Web 2.0 and my local library…

January 8, 2011 at 11:04 am (Libraries, Library 2.0, Online Communication, RSS Feeds, Social Media, Social Network, Web 2.0 Tools and Apps)

This post is intended as a quick review of my local library’s website (City of Onkaparinga libraries: http://www.onkaparingacity.com/onka/living_here/libraries) and their use of Web 2.0 technologies, tools and applications.

To put it plainly the City of Onkaparinga does not make any use of Web 2.0, or any online social media tools, communication avenues or interactivity that I can see. But instead offering criticism I will discuss what they could easily use for free to promote their services and collections through social media.

1.  Blogs

There are a number of free blog applications such as Blogspot (http://www.blogspot.com/) or WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com/) that could be used to promote the library’s collections, new additions, staff recommendations, or even just news and events. A blog can be easily set up and maintained and offers the blogger informal feedback from users through increased interactivity and user generated (and easily moderated) comments.

2. RSS Feeds

RSS feeds, in my eyes, are a must have feature for any website – library or other. If there is important information that being pushing out to your users, it is now almost expected that you supply this information in a format that the user can pull into their own online space, through their own aggregator (RSS feed reader). Online users now share the expectation that you will come to them. They do not expect to have to come to you and seek out the information they are looking for.

Free applications such as Google’s feedburner (http://www.feedburner.com/) allow the creation RSS feeds for any website.

3. Social Networks

I understand the issues of privacy, etc that centre around the use of online social networks and also the variety of reasons used by libraries choosing not to use them. But take this piece of advice from someone who works largely with the Web 2.0 environment, is a self confessed social media addict as well as a distance education student, mum-to-be, wife, friend and someone who has family and friends interstate and overseas…

Social networks are where a large – and growing – number of  your library patrons communicate, share, search for and locate information.

Do you really want to miss out on being a part of all that? No? I didn’t think so.

You might not feel comfortable with setting up a public facebook page for the library or a MySpace page for youth. That’s okay. But there are other social networks that can be just as effective as facebook and MySpace when used creatively. Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/) is a prime example of this.

Twitter offers the opportunity to push short informative posts which promote what is happening within the library walls in real time. The use of additional applications such as TwitVid (http://www.twitvid.com/) and TwitPic (http://www.twitpic.com/) allow the inclusion of videos and photographs within a tweet so people can seeshare and interact with the information being pushed, not just read it.

4. Widgets

Widgets are small Web 2.0 applications that you can plug into the template of most blogs and websites to display your posts from other applications. For example, you can use a Twitter widget to stream (display) your tweets automatically on your blog homepage. This not only gives access from your blog to your twitter account, but also allows for cross promotion of both applications’ use through the posted content.

By using a combination of all these free and easy to use Web 2.0 technologies, tools and applications, and promoting them through their official website, the City of Onkaparinga has the potential to reach a considerably larger online audience – within a ‘real time’ time frame – than what they are currently achieving with their online media efforts.

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RSS… How can it be used in a library?

December 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm (Communication, Libraries, Online Communication, RSS Feeds, Social Media) (, , , , , , )

RSS icon The point of this post is to briefly discuss how RSS feeds can be used effectively to deliver relevant information to a library community and enhance information services for users.

The reason behind RSS is to allow for the streaming of information from the source (in this case the library) to the user’s online feed aggregator of choice. This type of information delivery gives the user an hub of multiple online resources which interests them. The end result is information which interests the user arrives through a singular online interface of their choice.

Firstly, the type of information that form the basis – or reason – for an RSS feed’s creation need to be established. Ask yourself and your colleagues questions such as; ‘What do we want to acheive through RSS?’, ‘Do we want to advertise new books, CDs, DVDs, etc?’, ‘Do we want to promote library events and activities?’, ‘Are we seeking to achieve more transparency towards library policies and procedures?’. The answers should give you a good outline and idea as to what content the library wants to provide.

Secondly, there are a number of reasons which could be used to form the content direction for an RSS feed. However whatever the reason is, it should always reflect the information requirements and interests of the library user.  Ask additional questions like; ‘Would the library users be interested in receiving updates about XXX topic?’ or ‘Could this type of content be shared under another RSS feed such as ‘General Updates’?’ and most importantly; ‘What type of information would the user want to receive from the library?’.

In planning this type of service, you may want to ‘start small’ by providing just one or two RSS feeds at first. ‘General Updates’, ‘News and Events’ and ‘What’s new’ are good suggestions for this as they provide user relevant content – or rather information users would be interested in taking the time to read. This point is perhaps one of the most important to keep in mind when providing information via a RSS feed service. If the users are not interested in receiving the type of content you are providing, they simply will not use your RSS feed.

Examples of effective RSS feeds:

The Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/syndication

Library of Congress: RSS Feeds and E-mail Subscriptions

http://www.loc.gov/rss/

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