Hennepin County Public Library
"Hi Michael, (I just heard Stephen Abram talk at our library so I may be WWUI (writing while under the influence):
Next generation library websites will meet users' increasingly complex information needs by developing tools that allow users to refine their information seeking in ways that produce highly relevant search results. Libraries will develop more sophisticated federated search tools that highlight the resources in their physical and virtual collections. They will develop online pathfinders on high-interest topics (e.g. how do I start a new business?) And they will find ways for librarians to continue to support users in the virtual information-seeking environment."
David King, Kansas City Public Library, & Dave's Blog
The next generation public library website should be considered a destination, just like the physical library building is currently a destination. As a destination, the website should:
- provide original content (ebooks, articles, encyclopedia entries, local history content)
- provide support content (database and catalog tipsheets, calendar of events, library news, phone numbers)
- provide community content (community calendar types of things)
- provide staff/customer interaction (comments area, question area, ask a reference area) uisng chat, IM,
email, phone, and mailing address
- provide customer/customer interaction (online blook clubs, customer-based reader's advisory [Amazon.com model]
- provide traditional library services like library catalog and databases
- Do all this for specific customer target areas (Seniors, Adults, Kids, Teens, etc)
Sarah Houghton, Marin County Public Library, & Librarian in Black
The next generation small public library website will be moving up to the same level the larger public library websites are at now: blogs, RSS feeds, dynamic reading/watching/listening lists, lots of online forms, with links to some user-friendly and computer-friendly lightweight virtual reference options (like instant messaging).
John Blyberg, Ann Arbor District Library
The others really gave a good summation of the type of content we can expect to be available on library websites. What we provide is really going to depend on where the chips fall after the RIAA and MPAA finish going through their withdrawals and settle on a business model that works for them. Laser-etched plastic is not the future, but audio/visual content is what patron's demand.
In the meantime, good public library sites are going to be the ones that do two things well. First, they need to generate content that is attributed to the library. Second, they need to pull together existing information in new and interesting ways in a manner that makes the web site itself an extention of the library's information store. That way, the website is only a component of a library's offerings.
I shared this link with my class at Dominican:
Via Jakob Nielsen, there are many gems here. Pay attention to the "Writing for the Web" bit.
David King shared this with me via IM: this is the current front page for Kansas City Public Library. I applaud the folks behind this change! What this means to me is that KCPL is very aware of presenting timely, important information to their community. Not only are they linking to places to donate, but they are promoting library services as well with the "The Library Can Help" link. Just the text of the image implies the library is a clearinghouse for information, referral and support.
KCPL, my hat is off to you!
(Bold is mine for emphasis!)
Library Circulation Surpasses 3 Million
Last year we announced that items circulated during the 2003-04 year passed the 2 million mark. This year, we circulated just over 3 million items. This new circulation record represents a 33% increase and the highest annual percentage of increase in the Library's history.
We are also experiencing growth in other key areas. Our buildings were visited 1.3 million times, an 8% increase. Attendance at programs increased 14%, over 51,000, and more individuals used library computers than ever before...223,000 logins represent a 37% increase over last year.
The need to expand our space and adapt to the needs and interests of the community is clear. Let us know what you need from the Library.
This comes from the Director's blog at Ann Arbor. If you click through a dialogue begins within the comments on the post. It's telling: a library user can state opinion, ask questions and receive a response from the director.
Shouldn't all public libraries be sending this message: Let us know what you need from the Library.
In my book, David King is at the top of the heap for all things related to the creation of user-centered, usable, friendly and, yes, HOT library web sites..here's his review of AADL:
He's fair..and he points out some strengths and weaknesses... AND awards cups of coffee! Thanks David...
Most interesting bit to me:
"Hopefully, more people will become hip to the fact that many library services, not only databases, are accessible without having to go to the library building." Gary Price
I like this statement for a couple of reasons:
We really need to shift our thinking from our physical libraries. Now before you get irked at me: I'm not saying forget the building, I'm saying balance services between a strong Web presence and a physical space that draws folks in, from Boomers to Gamers and back again.
Second it's indicative that services are changing and those librarians who are stuck in the mindset that we serve the people who physically come to the library FIRST need to get a grip! For example, I received this email from a librarian struggling with implementing IM:
"At my library, there is the fundamental moral belief that a patron who comes to the library, finds a parking space and stands at the desk deserves more and better service than the lazier one who calls. Forget about the laziest one who contacts you online. There is the concept that they will always put a call on hold to answer the person at the desk, even if they are in the middle of helping the caller. These people (and it is at least 50% of our staff) don't want to help people online. Period. This is where I'm stuck. Yes, I probably can just drag them through this and make them, but I so want them to see the light, and most importantly, have fun."
Sakes people! I would be horrified if one of our librarians put a call on hold to jump to an in person question. We take 'em as they come. I offered the following to the above emailer: guide them gently into training and make that training fun with role-palying via IM and question sets, give them some good articles ("Born with the Chip" "IM Me" (sorry shameless plug)) and show them all the libraries doing good things with all kinds of services: IM, jybe, RSS, etc.
Try this on: http://www.lib.unc.edu/reference/imalibrariandavis.html to see an IMing library in action!
Here's a great list in response to my own:
Rock On Librarian in Black - these are effective steps EVERY LIBRARY should be taking!
Includes built in Skype capability and more! Sadly, no version yet for my Mac! :-(
At IOLUG, Glenn peterson was the keynoter. He spoke about hos Hennepin Co. PL updated, improved and planned their web presence. Some of his cool points:
The Web Team had lots of support from library administration - realizing it is a very important service to users!
HCPL has 5.3 million visitis to Web site per year!
"E-mail This" is an option on Computer class pages so folks can send a reminder to themselves
RSS feeds are everywhere!!!
Teen Pages with user book reviews, etc gives teens a sense of ownership with the web site. Encourgae interaction/dialog. HOT!
The catalog is the number one thing people use when they come to the site
"Search the Catalog" became "Find a Good Book" in their listing. This intrigues me!
Here's a blurry (sorry) shot of his slide comparing the most visited Web pages of the site in 2003 and 2005, after incorporating more synergy with the catalog. Note that periodical list dropped off because it was incorporated into other areas of the site! I hope Glenn puts up his full presentation!
My talk Friday afternoon was about marketing library services via the web -- creating effective PRESENCE -- so here are ten methods to enhance your library's place in the community: online and in person. These are steps you can take to reach your users - wherever they are - using some new technologies as tools for new services.
#1 Design for Your Users
#2 IM with Users and Ponder JYBE
#3: Blog your Stuff
#4: Podcast Rich Content
#5: Utilize RSS
#6: Ponder a wiki
#7: Utilize Image Sites
#8: Offer a Toolbar
#9: Local Flavor Rules
#10: Be Discoverable
Put your cool stuff in the catalog
Rethink the Library Web Cam
Ponder video chat reference (it's on the way)
Stay up to date with new formats, delivery of content and future trends
Never miss a chance to promote your library and its services -- even if you happen to be undressed! At the gym this am, a fellow asked me about wifi at SJCPL. I was glad to give him some info, invite him to any location to try it out and praised his use of a Macintosh PowerBook!
The other part of this story: I never miss a chance to talk tech.
In the all together, I settled into the whirlpool tub in our locker room after exercising. The fellow across from me (also in the all together) greets me and says "How do you like your iPod Shuffle?"
"Let me tell ya.." I say.
OH! How cool are these Ten Things that Dave King pointed to before the Holidays.
Libraries really need to get a grip on some of these collaborative tools: IM, RSS, Wikis, etc!
But, Michael, you say, how can I get started? What can I do at my small to medium-sized library about all this techie stuff?
Good question. Here's what I would do:
ATTENTION LIBRARY DIRECTORS
If you haven't already designated staff to be in charge of Web development, communication and technology-based services, do so NOW. You, dear director, don't have to know about all of this stuff but someone you trust in the organization should. Someone who understands the role technology should play, the ROI on projects and someone with an eye toward the future.
That person, in turn, should:
Read some of the cool library blogs out there and monitor sites like LISNews to keep up on what's happening. Read journals and books too!
Be in close contact with the library's systems folk and keep them on your side. Communicate.
Attend tech conferences and learn: don't hide behind a Hilton pad taking notes that never see the light of day but talk to people, ask questions and take the important bits back to your library.
Be responsible for statistics of use: web, databases, hits to the library blog, etc and make reports that illustrate what is working and what is nit. Numbers = ROI = good decision making.
Understand technology is a tool to meet the needs of our users..not an end to itself (Thank you Sandra Nelson!)