Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Week 4: Goodreads

Ok, like Twitter, this is another one that work has already introduced me to. I heart the day Tosca showed me Goodreads, and I blame thank Romance Readers Challenge Group for firing up my interest in throwing myself into books that I may or may not enjoy. I'd got into this space where I was mostly re-reading, and only really reading authors I knew already. Yuk. SAFE. After joining Goodreads I found myself trying new stuff on a whim, following trails of recommendations to things I'd never heard of, reading outside my regular genres... and consequently have spent the year with this blissful feeling that there is far too much good stuff to read for the amount of time available. Seriously and without exaggeration, this site has made me a billion times more passionate about reading - and about sharing that experience with other enthusiastic readers - than I was before. And I did enjoy reading before. So yes, of course I would recommend this to library customers, and the benefits for me have been huge. I have requested a lot more, read a lot more, recommended more purchases.

There are other uses for it, as a library staff member. I think we could start to make use of the readers' lists to feed into our Top 5s and our NextReads newsletters. I already use reader reviews to help me assess whether a title is likely to be popular/worth putting into the NextReads newsletters I edit. I've had to give up the Groups I belonged to after coming back to work (they were brilliant during maternity leave but almost impossible, timewise, now) - but these would be great 'support networks' for staff attempting to familiarise themselves (or become an expert!) on a particular topic or genre. In the Horror group I joined, for example, I was able to keep up with and discuss new and upcoming books that were creating a lot of buzz - often with fellow librarians in the group. I also enjoyed adding NZ books to the database, if they were small press enough to not be on there already - felt like I was doing my bit to promote NZ lit!

Week 3: Twitter

Kinda tough to comment on, since I'm already a big user of Twitter and it has infiltrated itself under my radar to the point where I don't really consider it or question it anymore. It was interesting (ok, possibly only to me) that we didn't jump on board with this when Corin, Mr Earlier Adopter, tried to get us to use it as a work-tracking tool a year or more ago. Possibly because we were imagining the wrong use for it - for us, anyway - as it is the sort of tool that has 101 uses, depending on your inclinations. I think Corin envisaged we would tweet when heading out of the office, to leave a record of our whereabouts. From our actual useage, I'd say we're happier using it as a means of informally celebrating whatever best pleases us - quotes from family members that need to be shared, photos of lunch, book recommendations, inanities in movies we're watching, celebrity news, motivational sayings... whatever, really. Minutiae? Sure. But it's very easy to turn away from the ongoing dialogues when you're busy, and then clock back in when you've got a moment and want to 'hear' a friendly voice dish on whatever's floating their boat in realtime.

Hmm, work use? Well, if you update our work tweetstream and you use to do it, you can't help but see that somewhere, *someone* cares what we're tweeting. We won't set any records, but I'd say there's obviously a market for what we're selling. Personally, I liked trying to 'sell' the reviews via Twitter... it's just one more venue to advertise what we've got. Marketing speech??? For a LIBRARY? Yes indeed. We're trying, after all, to talk people out of their 'spare' time, and into a habit of engaging, learning, reading, whatever. And this is a place where a lot of people *are*, so this is one more place for us to be. It provides a way of poking info about collections and events at people who might otherwise be too busy, too lazy, too disinterested to actually come and navigate the website. I love the idea that we're not waiting for people to come to us and find what they need to know - we're going out there and dropping it in their lap, if they prefer. And also, I think we're showing willing to learn, to adapt, to be in new digital spaces. To do otherwise is to show a contempt for what is possibly a growing section of our community who are living a chunk of their life online - to say, hey, your lifestyle is weird and we don't get your priorities. If it's sustainable - and Tosca's possibly the best judge of that - then let's take it to the people.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Week 2: Zamzar

Interesting. Still waiting for my doc, a couple of hours later, but I like the simplicity of the site, and you seem to get a fair amount of functionality for your free account.
Sites like this always make me a bit nervous, where I'm submitting a doc to the ether and trusting on the confidentiality of a bunch of folk who have typos in their FAQ o_O and where I seem to be getting something useful and desirable for free. I was pleased to see that at least they addressed this fear in their FAQ!
Would I use it again? Personally, probably not, but then I have software available to do that kind of thing. I suspect that if I worked at a branch and had to help loads of customers with file format queries I would be cheering this site about now, although, with the delay? Maybe we need to pay for an institutional account so we can get our customers bumped up the queue??

Monday, April 26, 2010

Week 1: Blogger

Whoa, let me just get over the surprise of actually remembering my blog URL from the first time round... expectations of this time round, hmm... I'm hoping to consolidate things I know or suspect about Web 2.0 tools, and learn about some new stuff, too. There's always so much out there that is new, and I'm no early adopter. In fact, it usually takes me a wee while to explore new Web 2.0 tools (if I ever do), and I usually need the motivation of at least a fleeting likelihood that they'd be an improvement in my life, not just another cool thing to spend time on. Once I do find time for some of it, though, it settles in as part of my routine and I really appreciate it - Flickr and Twitter spring to mind, plus Goodreads. They've all definitely enriched my life, though I only skim the surface of their features.

Fears? Last time, some of the tools were irrelevant and I've never wanted to look at them again. Last time, some staff were miserable slogging through some of the challenges, and I'm hoping that this time round, the challenges are such that the staff will find them more relevant and less confusing.

How might a public library use a blog... definitely of the school of thought that says don't just do stuff because you can. Have something to say that will be likely to find an audience. Update regularly. If your audience is young, keep content relevant and on high rotate. I like the way blogs can be used to market library stock - wave interesting things in front of people, put readers together with books. Throw in some authentic voices from library staff to differentiate from a slick shop catalogue - this isn't "Appealing fixer-upper opportunity", it's "Falling apart ex-bungalow with a wonky roof". Be specific, be personal. Get people into the habit of not only borrowing but also thinking, talking, arguing, "using their words" (too much time with a toddler??).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Converting social networking ideas into physical experiences
Worth also following the link to the article giving more detail of Dutch library ideas in practice.