Thursday, September 14, 2006

#15 Library 2.0 - More Than Teen Gaming Night

There are several Web 2.0 technologies that I can see libraries incorporating with a little help from their vendors. If vendors deceide to not offer them they should at least make their products to where the library itself can add these features. For the library catalog these technology features include: built-in RSS feeds for keyword searches and popular groupings such as new feature films, user tagging with outdisrupting the original subject headers on the collection, and the ability for user commenting and ratings on books and articles. Comments and tags one patron adds will help the next one looking for the same topic. Library vendors could also adopt the features of and Google of interest to patrons. You could have personalized catalog logins where patrons can add these features to their "My Library Catalog". Give them a place to list their favorite titles, authors and genres and be able to share it with others. Library users should be able to use these resources inside or outside the library.

A great example is the Endeca-based NC State catalog. I got a chance to hear about it from from a presentation by Andrew Pace, Head of Systems at NCSU at the Spring 2006 ANCHASL Meeting.They took their old Dynix catalog and dumped it into Endeca. Endeca offers the ability to choose from numerous ways to navigate. It offers reference linking and next generation multisearch. You can limit by document type or browse the the entire collection by call number. It has an automatic citation builder that is available in various styles. It even has automatic spell check similar to Google's "did you mean this" feature. Librarians can create a Q&A on the fly and add to the library FAQ.

If the library offers in-house resources such as websites then these could also have RSS feeds, user access points for the submission of reviews, assignment of keywords (“tagging”), addition of scholarly commentary, and other forms of user participation. A good example of this is the Reader's Club website.

Also the library will want to plan content for the new communication services that are available today. These include: graphics tablets, Ipods & MP3 players, smart phones, PDA's, E-book readers, smart watches, and Blackberries. Patrons will get excited if you have content for their new gadget. Incorporating Web 2.0 technologies in the library will help provide content for these devices. Examples of how libraries are using Web 2.0 tools that I've read about include:

-a public information blog for library news, events & discussion of community needs
-a story-time Podcast for younger patrons
-using Flickr to photoshare library events
-creating a Wiki-style town history where residents can browse a list of historic homes and adding their memories to the public record with a simple Web form
-wikis for genealogists
-wikis for local information
-wikis to pool library information and standards
-blogs for internal library communication--library managers blog, reference blog, branch blog, circulation blog, library teams blog, IT communications with library staff blog, etc.
-An internal library PC and server inventory wiki.
-Voice and Video over IP for digital meetings when travel is difficult
-pushing content via RSS
-content creation resouces for patrons to record podcasts and develop digital videos
-interlibrary loan (ILL) purchase-on-demand from online used-book retailers
-open source wiki software to create a successful subject guide that facilitates customer feedback
-personalization of library web pages
-allowing customers to call impromptu book talks or discussion groups
-offering collaborative online MS Office alternative resources such as Writely and Writeboard, 37 Signals products - Basecamp, Backpack, and Ta-da Lists and Microsoft Office Live
-instant messaging reference services
-downloadable music, video, and audiobook services
-an iPod Shuffle loan program
-podcast of a teen band competition at the library
-podcasts for library classes and grand tours of the library

If we use Web 2.0 technology between library staff first and get comfortable with it then we can use it with our patrons and market the library.

You might say, "Wow, Library 2.0 is is all that and a bag of chips but what about the future?"

I really enjoyed Dr. Wendy Schultz's article To a temporary place in time... the best out of the 5 perspectives in the OCLC Next Space Newsletter article Web 2.0 : Where will the next generation Web take libraries?. I think about what the the Joker said in Batman.."Think about the future, the future, the future..." It will transform and change us but also give us our special place where we can be in that fantasy zen zone for the mind--that place of wonder and exploration as a child--that we are all desperately trying to get back to when the world turned serious and growing up meant putting toys aside. I kind of equate it with moving from childrens resources with pictures and whizbang features like popups gizmos and textures to adult resources with boring text only. Yes it looks serious and authoritative. But who wants to read that? I'd much rather take the Japanese manga approch and have textbooks and manuals in picture format. They claim that learning is so much better. You absorb much more and the information is interesting. And that is really what we want. Information retrieval that is easy, pleasing to the eye, and facinating but with authority and expertise and a librarian guide to lead us to what we want with options--but not too many or we get information overload.

This librarian guide can be seen in person or online in 3D as an avatar in a virtual representation of the library. Each librarian has their subject specialties. When in a branch there is always one librarian that is the "go to" source for a particular topic be it scrapbooking or starting a business or travel tips. Patrons will collect trading cards on their favorite librarians and pass them on to other users. (Psst-Dude..check out this librarian...she pwns. Check her out if you need info on anything!)

But don't stop there! Create the library environment you have always wanted and integrate it with the virtual world. The virtual reality game Second Life has been host to many dual events online and live on location. Check out Jonathan Fildes article : BBC starts to rock online world. I can see the same thing happening in libraries. Library programming can be sent to the online game and show up on a video monitor for all avatars ingame to see. This would also be vice versa. If an event is going on in Second Life, all inside the library could see what is going on. Like satellite broadcasts of an event that has sold out in a stadium. Now those on the outside can see the show after all. No need to fight scalpers for tickets! about the Novello festival in Second Life?

And finally, make the library where you want to be in real life. Take a look at the OCLC Newsletter article Staying in the game! : How to create environments for Boomers and Gamers in your library especially the section Zone in on your users. People play virtual reality games to be in that fantasy zone where they want to live, create, and express themselves. Make it so in the library too. I want a library that partners with private vendors to offer a Starbucks Coffee/ Tea House type environment that everyone wants to be in. I want a community space thats buzzing with programming hipness and sound proof areas for quiet study to reach that "zen" state of lifelong learning. I want good natural lighting, plenty of windows, and comforable chairs. Take that zen feeling and make an enclosed Japanese style tea garden or an outdoor cafe. Have access to porches that open onto an arboretum with picnic benches and electrical outlets on the outside. I want all of that plus an information hub that is second to none. If I want to learn how to paint I can find it--online or with a guidebook and have access to digital tools to create on the spot. If I want to understand how DNA makes the world go round I should be able to find it at home, at work, or wherever I am. If the library doesn't have a book I want, I would like to walk over to a bookmaker machine, type in the ISBN and the machine prints it in 15 minutes--cataloged and ready to check out. Libraries can become the new star attraction that will put a city on the map. Make it something that every visitor will put on their "must see and do" list. Golden Gate Bridge, check, Broadway musical, check, Seattle Public Library, check, Salt Lake City Public Library, check...

So when are we going to have video games for checkout like Blockbuster? Patience young Padawan.


HeleneB said...

Wow! what a great this and thoughtful post!! I'm definitiely adding this to my :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Helene. I'm glad you liked the post. There is so much potential for libraries to really be the superstar of services to a community.


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