November 4, 2007

Designing an OPAC for Web 2.0

Posted in IL, il2007 tagged at 5:47 pm by Robin

Oh. My. God. Can I just say wow! Casey Bisson talked about the advantages of an OPAC with Web 2.0 capabilities (comments, tags, etc.) and then demonstrated how easy it can be to get one! First, he talked about the challenges to our current catalogs – the usability, findability and remixability of our content is pretty limited. He also said that we’ve learned a few things from the Web 2.0 phenomenon – we have one chance to prove we aren’t stupid – if someone comes in looking for books on the sociology of education, and we offer books on watersheds, they are going to think we are stupid (and he showed an example of just that happening on a traditional catalog search), search boxes are for asking questions and links are citations. As for usability and remixability of our data – we should be offering users ways to reuse our content they way they want to use it (easy-link to our catalog, etc.). He also made the point that sites that allow comments value their users. Control isn’t so important when you think of commenting in that way. Also – your website isn’t a marketing tool, it’s a service point. This point was repeated a couple of times in the conference!

The last 11 and 1/2 minutes of the presentation were taken up with the installation and configuration of Casey’s “next-gen opac”, scriblio. He actually did it in real time (with very little prep work done prior to the session) and showed how quick and easy this OPAC is. As he was demoing it at the end, I thought it looked an awful lot like III’s Encore product – but without the hefty price tag and with a tiny bit more upkeep required (automated updates done twice a day would just about do it).


October 31, 2007

Library Redesign

Posted in IL, il2007, presentations tagged at 9:21 am by Robin

Bennett Ponsford and Christina Hoffman Gola from the Texas A&M libraries discussed what they did (surveys, focus groups, etc.) to get information from students on their redesign project. The process of getting respondents was pretty interesting – they used email, facebook group bulletins and discussion forums to try to get users in for focus groups and surveys. Email was, by far, the most effective way to get folks to help them out. The rest of the presentation was focused on what they learned and was pretty much focused on the academic library and how undergrads, grads and faculty use the site differently. Not a lot for public libraries there.

The next presenter, though, had a great idea! Erica Reynolds, from the Johnson County Library,  got frustrated with her redesign process and decided to take the web group out of the library and on a field trip. They headed to the Nelson museum of Art in Kansas City and used the concepts from the 4000 years of art collected there to recharge their batteries and get ideas for their redesign process.

  1. Have a backup plan – they kept the old site available via a link so that if something didn’t get moved to the new site, they could still get to the information
  2. Be bold. Be dynamic. Be human – use pictures of staff, patrons and guests who provide programs at the library.
  3. When you paint to sell, you paint people – again, use pictures of both staff and patrons to get users interested
  4. Enliven your collection through reorganization and presentation (uses Novelist to populate “need a story?” feature)
  5. Technology changes everything – “if a director’s not blogging, we’re like – ‘what are you doing?'”
  6. Experiment with small studies and prototypes
  7. A desire for beauty and serenity endures
  8. We like surprises. Anticipating surprises is even more delicious.
  9.  A good guide enhances the experience exponentially
  10. Destruction and creation are forever linked
  11. Never stop innovating
  12. We can be both prestigious and playful.

I will definitely link to the last presenter’s slides – they were gorgeous and there was a lot more info on them… I just couldn’t write that fast to get it all!

Putting Evidence-based practice to work

Posted in IL, il2007, presentations tagged at 9:02 am by Robin

Frank Cervone started this presentation with an overview of what “evidence-based practice” is – it’s essentially the rigorous use of data from various sources to drive web feature/application/design decisions. He listed the fundamental ideas of evidence-based practice as studying a particular problem using focus groups, surveys and direct observation usability studies, contrasting your results with other studies and then combining results to better understand the problem and, hopefully, the solution. He went through a discussion of HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) principles and discussed levels of evidence, from the peer reviewed, rigorous studies in the literature to the casual anecdotal evidence from the public services staff. The “big issue” from his work with all of this is that we should be designing for a world where our users don’t have to come to the library site – because they won’t. We’ll have to be where our users are!

Amanda Hollister did the last bit of the presentation on her academic library’s use of breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are a way to track what pages you have visited in your visit to a site. We have breadcrumbs at the top of our staffweb pages. They used a dynamic, page-based system from Yasure media that they then customized to keep the path data (the route visitors took to get to various pages on the site) so that they could analyze it and streamline their site in response.  The methods – and results – were really pretty interesting. It seemed to provide a LOT more information then the standard web log analyzing software.

Planning & Implementation of Library 2.0

Posted in IL, il2007, presentations tagged at 8:42 am by Robin

David King, the web branch manager for the Shawnee county library in Topeka, KS, gave an awesome presentation about how to go about using Web 2.0 tools in libraries. He started off with some unfortunate implementations (private MySpace profiles, blogs that hadn’t been updated since 2005, etc.) and basically talked about how to manage these new tools to serve patrons. His main theme was to think through the goals for your library’s use of MySpace, blogs or whatever it is you are using. He also said to think about the services you provide physically and start offering them digitally (virtual reference, blogs to recreate or replace the newsletter, etc.). He also went through the process of deciding the content. His advice – ask for participation, whether you ask actively (hey – will you all leave your suggestions in the comments?) or passively (use action-oriented titles – like “were you here?” on flickr sets of events to encourage users to comment and say what they thought of the program). He also discussed the “best practices” for social tools – such as leaving comments open and editing them as needed and answering all comments quickly to keep the conversation flowing. He also enumerated the many decisions that have to be made when rolling out a Web 2.0 service – who creates (staff, customers, both)? Who manages the content – posting, editing comments, etc.? He ended with a rundown of the specific decisions that need to be made with each popular 2.0 service – who, what and why, mostly.

Good food and excellent company

Posted in IL, il2007 tagged at 12:33 am by Robin

Tonight I went to eat Greek food with Renee (the librarian from Canada) and Eric (the librarian from Illinois) and Chad (who is from Ohio). We had a lovely evening, but we ended up staying at the restaurant until 10, so I begged off of the karaoke fun and came back to the room to type this stuff up and rest. So, with no further ado, I’m going to type up my notes now!

October 29, 2007

And the conference starts…

Posted in IL, il2007, schedule tagged at 9:29 am by Robin

I have been a bit sketchy in my comments from the preconferences, simply because they are long and exhausting and contain so much information that I’m not sure what to write for you all. I’ll do better about the shorter ones… I’ll also probably put a full write-up about the AJAX stuff up on my “other” blog (shh – don’t let it know I’m cheating on it!!), because that sort of techy info is just what my readers (Tab and Margaret, mostly…) expect from me!

Today the conference starts! The keynote this morning is titled “2.0 and the Internet World” and it should be interesting! The next sessions are all about incorporating 2.0 tech in your library and encouraging information literacy and managing a web site redesign. All fun stuff! I’ll write more later…

October 28, 2007

Project Management and Gaming

Posted in IL, il2007 tagged at 10:54 pm by Robin

I took it pretty easy this morning, just caught up on some ‘net stuff and wandered – while window shopping and stopping to people watch – down to my only session of the day. That one was on Project Management for Libraries and was interesting in that it gave a “library” slant to basic project management concepts. Our exercise was to start basic planning for a project to expand a Public Computer Center in a fictional library. It was a pretty good session, but the day was beautiful and it was hard to focus… After that session, however, I managed to focus without a problem. I went to the open gaming night and managed to get my butt walloped by Jenny Levine while playing Guitar Hero. Besides that bit of fun, however, I also met a BUNCH of the folks that I know via twitter and found some new folks to follow on my twitter friends list.
Bobbi and I met up again after the gaming night was over and went to the Crown and Anchor Pub for dinner. We just got back from all that and we are both about to drop – and the conference doesn’t technically start until tomorrow!! Fun, fun, fun!!!

October 27, 2007

Saturday and AJAX

Posted in IL tagged at 9:17 pm by Robin

Today was BUSY. We started at the Wild Plum, as Bobbi mentioned in her post, and from there headed to Fisherman’s Wharf. While there, we noticed that the sea lions were particularly thick along a wharf close to Cannery Row, so we headed that way. From that wharf, we could peer over the knee-high stone walls and be within touching distance of the many HUGE sea lions sitting on the rocks against the wharf. It was incredibly cool!! While we were there, we decided to go ahead and walk to Cannery Row. After walking through the area, we stopped at Ghirardelli’s for diet coke and a rest while overlooking the bay. We walked back to the conference hotel after that, and I had a Turkey Jack sandwich for lunch. Then came the first pre-conference session…

The session was led by Karen Coombs (of the blog – one I read regularly) and Jason Clark. They did a great job of giving an overview of the technology behind AJAX (a way to use various web technologies to provide data to web pages) and giving tours of library-related applications. AJAX is, essentially, what allows you to edit your photos in Flickr on the display page – without having to move to a different, “editing” page. I got LOTS of ideas, and realized that we use AJAX far more often then I’d realized. Mike is creating a Google Maps page that plots bookmobile stops – this is AJAX. Our desktop info page which pulls weather, the event calendar and the schedules link uses AJAX, as does our reference links page that pulls links out of our account. We are all AJAXed up!! This does not mean, however, that I didn’t get ideas for lots of new ways to use this really cool technique in even better ways on our sites!

After the preconference session, Bobbi and I ate at a nice little seafood restaurant that overlooked the bay at the end of Fisherman’s Wharf, then came back to the hotel where we are now *both* online at the same time. This is a big improvement from yesterday when I could barely get on and she couldn’t at all.

Saturday Morning

Posted in IL tagged at 9:56 am by Robin

We got up at the reasonable time of 7:45am this morning – CST. It was 5:45 local time. We’ll get un-jet-lagged soon. Probably. Monterey is beautiful! Last night at my last cig of the night, I heard the seals. This morning’s first cig had me listening to an owl (then some guy whistling the Sesame Street theme song, but that’s beside the point).  I am definitely not in Missouri any more!! Right now we are eating breakfast at a local organic cafe because they, unlike our hotel, have reliable wireless internet access. Posting may be a bit spotty because of this…

Bobbi and I are hashing out schedules – mine can be found at the IL2007 conference wiki  – I’ll try to keep it updated. This morning, before the conference begins at 1:30, we’re planning to hit the Fisherman’s Wharf area so Bobbi can see the seals that hang out in Monterey Bay.

October 26, 2007

We’re here!!

Posted in IL tagged at 11:48 pm by Robin

Finally – we’ve arrived in Monterey at 8pm local time (10pm CST) and eaten and are getting ready for bed now. Our flight from LA to Monterey was delayed by 2 hours (supposed to leave at 4:10 local time, left at 6:10) and it consisted of a tin can with propellers. When we reached our cruising altitude of 16,000 ft, Bobbi told me I needed to pedal faster to get us to go higher. It was an interesting flight… Since we left Jefferson City at 5:30am (CST) and it is currently 11:48pm (CST), I’m about to drop – Bobbi’s already dropped (metaphorically – she’s just in bed, not yet asleep). The trip was good, but long, and we have arrived and are ready to sleep and get ready for our first sessions tomorrow. There will be more from us then!!

Next page