Too many toys to choose from

I had planned on playing with Voicethread for this latest assignment because I had already had experience with most of the other suggested social tools.  The two tools that I had no experience with were Library 2.0 and Scoop.it.  Upon investigating Library 2.0 I realized it was using a Ning platform which I was familiar with so I turned my attention to Scoop.it.

Scoop.it is promoted as a method to aggregate and curate information found on the web.  Users, or curators as they are called, create topics which they then provide keywords for.  Scoop.it uses these keywords to search resources on the internet which are then aggregated on a “Suggested Content” page for each topic created.  Curators then choose, or curate, which articles they want to add to their topic.

I could not help but to compare Scoop.it to Pinterest as I began organizing and curating my own topics. Scoop.it has “Topics” while Pinterest has “Boards.”  Both social tools have a bookmarking button that you can add to your browser’s toolbar.  Both social tools are similar in that they aggregate information for you.  Pinterest does this in a couple of different ways:  you can look at the content of pinners that you follow, or you can look at Pinterest’s subject list under their “Everything” tab and choose one of their suggestions.  Scoop.it does this differently in that it uses keywords to aggregate information which seems helpful until you realize that you do not know if you are using keywords that will find you the results that you want.

Where both tools seem to differ is in the presentation of content.  Scoop.it is formatted so that it appears like you are reading an electronic magazine.  You can read whatever tagline that the curator adds to the “scoop” and if you find it interesting you can follow the link to the original content.  From what I have observed among the friends that I follow, Pinterest seems to be used mainly for adding and browsing pictures of clothing, or decorating ideas, or pictures of must try recipes.  This is not to say that Pinterest does not have the capacity for being a place that can be used for more serious content, because I have found boards where the content focused on learning.  These boards are difficult to find within Pinterest however, and I find it easier to locate them using a Google search.

I had originally created my Pinterest account because I was looking for a more interesting way to organize my bookmarks rather than keeping them in an uninteresting list.  I was also looking for an alternative to my RSS reader for the same reason; too many lists and not enough visuals.  I found myself too distracted by all of the images in Pinterest however, to use it effectively.  Organizing my boards was also a problem because it is difficult if you want to reorganize which I did a few times.  Pinterest also seems to be utilized by more women than men which makes the content a bit too (I’m not going to say girly although I’m thinking it) female centric.

Now that I have worked with Scoop.it for the past two day I find that I like it better than Pinterest.  I like the way that it is formatted plus I like that it suggests content that I have found useful.  Another advantage with Scoop.it is that its aggregators go out and look for content on the internet rather than just pulling from their user’s content.

As for it being a substitution for my RSS reader, I am not sure yet.  It doesn’t let you know when a blog has posted new content.  It does allow you to follow the topics of other users, and pull from that aggregated list, but I’m not sure that I really need more content on top of all of the feed I am already subscribed to.  There is such a thing as too much information.  I do think that it could be useful for bookmarking and I am going to stay with it for a while for that reason and see if I like it.

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It’s not really that new anymore now, is it?

Online communities can be found everywhere on the internet from news sources like the Huffington Post and Salon, to retailers like Amazon and Newegg, to dating sites like eHarmony and Match.  It would seem that if you are interested in something you are bound to find a website full of people with similar interests.

What makes these community sites successful is simple: people participate in them regularly. Without participants in an online community there is no community.

Many libraries make forays into the world of online community and create blogs in an attempt to foster relationships with their patrons.  They also go a step further by creating Facebook and Twitter profiles.  Libraries would seem to have more concerns relating to online communities however, than in simply creating them.  Some librarians are concerned with privacy issues concerning not only their patrons but themselves.

In the article Facebook for Libraries, David Lee King implores librarians to take advantage of Facebook as it is a good way to connect with their community, the majority of who are on Facebook already.  While the article was interesting it was the comments that told the real story as many of the commenters expressed concern over privacy for not only librarians but for library patrons.  It was interesting how there was so little enthusiasm for implementing something that is basically free except for the amount of time it takes to maintain such a service.

Hilary Davis goes more into these privacy issues in her article Reconsidering Facebook and finds that the benefits outweigh the difficulties of managing Facebook.

Twitter on the other hand seems to have a more enthusiastic following.  Typing “libraries and Twitter” into the search bar finds articles like How Libraries can Leverage Twitter and The Most “Influential” Libraries on Twitter.  These articles spend less time trying to persuade libraries to use Twitter and more time extolling the virtues of the social software.

With all of these articles encouraging the use of such resources it seems a bit discouraging that the message is still not out there, and if librarians are hesitant in embracing social networking websites it makes the success of such endeavors uncertain.

Arizona State University (ASU) Marketing Report

Online Marketing

The ASU Library has a robust online presence.  The main library page showcases some of their features in the lower right hand corner of the page.  Links to the library’s Facebook and twitter pages are located there, as well as links to more news and their Library Minute.  One link leads directly to a feedburner page where you can subscribe to the library’s news.

Not until following one of the news links is it apparent that the library uses other social software to market itself.  The library also utilizes YouTube, flickr, vimeo, and iTunes.  There is also a Myspace account for The Library at the Polytechnic campus of ASU.  Further searching found that the library also has a web blog.

Marketing Success

Rating the successfulness of ASU Library’s online presence finds that in terms of having a varied presence, the ASU Library is successful at marketing itself.

The ASU Library has three in house avenues for marketing its online presence. The first is the The Library Channel news events announcements which is the main news feed and is featured prominently on the library’s main page with a clear link to find content.   The second in house online presence is a separate news feed, equally visible, which features their video series, The Library Minute which is a series of videos dedicated to promoting library services.  The success of these two features seems probable considering both are updated regularly and are displayed prominently on the front page of the library’s website.  That the library also has a direct link on the front page that leads to a feedburner is another indication of their dedication to remaining in contact with the people who use the library.

The third of ASU’s in house marketing avenues is also a library blog called ASU Libraries Web blog, and unlike the two previously mentioned was not found prominently on the front page.  The Web blog was found from conducting a Google search for possible ASU Library blogs.  This content of this blog was mainly about e-resources so it could perhaps be meant for librarians and not for the general public.  If meant for the public then it should be more visible on the main page of the website.  This would not seem to be a very effective method of marketing the library’s e-resources.

The ASU Library uses several other social networking softwares to market the library.  The library’s Facebook page is updated regularly and also includes posts by friends of the library.  The Facebook page has 252 likes and there are 3 people talking about it.  There is one discussion that was created but it does not appear that anybody participated in it.  There are pictures included of the ASU Library’s subject librarians.  Considering that the library’s Facebook page is updated regularly and that other people make comments on the wall, this would seem to indicate that this is a successful venture.

ASU Library’s presence on MySpace appears to be absent and the only presence found there was The Library at the Polytechnic campus of ASU MySpace page.  The last activity on this website was two years ago and if there was any content on the page it has since been deleted, either that or it is required to be a friend to see content.

The twitter account in comparison to the Facebook account is much more vibrant.  The twitter feed is updated more regularly and there is different content than what was found on the Facebook page.  There were also posts that indicated that a librarian was answering student questions.  For example two posts read:

     ASULibraries

     @thisgirrlmegan We’re sorry about the slow connection. Can you tell us where

     you were in the building so we can report/track it? Thanks!

     29 Sep

ASULibraries ASU Libraries

@veryaimee I forwarded your info to the business librarians. Let us know if you

don’t hear back from them.

29 Sep

In terms of success, twitter is successful in not only disseminating information but more importantly they have created a dialogue with the people who use their library.

ASU Library’s YouTube, flickr, vimeo, and iTunes, while not featured on the library’s main page, are displayed prominently on the Library Channel newsfeed page.  The flickr account has current features and appears to be used regularly.  The three video sharing websites all feature the library’s Library Minute videos.

With the flickr account it is difficult to determine how often the pictures are viewed but considering how current the photos are and how often the website is updated it would seem to be good for marketing events at the library.

Looking at the YouTube viewing statistics it seems clear that this is a successful marketing tool.  The YouTube channel has 186 subscribers, the channel views are 16,658, and the total upload views 33,795.

With vimeo and iTunes it is less clear how many people view the videos but the fact that the library has dispersed their videos on so many different websites is a good indication of their dedication to promote the library.

The ASU Brand

ASU Library has built a strong and consistent brand online with their Library Channel and with their Library Minute.  They keep active in popular social medias, like Facebook and twitter, that their library patrons use.  By keeping active with multiple video streaming services the library ensures that its message can be seen in several different venues.  The ASU Library logo is consistent with the logo used for the university which further ensures its visibility.

Recommendations

The ASU Library’s online presence is good and it is difficult to find areas for improvement.  Instead they may want to go further with what they have already accomplished.  Perhaps they could feature an article about their twitter account on the front page to make more people aware of how they can utilize the feature.  They could also display the other social networking software that they use on the front page instead of on The Library Channel page.  The Facebook page could perhaps have more frequent content posted and reposted on it, similar to the way that twitter retweets posts.  If ASU Library continues to invest itself in new social software as they become popular than they should be able to continue to be successful in marketing themselves online.

Has Delicious Lost its Flavor?

For this latest assignment, after finding some of the links in my required text to be dated, I began looking for some current information on the state of Delicious. The first thing I found was an article published in January that talked about the imminent closure of the social bookmarking site and discussed how this would affect libraries and what they should do to mitigate the potential loss of content.

As Delicious is a social bookmarking software that we will be using in a future assignment I was a bit perturbed to find that it may not be a viable one to use in the future

The article gave a few examples of how university libraries were using Delicious but when I followed the links I found that some of the libraries no longer had any Delicious content available on their websites:

MIT Libraries

Stanford University Libraries

The College of New Jersey

I wondered if perhaps these libraries had been worried about losing the content they had invested in Delicious and had moved their links elsewhere.  After a cursory glance at each website it was unclear where, or if, they had moved their content.

I was not familiar with Delicious’ format before but it appears that they have added visuals to what had been simply text entries before.  This makes the application look more interesting but I am not certain if the functionality has changed.

I stumbled across another article on ZDNet.com, AVOS’ Delicious Disaster: Lessons from a Complete Failure, which offered up a somewhat scathing review of Delicious’ new incarnation.  Apparently the change from one format to another caused many users content to disappear.  This might account for the “404 Not Found” message I saw on The College of New Jersey website mentioned above.  Whether or not this disappearance is temporary is unclear.

There are a lot of social bookmarking sites out there, just see Squiddoo’s Big List of Social Bookmarking and Networking Sites.  The sites are voted upon and ranked by the most popular.  Interestingly Delicious was ranked fifth in the list.  One through four were: Squidoo, StumbleUpon, Twitter, and Digg.  Which of these sites might be best for libraries is a question best answered in a future post.

This exercise in investigating Delicious has made me realize how fluid content on the Internet is, and how this might be unfortunate for libraries that rely upon applications that are not run in house.   This might also be a case for investing in applications that could be run in house.  If libraries do use social bookmarking sites it does seem prudent to have a backup of this content somewhere local.

People are there, build it already

Should libraries build a presence and provide services on popular social networking sites like Facebook?

I think that the question should rather be…why aren’t they already?

I only have to point to my own university as an example of why an online presence is possible and helpful in creating online communities.  One of the SJSU Facebook pages that I have subscribed to is the SJSU School of Library and Information Science page.  I like this page because it is specific towards the SLIS program and helps keep me informed on various things that are happening on and off campus.  Other SJSU Facebook pages I have subscribed to are:

ASIS&T Student Chapter: San Jose State University

Library and Information Science Students to Encourage Networking (LISSTEN)

ALA Student Chapter (ALASC), San Jose State University

Actually in going back to gather these links I noticed that there were more SJSU Facebook pages that I didn’t know about:

SLISConnect

SJSU SLIS Second Life  (this one hasn’t been active since June 2010)

San Jose State Career Center

One thing I would have to say about some of these Facebook pages is that there could probably be more activity on them than there is now.  I think one problem with pages is that there is a tendency for people to think that they do not have permission to post on the pages; or perhaps it is that people are using a page to keep an eye on upcoming events or on industry information and feel no need to post their own content.  Whatever the reason for low participation on these pages, I do think they serve a vital purpose in disseminating information.

Besides pages on Facebook however, there are also groups that a library can use to create an online presence.  The Society of American Archivists SJSU SLIS Student Chapter for example, is an open group that anybody can join and I like it because it almost has a community like feel to it, more so than the pages in my opinion.  I think part of this can be attributed to the fact that in groups, members who post are recognizable by name and for the most part with a face.  Content posted on pages on the other hand, is mostly done under the name of the institution rather than by a recognizable person.

In regards to creating library communities on Facebook I see more of a future with the use of groups; to me they seem more personal.  Instead of a nameless librarian sporting the avatar of the institution as is the case with the pages, specific librarians could be admins in a group where everybody else was considered to be part of that group.  As group work seems to be a trend especially in my own online learning environment I would think that fostering that same type of environment through Facebook groups would be a good thing to do, especially when it seems that so many people are spending so much time visiting this social networking community.

People are already on Facebook…for any library who isn’t I ask…why aren’t you?