Evaluative Report

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This post, as my last one for INF206, is in two parts: Firstly I will provide an evaluative statement using three of my blog posts which will be followed by a reflective statement on my development as a social networker…

a) Evaluative Statement

  • My post on “Second Life” describes my experience in the virtual world that is Second Life! I posted that when I first entered Second Life, I was scared and not particularly positive about the ability of Second life to meet the needs of libraries. As stated in my post, experiencing Second Life as I did changed my perspective and I can see a lot of value for such a “tool” within libraries (or any realm providing information/learning experiences). This post shows how, through engagement with a technology, we can better evaluate its effectiveness to meet our objectives. This is particularly important as librarians in the web connected era in which we find ourselves.  Virtual Worlds can open the doors to the library as never before, but they can be filled with dangers that libraries need to try to mitigate. Part of the way libraries can do this is to ensure that the link to their ‘region’ is always up-to-date. This may not always be possible, but due to the size of virtual worlds it is important. Alternatively, the library could put themselves in a PG virtual world like jokaydiaGRID. As Kevin Kelly(2009) said: “We have to use things in order to find out about them … we actually have to engage with technology. The only way we can determine if something is good for us or bad for us is through use.”
  • The post about the Arizona State University Library YouTube Channel discusses how one library is interacting with Web 2.0. It also discusses this interaction with reference to the ‘4C’s’ of Social Media and shows how difficult it is to fully achieve all four ‘C’s’. The key here is the collaborative nature of social media. Not only is Web 2.0 about having a web presence, it’s about two-way communication and collaboration. This post confirms this: Arizona State University has a positive web presence, but does not fully utilise the possibilities of social media by enabling the co-creation of content. Here is the key for Librarian 2.0: Collaboration. With the introduction of Web 2.0, the one-way conversation was relegated to the background as irrelevant. It is not what users want. As I have said a number of times on this blog; we, as information professionals, need to be where our users are remembering what Wallace and Bathur noted: “[p]ublic libraries are no longer solely store houses of information. They play an important educational, cultural and social role within the community” (Wallace and Bathur, 2007, p.18-19). Finally, as Meredith Farkas (2007) said in Building Academic Library 2.0: we are part of an evolution, not a revolution! The Arizona State University Library has made a start and certainly provides an excellent example of how libraries can engage with the community using Web 2.0 tools.
  • The final post I will look at is the one titled 5 Social Media Policy Resources. I am a fan of policies because of the direction they can offer and this post provides a number of useful resources for writing social media policy. As I do not yet work in a library, or the information profession, I found this blog task somewhat difficult, but certainly very useful and as the task asked for only five resources, it made me really consider the usefulness of the resources selected. The ones that I have found and posted reflect my current situation – someone who is looking to work in libraries and appreciates the value of social media, but who also understands the negative potential of using the technologies. Focusing on policy assists in minimising some of those concerns whilst encouraging the use of them. All of the resources I have selected have something different to offer a policy writer in regards to content, intent and legal requirements of a social media policy. The world of Web 2.0 blurs the barriers between professional and personal: for example, before social media, people would have conversations that were limited in their reach so if someone wanted to complain about their boss or their customers they could do so in relative safety but in the world of social media, that apparently ‘private’ conversation just became global – even if we think that we have only communicated with ‘friends’. Written social media policies assist employees and library users to navigate the murkiness of social media to minimise the potential negatives and maximise the absolute positives.

b) Reflective Statement

This subject has been one of the more enlightening subjects thus far in my journey with CSU. I have been a little slow adopting some social networking technologies and a poor user of other social networking technologies. I have been a member of LinkedIn for 2.5 years and have never really connected with it. I was on Facebook for 3 years before I really started using it for connecting with people and I joined Twitter in 2011 and only really began using it during this subject! I now have a HootSuite account to manage my Twitter and Facebook interactions (and monitor my blog and LinkedIn account) and I have a Feedly account to aggregate my RSS feeds (I did investigate Flipbook but I found it a little difficult to use).

RSS has been a major eye opener for me in this subject. As I noted in my two-part RSS post (Part 1, Part 2) I didn’t see what the difference was between Twitter and RSS. Now I know, there is no going back! I am slowly building my RSS ‘library’ of feeds related to libraries, archives, politics and other ‘fun’ stuff! I now don’t like it if I can’t subscribe to an RSS feed!

I stated above that I currently use both HootSuite and Feedly. I know that HootSuite can manage RSS feeds, but there are two reasons I have chosen a separate RSS reader:

  1. Feedly can be downloaded to my iPad and mobile phone as an app making access easier and
  2. The Feedly interface is quite nice and makes reading the feeds much more comfortable.

I also really enjoy using Twitter and now I understand the #hashtag concept I can search for topics that interest me and, as a result, publish more meaningful tweets. I also now understand that I don’t have to follow someone to reply to a tweet, or to send them a tweet so I can get involved in a conversation but not necessarily with the ‘person’.

I have also experienced the value of virtual worlds through the visits to Second Life. Again, I was very wary and quite sceptical of the value of virtual worlds to libraries and now I have told the story of my experiences to some educators I know who are now looking at how they can incorporate the use of virtual worlds in their work. I have learnt a lot through the Second Life visits and I keep thinking about how it can be used and look forward to being able to more fully explore this aspect of Web 2.0 when I have completed my degree and begin working in the library profession. I would like to say again, as I did in my post about Second Life, that without good direction, Second Life is a very scary place and one thing I have learnt is the value of Second Life tours, hand holding during the learning phase and ensuring that people have a ‘safe’ place to go to when on Second Life.

The work we did on policy was really good – as I stated in my posts, I am currently employed outside of the information profession and while some of the tasks were a little difficult to fully grasp, the ones around policy are really pertinent. I now feel comfortable looking at social media policies and considering which parts could possibly fit with a future employer. I would also be comfortable engaging in a discussion about the value of a given policy.

Utecht (2008) discussed immersion, evaluation, know it all, perspective and balance in regards to developing a Personal Learning Network and I am currently between immersion and evaluation. I struggle with the idea of balance at the moment as I have other responsibilities on top of my study, but I have printed out Nielsen’s (2008) five ways to build your PLN. I intend to keep this with me as I further engage with social networking technologies.

I now see myself, not as someone who is necessarily competent with social networking technologies, but certainly as someone who is more willing to investigate them and evaluate their value for me personally and professionally. I have gained a lot of confidence in my ability to explore and use new technologies and my scepticism of these technologies is diminished. Certainly, as a result of my study in this subject, I feel I am well placed to help novice social media users explore their world using these technologies and am willing to infect them with my enthusiasm for social media, that I caught from INF206!

REFERENCES

Kelly, K. (2009, December 1). Penny Thoughts on the Technium. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeTEcwmfuu4

Librarians Association of the University of California, Berkeley Division (Producer). (2007, November 19). Building academic library 2.0 [Video]. Retrieved from       http://www.youtube.com/watch?=q_uOKFhoznI

Nielsen, L. (2008, October 12). 5 Things You Can Do to Begin Developing Your Personal Learning Network [Web log post]. Retrieved January 31, from http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com.au/2008/04/5-things-you-can-do-to-begin-developing.html

Utecht, J. (2008, April 3). Stages of PLN adoption [Web log post]. Retrieved January 27, from http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption

Wallace, M., and Bathur, L., (2007). Report to Finance, Ethics & Strategic Planning Committee. Retrieved from http://www1.waverley.nsw.gov.au/council/meetings/2007Minutes/0709/documents/LibraryFunding.pdf).

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5 Social Media Policy Resources

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Not working in a library (nor the information profession) at present, I wasn’t sure how to go about this task as it requested we consider resources relevant to our workplace. My workplace policy on social media is that we do not have company approved access to social media! However, I still thought it was a valuable exercise, so below are my five resources for Social Media Policy.

1. State Library of New South Wales. (2012). Social Media Policy.retrieved from http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/about/policies/docs/social_media_policy_v1.0_2012-10-24.pdf

  • This policy states that social media is about conversations and contains clear guidelines as to who the policy relates to and how it relates to them. It is quite an in-depth policy and not only details the responsibilities of different organisational roles within the library context, it also references applicable legislative and policy frameworks such as Federal and State laws.

2. Jones, J. A. (2012, February 9). 10 Tips for Creating a Social Media Policy for your Business. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/10-tips-for-creating-a-social-media-policy-for-your-business/

  • Whilst this piece was not written specifically for libraries, it does give some good advice. Interestingly Jones refers to each tip as a strategy and I think this helps to remind us that the use of Social Media in business is a strategic decision and should be approached as such.

3. The University of Newcastle Australia. (2011). Social Media Communication Policy. Retrieved from http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policy/000953.html

  • This policy document provides clear statements about expected behaviour from both university staff and students. It also clearly references other applicable university policy documents. Finally, there is a very clear statement about the consequences of breaching the policy such as disciplinary action within the university or referral to a statutory authority.

4. State Records Authority New South Wales. (2010). Social Media Engagement Policy. Retrieved from http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/about-us/accessing-state-records-information/state-records-policy-documents-and-tabled-documents-1/social-media-engagement-policy

  • This policy provides staff with five key principles to follow when interacting on social media: Do not mix the professional and the personal in ways that might bring State Records into disrepute; Do not undermine your effectiveness at work; Do not imply State Records endorsement of your personal views; Do not disclose confidential information obtained at work; Be a Public Servant. It also references other applicable organisation policies. Whilst very succinct, it is still clear.

5. National Archives of Australia. (2013). Your social media policy – what about records? Retrieved from http://naa.gov.au/records-management/agency/digital/socialmedia/social-media-policy.aspx

  • This document provides Commonwealth agencies with advice on constructing a social media policy. There is a sample policy given and there is also a list of policy aspects that the Archives recommends in an ideal policy. It also clearly shows which other policies/protocols should be considered/referenced in a social media policy.

5 Keys to a Social Media Policy

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As I said in my post Did You Know 4.0 policy sets boundaries and expectations: Clear boundaries ensure users understand that there may be consequences to breaching them resulting in users, usually, abiding by them.

I see that five key points for libraries to consider in writing a Social Media Policy for employee use of Web 2.0 tools using company resources are:

  1. All employees need to be aware of the terms of use: of company computers, paid work time and company internet facilities. It is not unreasonable for employees to expect some level of restriction on their use of company assets. Further, the company can also be held accountable for staff behaviours if nothing is done to stop illegal behaviour (e.g. racism, sexism, etc.) that is being conducted on company assets.
  2. The Social Media Policy needs to be consistent with all other company policies. If all policies are consistent, then they are easier to remember and adhere to. So if the Computer Use policy states that employees are not allowed to access Facebook (for example) using work computers, then the Social Media Policy needs to state that only approved users will be given access to Facebook and that it must only be used for company business.
  3. There needs to be a clear understanding and statement around privacy: both operational and customers’ privacy. All organisations have information that they wish to keep private be that proprietary information or customer details or even personnel details. There are legal and moral obligations that need to be followed and these requirements need to be very clear.
  4. Be transparent: ensure that it is understood that full disclosure is important in comments. Insisting that employees disclose that they work for the organisation is good practice and enhances customer trust in the organisation. It should also be clear that such disclosure is not necessary in their personal networks.
  5. Be professional. This is important. At work, one is a professional and they must be expected to behave as a professional. This includes such behavoiurs as not arguing with customers or staff in public forums, not making negative comments about the organisation on Social Media, etc.

I choose these out of the myriad of possibilities as I see them as being quite broad but narrow enough to have meaning.

The Challenge of Finding Authentic Information …

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“… librarians and publishers need to adopt new perspectives on how they do their work. They must see themselves as researchers who play a role in leading innovation by responding to the preferences and needs of younger users. Rather than scolding students for using Myspace and Google for communication with peers and finding information, they should instead try to understand the processes at work, and define their roles more broadly as leaders who integrate an understanding of the user, the learning process, and the value of selectivity and editorial development of digital information. While this does not mean catering to every preference expressed by students, it does mean seeing users as partners who can lead innovation because they understand the new ways in which people engage in research, communicate, and learn.” (Wittenberg 2007)

I know that in an academic environment block quoting is not preferred, but I cannot say the above in a better way than Wittenberg!  This task has asked me to identify two take home messages from my readings. This one from Wittenberg is the first.

Rather than viewing web gathered information as ‘bad’ or ‘lazy’ we need to see it as a way into the learner’s mind. Again, as I have said in other posts, we need to be where the users are and they are online. If they will be using Wikipedia, then we need to use that as a learning opportunity for critical thinking activities. We also need to accept that Wikipedia may not be as inaccurate as some may think (see Giles, 2005).

Further to this is Lorenzo (2007) and the discussion about information fluency. Librarians are in the perfect position to ensure that users can effectively use new technologies, both physically and mentally. We need to be willing and available for those users that ask for help and those that don’t.

REFERENCES

Giles, J. (2005). Internet encyclopaedias go head to head. Nature, 438(7070), 900-1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/204565110?accountid=10344

Lorenzo, G. (2007). Catalysts for change: Information fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the new education culture. (March). Retrieved from http://www.edpath.com/images/IFReport2.pdf

Wittenberg, K. (2007). Credibility of content and the future of research, learning, and publishing in the digital environment. The Journal of Electronic Publishing, 10(1). Retrieved from http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=jep;cc=jep;rgn=main;view=text;idno=3336451.0010.101 

Why libraries should be on social media …

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The first part of this entry shows a comparative table of three local libraries use of social media and the second part discusses why libraries should be on social media.

the libraries chosen for the comparative table are all local libraries in the same region:

Wollongong City Library

Shellharbour City Library

Kiama Library

Comparitive table

Now for the second part of this post … Why libraries should be on social media.

I would like to point out that this is not a question, but a statement – Libraries need to be on social media. Access to information, once the sole domain of libraries, museums and universities, is more convenient and more cost effective than ever before. The following quote is from the introduction to my second assignment for this subject:

“In her article “If you are not online … do you exist?” (Grigg, 2012) Grigg makes the point quite clear: If your online presence is minimal, or difficult to find, customers will go elsewhere. In this age of ‘googling’ can the library afford to be the last stop for an information seeker/customer? (Behrends, 2012) In a 2007 report to Waverley Council, Wallace and Bathur note not only the decrease in State Government funding to Councils for Public Libraries, but that “[p]ublic libraries are no longer solely store houses of information. They play an important educational, cultural and social role within the community” (Wallace and Bathur, 2007, p.18-19). Further to this, Behrends (2012) argues that libraries need to have an online presence to push their services to users in preference to Google results.”

I could list lots of dot points as to why libraries should be on social media, but the above says it all: Libraries need to join the wider community and engage with users to provide the service the user needs.

As Vanilla Ice said: “Stop, collaborate and listen”. As tomorrows librarians, this is what we need to do today.

REFERENCES

Behrends, S., (2012). Libraries vs. Google in the 21st Century. Retrieved from http://theidaholibrarian.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/libraries-vs-google/

Grigg, J., (2012). If You Are Not Online … Do You Exist? Retrieved from http://socialdragonmarketing.com/if-you-are-not-onlinedo-you-exist/

Vanilla Ice. (1990). Ice, Ice, Baby. On To The Extreme [Cassette Tape]. Pyrmont, NSW: SBK.

Wallace, M., and Bathur, L., (2007). Report to Finance, Ethics & Strategic Planning Committee. Retrieved from http://www1.waverley.nsw.gov.au/council/meetings/2007Minutes/0709/documents/LibraryFunding.pdf).

Librarian 2.0

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From all that I have read during this subject, I see that an information professional in a Web 2.0 world needs to be:

  • willing to explore and try new technologies, whilst also being aware that not all Web 2.0 technologies will be useful to their library
  • somewhat tech savvy – a basic understanding of how Web 2.0 ( and other) technologies work is essential to ensuring that technology decisions are made with ‘eyes wide open’ (so to speak)
  • willing to collaborate with other professionals and library users to provide best fit technologies for their library
  • flexible – the world of Web 2.0 is constantly changing (perpetual beta) so what works today, may not tomorrow and vice versa
  • tomorrows librarian – Web 2.0 is always looking to the future – how something can be improved – and as information professionals we need to do the same thing — what worked yesterday, may not work tomorrow.

There are quite possibly many more attributes and skills that I could list here, but I think that this covers the essentials.

Cheers!

Library Website Design

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Today the Web is routine. “It’s a tool. If it’s convenient, they [people] will use it; if not, they won’t.” (Nielsen & Loranger, 2006, p.xv). So what makes a library website, more convenient, more useable, more friendly?

According to Mathews (2009), components such as visual cues, photographs, search facilities and feedback functionalities are required components of good website design and Lazaris (2009) suggests animations, colour and printable elements when building a website for children. From a users point of view, I see the following criteria as important when developing a modern website for a library:

  1. Less text, more icons – Too much text on a page, particularly a home page, is distracting. Minimise text as icons can provide clear visual direction.
  2. Obvious (and effective) search facilities – Look at Google: it is clear and returns (usually) useful results. Provide the same experience for your library users.
  3. Easy navigation tools – Help your users connect with you: Jargon can ‘encourage’ people to disengage with your site, and your organisation. Make navigation clear and simple.
  4. Relevance to the audience – Build each page, or functionality, for the target audience. The best way to do this is usability testing (Lazarus, 2009 and Nielsen & Loranger, 2006, p.394-395)
  5. Mobile-friendly – Mathews (2009) makes a clear point about ensuring that there is a mobile version for your library’s website. More and more people use mobile devices: Be where your users are! I would like to add, as a side note, that while Lazaris (2009) states that Flash should be used a lot, I would tend to disagree. Not only does Flash not work on iPhones and iPads, it is no longer supported on mobile devices (http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2011/11/flash-focus.html). As more people are using mobile devices for internet access, including children, excessive or exclusive use of Flash would mean that quite a number of users will not get the most out of your website.
  6. Accessibility – Never forget that some users may have visual or auditory difficulties. These users also need to be catered for. Ensure that where possible assistive technology (such as web readers) are able to effectively access your web pages (The Australian Federal Government has this as a mandatory requirement of Government web pages – http://webguide.gov.au/accessibility-usability/accessibility/).

In looking at my local library, their home page is uncluttered and is broken up into different segments, making it easier to find what you are looking for. However, overall, I find my library’s website quite boring and utilitarian.

REFERENCES

Lazaris, L. (2009). Designing websites for kids: Trends and best practices, Smashing Magazine, (27 November). Retrieved from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/11/27/designing-websites-for-kids-trends-and-best-practices/

Mathews, B. (2009). web design matters: Ten essentials for any library site. Library Journal, (15 February). Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6634712.html?industryid=47126

Nielsen, J., & Loranger, H. (2006). Prioritizing Web Usability. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Press

Winokur, D. (2011). Flash to Focus on PC Browsing and Mobile Apps; Adobe to More Aggressively Contribute to HTML5. Retrieved from Flash to Focus on PC Browsing and Mobile Apps; Adobe to More Aggressively Contribute to HTML5

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