Archive for September, 2006

Week 4 Case Studies: RSS & the Library

Kansas City Public Library presented their RSS feeds as Subject Guide.  Their list was straight forward and the feeds were broken into a categories so you can select was is most relevant to you.  The Movies & TV Guide was pretty fun.  The How Do I Guide seemed useful but I’m not sure I’d need an RSS feed for all the new How Do I’s that come out.  The standard Libraries Guide section was as always interesting and useful for staying on top of what other libraries are up to, and especially useful for LIS students J

Hennepin County Library’s feeds were pretty good but the layout of the page was a bit confusing. For example the Book Lists feed looked like it would take you to another page before providing the RSS feed but it goes straight to the RSS XML feed, so you’d have to subscribe to the feed before previewing what it offers.  I couldn’t figure out how to subscribe to the Catalogue Search Feed at first.  The description of the feed says you can but I didn’t see the RSS/FEED button at the bottom of the initial search page.  It wasn’t until I clicked on one of the results that you see the RSS button.  This makes sense but it wasn’t intuitive at first and the description didn’t make it clear.

The NHMCCD custom feeds seemed pretty standard, however it was nice that clicking on the link showed you a sample of the current contents of the feed, allowing you to choose from another list of narrowed feeds under the given subject.

Tacoma public library also had pretty standard feeds, upcoming events, broken into children’s events and upcoming events in general.  There were feeds for holiday/closure schedules and new arrival feeds broken into categories so you can get current information about only what you really want.

University of Oklahoma Libraries RSS feeds again seemed to have the standard components on News & Announcements, New Books, and New Electronic Resources.  You were not taken to another page before you clicked the RSS button, which I think would have been kind of nice, but at the same time listing the RSS feeds this way seemed clean and straight forward.  It was also standard in that it had links and explanations of what RSS is and how to use it, and like all the other sites it had links to RSS readers/aggregators.

Western Kentucky University also had a very clean looking presentation of their RSS feeds.  It was very clear from their main page what has and RSS feed and what does not. You can click on links and go to a page on Announcements and view them or you can click on the RSS link and get the RSS subscription URL without going first to the page.

I am really starting to get into and understand RSS feeds, but you can only subscribe to so many before it’s not better than visiting all the sites.  I don’t have very many feeds added to my bloglines account beyond the ones for this course and sometimes I find it hard to keep up!  So I guess you just have to decide what’s appropriate to have as a feed (how often do you need to be updated) and what is appropriate to visit occasionally.  How are you guys deciding what you add as a feed and what you don’t?  I’d love to add feeds like mad but the reality is that I’d never get to read them all!

September 27, 2006 at 5:42 pm 4 comments

Rojo VS Netvibes: Netvibes All the Way

I can’t say, after poking around and registering a test/play account with Rojo, I’d make the switch from Bloglines to Rojo as my aggregator.  Now I may be out of the loop and I may have missed out on finding and understanding the “unique” features Rojo boasts, but I found it more difficult and confusing to use than Bloglines.  Adding new feeds beyond the feeds they added for me upon registration, was not an easy task by any means.  Rojo claims to have been selected as the “best of the Web” for blog reading by the Editors of Business Week, but I’m not sure how.  I admit I’m very new to this RSS business but I’d like to think that with some good help screens I’d be able to make it work for me, unfortunately it did not and my vote is that it is user UN-friendly.  Their help menu didn’t have a search option and the bits it offered you were frustrating!  I visited the “Feed Reading 101” section and after clicking the “Subscribing to Feeds” link I was ultimately lead to an Error screen.  Then because I was in the help section I had a terrible time trying to navigate my way back to My Feeds.  When you click on home it doesn’t take you back your Feeds it takes you to a welcome screen prompting you to sign up again, so you don’t know if your still signed in or if you have to log in again!  You have to click on the sub-link under the home link “visit rojo.com” before you can see your feeds again.  Maybe reading the feeds in Rojo is nice but I wouldn’t know I was so frustrated at this point that because I couldn’t add my own feeds that I had no interest reading the feeds they signed me up for.  The display screen looked reasonable but all in all I felt Rojo was a very frustrating experience for me and it would be very unlikely for me to visit it again.  I will now have to find out how to cancel the account if its possible, but I’ll need to leave that for another day when I’m not as aggravated 😉

WOW Netvibes was so different from Rojo.  It was fun to look at, easy to use, and sign up was simple.  You can edit each of the windows right there to show your feed in a news page format that you can click and edit instantly!  Adding a feed took me 2 seconds and I didn’t even have to hunt around in help to figure it out!  Definitely user friendly and I will definitely keep the test account I set up!  You can link your Gmail account, add photos, and so much more haha!  I don’t have as much to say about Netvibes as Rojo but everything I do have to say is positive!  I really enjoyed this one.

September 27, 2006 at 3:41 pm 2 comments

Week 4 Reading Response: RSS

Before starting the course I took a few minutes to read the Wikipedia article on RSS, and while it was good, after the readings this week I have to ask, where have the RSS tutorials been all my life? 😉  RSS for job post tracking!  This would have been so useful at the beginning of the summer when my Fiancé was looking for work.  I can’t tell you how many websites we needed to remember to go to regularly to see what was new.  I’m glad I know about it now for the future, I love learning new ways to make my life easier J  Speaking of which the weather tracking from the Weather Channel is pretty sweet too!  Since I’m in London and Toronto we need to check the weather for both places every morning, now I can just get notified!  This would have also been quite useful before our vacation this past summer, we were following the weather in Vegas to see what we needed to pack but each time we needed to check it we had to do a new search, next time we’ll just let the RSS feed do all the work 😉

Turning RSS into email, wow yet another brilliant idea!  I’m so sad that I’m just now getting on the RSS bandwagon!  Over the summer I was in charge of compiling and circulating an Information Management Issues publication.  Essentially I needed to scan the news to see what’s happening on the IM front with respect to Data Breaches, New Data Legislation, and Data Security Issues.  I had to sign up to a million email lists, groups, etc.  It would take the better half of a day to get through everything and it overwhelmed my inbox.  I’ve passed this project onto one of our co-op students for this term but I will certainly be talking with them about the benefits of using an RSS feed in general and turning some of these email groups into RSS feeds through Bloglines.  Even better is the “Prospective” web searching RSS ability.  This publication is going to get easier and easier with each new coop student!  The MSN Search with the RSS subscription option will be so handy, in combination with the Google News for this project and using an aggregator to keep it all straight will easily cut the research portion of the publication to a minimum.

Read on and you shall find the answers!  Cohen’s article or tutorial is a gold mine for advice on the best way to get current news for the project I discussed above.  I’m so excited that I’m getting a chance to use what I’m learning so immediately!  I know I said it before but it is just so exciting when your worlds come together J  Cohen’s other article, “RSS for Non-Techie Librarians”, was really good at explaining everything so easily.  I actually linked to it from the first tutorial I went too and saved it to my del.ic.ious account before I realized, it was also one of this weeks readings.

I really enjoyed Robin Good’s article, particularly the section where he “simplifies your task of evaluating and better understanding RSS”.  He summarized the key positive aspects of RSS feeds for email publishing & distribution.  This will help me build a case for its use in the IM Issues publication I’ve been ranting about this whole post.

September 24, 2006 at 4:47 pm 6 comments

Week 3 Case Study Comments and soooo much more ;)

I really liked the layout/organization of the Darien Library Blogs.  I found it easy to navigate, appreciated the “Latest Post” note underneath the Blog title, and the listing of each blog which was specific to a service, etc.  I had a look at the Darien Library Directors Blog and thought it was an excellent way for the busy directors to communicate directly with the public, making themselves more accessible to more people in the community.  It was timely, as blogs should be, and there was even a post that went up minutes after a morning meeting, followed by a comment moments later.  While it looked like it was used most often by the internal library staff as a forum of communication with the director it is accessible to anyone.  I found it a bit difficult to initially identify who was talking but was able to figure it out after clicking on a comment.  The only critique I’d make here is to make it clear who is posting, even if the audience is made up mostly of people who know you, there is a good chance someone like me or the general public may want to know who’s talking without digging.  Harping a bit on the Darien Library blog I have to say I enjoyed the way they used it to track, or in their own words Chronicle the progress towards a new Darien Library.  Though there were not many comments the option was there, and of the few comments some were humorous (I wonder if they’re moderated). 

I looked at each case in the order they were posted and the first thought I had when I got to the Garfield County Public Library blog was WOW that’s long, you scroll forever to get to the bottom!  The next thought I had was WOW so is mine!  So I’m going to get going on using my categories better and make sure that the posts are getting archived once the main page gets too long!  Okay back to
Garfield, I can’t say this blog did much for me.  It wasn’t clear to me until after I read the first few postings that we are dealing with an internal blog for staff members, I’m probably a little slow on the uptake and it may have been clear to everyone else, but it wasn’t to me
L  I think the crazy amounts of scrolling you had to do to see everything on the main page was too much and overwhelming.  Can’t say I enjoyed this one.

However, I did enjoy the Lamson Library catalog of books and more.  While it suggested that it was underdevelopment I was thoroughly impressed.  If all catalogues were this fun more people would use them 😉  I loved the reader reviews of the books, it was like Amazon without Amazon. The “find more like this” option and the “most popular” list made this a lot of fun and easy to spend more time than you planned on it.  I look forward to seeing how more libraries use this idea in the “next generation of library blogs”.

Okay they seem to get better and better (maybe they were intentionally ordered this way Amanda? 😉 )  I love the way the MabryOnline.org blogs are used to put students, parents, and teachers in contact.  I remember when the only way my parents got to talk to my teacher was on parent-teacher night and when I was in trouble and I can’t tell you how many nights we’d return from school, and when our parents asked you what you did you’d reply “nothing”.  With ever increasing home internet access this seems like a fantastic way to keep parents informed about what’s going on in the classroom, not to mention the ability to communicate in an open forum with the teacher and other parents on current issues as well as what’s happening in the classroom.

This is getting super long so I’ll be brief with the last two (oh the irony!).  St. Joseph County Public Library Gameblog was totally unexpected for a library, I know that sounds terrible coming form a librarian, but lets face it this is just too cool! I think this is definitely an innovative new way to bring the teens and the “tweens” back to the library scene, though it is a totally different capacity than expected.  It was also interesting to see that it was a multi-author blog, while I didn’t notice much difference from regular single author blogs (aside from two consistent voices).  So far my thoughts on multi-author blogs is that it is a fine idea so long as they authors are compatible, and I don’t mean they agree on everything.  So long as both authors follow the generally accepted “bloggers ethics” guidelines and clearly identify themselves.  Perhaps my views on multi-authors will change with further exposure to this type of blogging.  As for the VCU Libraries blog, I would chalk it up to be rather typical and practical.  Got a suggestion? Post it here, kinda stuff.  I’ll be interested to see what others have to say about this site in terms of “next generation library blogs”.

September 20, 2006 at 10:15 pm Leave a comment

Week 3 Reading Response Continued: Ethical Blogging

Karen Schneider hears warning bells when she thinks of librarians and blog technology.  Do they really understand the new technology or is this to be the next “filtering wars” of the 90’s?  As Karen states, “the stakes are even higher, because we’re creating highly visible, globally available content.”  But maybe we don’t have to experience the “filtering wars” again, maybe all we need is a code of ethics, which for librarians should really be an extension of our existing ‘information best practices’.  As Karen suggests it is the librarians’ task to provide accurate, reliable, and unbiased information, regardless of the medium.  If we follow some common sense principles like: be conscientious of copyright (if you didn’t write it cite it or in the case of blogs link it!) and disclose the potential of all biases, and distinguish between opinions and fact, there may be hope of a future for libraries in the blogosphere.

Just a quick thought about disclosure of biases.  I got thinking about some of the articles from the first week, when we talked about learning more about yourself and your biases as you blog (I think it was another Rebecca Blood article).  What if you have biases that you are not aware of and you, unintentionally of course, project this into your blog without notifying your audience?  (Yes, I’m a tad paranoid.)  I suppose you’ll find out pretty quickly when your readers respond, but what about your “blogger reputation”? Well lucky for me I read on before I became too paranoid about my subconscious biases!  It’s so simple, when you’re wrong, ADMIT IT!  You will hurt your reputation less if you admit you were unaware of your bias, or if you change your stance, or you were down right wrong about something!  So there is always hope for saving face, so long as you blog ethically!  Okay so now we know how to save face, but how can we avoid the need to save face whenever possible?  Well, Rebecca Blood is so smart because she suggests writing each post as if it couldn’t be changed!  Imagine that, don’t treat it as “just a blog” like Schneider warns against, treat it as a final draft, don’t post it unless you are sure you won’t want to change it, and like Blood suggests don’t be sneaky either, don’t just go in and change a past post because you changed your mind, own up, fess up, talk about it in a new post!  That’s what these things are for right, conversation, and intellectual growth?

On another note, I was sad to find the cyberjournalist.net site was temporarily unavailable by the time I got to it.  Not only was it a posted reading but it was also a recommend link from Schnieders article L  Guess we’ll have to just keep watching to see when it is up again.

Last note for this post I swear!  I just finished reading the “Why and How to Use Blogs to Promote Your Library’s Services” article and it emphasizes in a number of places the importance of brevitiy for a library blog.  Haha it made me giggle because I just realized I an not going to be the worlds best blogger since brevity is something I’ve yet to master 😉

September 20, 2006 at 8:30 pm 3 comments

Week 3 Reading Response: Corporate Blogging

I started reading “Bloging Strategy 101: a Primer”, and became frazzled with excitement!  In fact, I immediately sent it to my collogues, who have been considering a bogging tool for both our internal and external websites.  I also sent them another resource found on Scout: “Corporate Guidelines for using Blogs and Forums”.  This weeks readings and this article couldn’t have come at a better time, as it lends itself well to a number of budding initiatives at work.  The article “had me at hello”, when it brought to light the misconception of corporate blogging as synonymous with PR and advertising.  As the article states it can be very useful in assisting with public relations but this can be done without blatant self-promotion.  I recently had a conversation with a few individuals on Friday afternoon about the potential of using a blogging tool to assist in increasing the visibility of our department through our internal and external websites.  Many people wanted to jump on the bandwagon and begin using it as one of our key advertising features.  I expressed my uneasiness but didn’t have much more than my opinion to back me up at that time, however, once I emailed the 2 article from Scout, I received feedback requesting further investigation of these tools in a corporate environment and we’ll be meeting later this week to discuss the blog’s potential in greater detail (hopefully with a new way of thinking about the uses of blogs). Further, the second article noted above “Corporate Guidelines for using Blogs and Forums” and it’s discussion about selecting a blogging policy and guidelines to set the level of interaction between a company blog and its readers was an excellent spring board for us to begin planning our proposal.  As the article states having such guidelines can help avoid bad publicity and diminished credibility, while at the same time keeping your blog on its intended path.  If you have a chance and you work in a corporate environment or are simply interested in them I do recommend this second article, it was quite useful in practice.  It’s kinda neat when both your worlds (school & work) come together so nicely J  I’d love to hear feedback from anyone who has any thoughts, comments, words of warning 😉 etc. about the corporate uses of blogs in general or in relation to an internal or external website.  Also, I’d be interested to hear thoughts about using an internal resources (current staff), versus contracting an experienced external blogger (my instincts persuade me to think an experienced blogger would be key)? And I’m also interested in getting some feedback about blogging policy and guideline constructing if anyone has done these or simply has ideas about them.  I’m going to scan and see if I can find posted blog policies and guidelines that are relevant, if anyone knows a link please do send it J

September 18, 2006 at 6:54 pm 6 comments

Blogging with the Right Tools

If my library was interested in starting a blog, how would we evaluate the right tools?  Well I’d start by checking out some of the articles we looked at, like the wikipedia article on Weblog Software  and I would take a look at what other libraries have done, and pre-existing comparision charts like the Blog software comparison chart from the Online Journalism Review. Since we are considering a Blog we would have clearly identified our needs and know the purpose the blog is going to serve.  Determining whether or not we’d go with a Developer-hosted or a User-hosted software service would hightly depend on the size of the library and the staffing situation.

September 14, 2006 at 2:01 am Leave a comment

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