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Library Technology Reports Respond to Your Library’s Digital Dilemmas

Library Technology

Six times per year, Library Technology Reports (LTR) provides library professionals with insightful elucidation, covering the technology and technological issues the library world grapples with on a daily basis in the information age.

Expert Guides to Library Systems and Services







July/August 2006 vol. 42 / no. 4 ISSN 0024-2586


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2006 Publications Jan/Feb 2006 (42:1) PURCHASE CODE: TS4201

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“Linking and the OpenURL” by Jill E. Grogg, Electronic Resources Librarian, University of Alabama Libraries/Adjunct Instructor, School of Library & Information Studies UA, Tuscaloosa, AL Mar/Apr 2006 (42:2) PURCHASE CODE: TS4202

“Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software” by Michael Stephens, Instructor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Dominican University, River Forest, IL Sep/Oct 2006 (42:5) PURCHASE CODE: TS4205

“ERM: Staffing, Services, and Systems” by Marilyn Geller, Collection Management Librarian Lesley University Library, Cambridge, MA May/Jun 2006 (42:3) PURCHASE CODE: TS4203

“Web Services and the Service-Oriented Architecture” by Marshall Breeding Director for Innovative Technologies and Research Vanderbilt University Library, Nashville, TN

“Gaming & Libraries: Intersection of Services” by Jenny Levine, Internet Development Specialist/Strategy Guide Metropolitan Library System (MLS), Burr Ridge, IL Nov/Dec 2006 (42:6) PURCHASE CODE: TS4206

Functional Requirements of Bibliographic Records (working title) by Bradford Lee Eden, Ph.D., Associate University Librarian for Technical Services and Scholarly Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

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Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software by Michael Stephens

Library Technology R







Expert Guides to Library Systems and Services

Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software Michael Stephens

Copyright Š 2006 American Library Association All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author


olding an MLS degree from Indiana University, Michael Stephens has spent the last fifteen years working in a public library as a reference librarian, technology Photo by Adam Tarwacki trainer, and manager of ( networked resources and training at the St. Joseph County Public Library, South Bend, Indiana. His most recent position in the public-library setting was as special projects librarian, focusing on technology, policy, and planning. Beginning in the fall of 2006, Michael will be joining the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois, as an Instructor. In 2004, he was awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services–funded fellowship for the University of North Texas IMLS Distance Independent Information Science Ph.D. Cohort Program to study libraries, librarians, and social software. He is currently writing his dissertation. Active in the American Library Association, he has presented at library conferences locally, nationally, and internationally as well as at leading workshops for libraries and library associations across the country. The Social Technologies Roadshow, a workshop he teaches with Jenny Levine (Internet Development Specialist and Strategy Guide at the ALA) is making stops in Illinois, the Netherlands, and London before the end of the year. In 2001, Stephens published The Library Internet Trainer’s Toolkit, a series of technology training modules on CD-ROM with Neal-Schuman Inc. in North America and in the U.K. with the British library Association (2002). In 2005, he was named a Library Journal “Mover and Shaker,” and he served as a Scholar at the Chicago Public Library’s Scholar in Residence program. He has written for Library Journal, co-authors a department in Computers in Libraries with Rachel Singer Gordon, and currently writes for the ALA TechSource Blog ( as well as his own blog, Tame the Web. ( He resides in Mishawaka, Indiana, and spends as much of the summer as possible in Traverse City, Michigan.

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Table of Contents Introduction: Creating Conversations, Connections, and Community A Web 2.0 World A Note about Open-Source Software On the Library Cluetrain A Note on Using this Resource Acknowledgements Notes

Chapter 1: Exploring Web 2.0 and Libraries What Is Web 2.0? Blogs Wikipedia on Web 2.0 It’s Built upon Trust Web 2.0 Hits the Mainstream Commonalities of Web 2.0 Web 2.0 & Libraries Next-Generation Librarian (On Librarian 2.0) A Web 2.0 Glossary of Selected Terms More Resources on Web 2.0 Notes

Chapter 2: Blogs Part 1: Blogs, Libraries, and Librarians Just a Tool! The Nuts & Bolts of Blogging Welcome to the Biblioblogosphere Why a Blog at Your Library? Surveying the Biblioblogosphere All about Internal Blogs On Staff Buy-In Lessons Learned The Social Purpose of the Library Blog Blog Innovation: The Night Blog More Blog Innovation: Casey Bisson’s WPopac Part 2: Implementing Library Blogs Gather a Strong Blog Team Choose the Software and Host Create and Customize the Look and Feel of Your Blog Train Your Staff Launch with a Soft Opening Part 3: Best Practices for Library Blogs More Tips for Librarian Bloggers Podcasting: Add Audio Ten Points on Podcasting in Libraries More Resources on Blogs Blog Bibliographies Resources on Blogs and Libraries Podcasting Resources Notes

6 6 6 6 7 7 7

8 8 8 9 9 10 11 11 12 13 14 14

15 15 16 16 17 18 18 20 22 22 22 23 24 25 25 26 27 27 28 29 30 32 32 33 33 33 34 34

Table of Contents, continued Chapter 3: RSS Part 1: RSS in Libraries Slicing & Dicing! All about Aggregators Popular Aggregators Taking Advantage of RSS for Library Services How Are Libraries Using RSS? RSS at Hennepin County Library Part 2: Implementing RSS David King on RSS What Have You Learned? Part 3: Best Practices for RSS in Libraries Resources on RSS Notes

Chapter 4: Instant Messaging Part 1: Instant Messaging in Libraries Surveying the Use of IM in Libraries Librarian, How Do You IM? Faster IM Using One IM App A Note about SMS Before You Start IM in Your Library . . . Part 2: Implementing IM in Libraries Part 3: Best Practices for IM in Libraries More Resources on IM Instant Messaging & Text Messaging Notes

Chapter 5: Wikis Part 1: Wikis & Libraries How Wikis Work Surveying the Library Wiki Landscape Wiki Design Principles Butler WikiRef Library Wikis Part 2: Implementing Wikis Wiki Goals, Authors, and Monitors Take the Time to Train and Promote Part 3: Best Practices for Library Wikis Resources on Wikis Notes

Chapter 6: Flickr Part 1: Using Flickr in Libraries Finally, a Mention of Money Part 2: Ten Ways to Use Flickr in Libraries Part 3: Five Hints for Using Flickr in Libraries Notes

36 36 36 37 38 38 39 39 41 41 42 42 43 44

45 45 46 46 47 48 48 48 48 49 50 50 50

52 52 52 53 53 54 54 54 55 55 56 56 56

58 58 58 59 60 60

Table of Contents, continued Chapter 7: Putting Your Library “Out There”


Ten Steps for Staff Buy-In for Technology Projects #1: Listen to Your Staff #2: Involve Staff in Planning #3: Tell Stories #4: Be Transparent #5: Report and Debrief #6: Do Your Research #7: Manage Projects Well #8: Formally Convene the Emerging Technology Group #9: Training 2.0: Let Everyone Play and Experience #10: Celebrate Successes The Librarian’s Reading List Technology, Planning, Libraries, and Librarians Library 2.0 and Librarian 2.0 Social Software and Social Sites Notes

63 63 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 64 65 65 65 66 66

novative things that risk-averse corporations and government agencies would be hesitant to try. We suspect that Technology Review will be writing about the impact of new technologies on society much more frequently. Besides, social technologies are more fun.8

Commonalities of Web 2.0 Librarian and blog author David King, current acting IT Director at the Kansas City (Missouri) Public Library, has also been teaching Web 2.0 classes. In a recent post (“Another Web 2.0 Class Tomorrow”) on his blog, he noted he was changing the course to define some of the commonalities of social software.9 This post provides a useful starting point as well. Many of the tools—such as RSS feeds, comments, tags—discussed here have similar features. For an overview of the tools and the commonalities among them, see the Glossary of Web 2.0 terms (beginning on page 13).

Jenny Levine, Post on the ALA TechSource Blog, -as-social-machines.html

Now it’s time to focus on what continuous computing has brought to our users, our libraries, and our profession. Are we technologically and culturally ready for these users of iPods, laptops, and smartphones? Is, for instance, Wi-Fi ubiquitous within library buildings? Many librarians and library paraprofessionals have witnessed examples of iPods and other devices in use in libraries. Many libraries offer or are considering offering wireless Internet access; indeed, Marshall Breeding’s “Wireless Networks in Libraries” (Library Technology Reports, 41, no. 5, Sep/Oct 2005) tackled the issue of WiFi for libraries. But how are libraries—and librarians—participating in the social Web? I’m building on a theme here: Web 2.0 definitions and discussions focus on such concepts as openness, connectedness, participation, and ease of use. It makes sense, then, that discussions of Web 2.0 lead to the application of “2.0” thinking to library services. Some libraries are even at the cutting edge—offering Web 2.0 services for their users. How can we, as library professionals and promoters, make sense of it all? How can we incorporate new technologies into our own library services? What are the benefits? How do the principles of social software look when applied to libraries? The following list provides a few considerations: ●

Equally fascinating is the work of Wade Roush. In Technology Review, he highlights the move to social interaction online via new technologies. Roush labels this movement “continuous computing.” The three aspects of the definition include:



July—August 2006

Openness—A willingness to share information and content, also known as transparency; planning is discussed and user participation is welcomed. Libraries use blogs to create conversations. Ease of use—Systems are intuitive and users can easily learn to manipulate them. Libraries use instant messaging (IM) to perform virtual reference instead of difficult-to-use proprietary platforms. Innovation—Disruptive thinking and evolutionary systems promote new systems and new ways of delivering our services. Libraries will create subject-based wikis, in which users can suggest resources and ask questions. Social Interaction—People can have conversations and create together. A blog with the comments feature enabled allows library users to discuss plans and programs. Creation of Content—New information is created via collaboration. A library creates a podcast that features the teen-advisory group discussing their favorite games. Sharing—Content is freely available for use and reuse. By using RSS, a library syndicates content from various sources to other Web pages within its community.

Web 2.0 & Libraries

the digital devices people carry, such as laptops, media players, and camera phones; the wireline and wireless networks that serve people’s locations as they travel about;

the Internet and its growing collection of Web-based tools for finding information and communicating and collaborating with other people.10

Library Technology Reports

I feel this way about libraries, too. We’ve figured out the hardware issues, and I don’t anticipate we’re going to face any major, unforeseen challenges in this area over the next decade (more cell phones, more smartphones, more wireless, faster computers, we get it). The key is no longer the hardware, but the software, and in particular, what people do with the software. This year was a pretty good indication of where all of this is headed, and I truly believe we’ll look back on this time as a pivotal one when this new software put us on a different path.



Chapter 2


Part 1: Blogs, Libraries, and Librarians


ne of the most talked about online innovations of Web 2.0 is the use of blog software to create easily updated, content-rich Web sites. In 2004, Merriam Webster OnLine announced the most-searched word of the year was blog! M-W’s definition from MerriamWebster’s Words of 2004 ( .htm) is: “Blog noun [short for Weblog] (1999): a Web site

that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.” Blogs are everywhere! The blog-tracking site Technorati ( frequently publishes statistics. In April 2006, Dave Sifry posted this informative overview of the Blogosphere for Technorati: ● ● ●

Technorati now tracks over 37.3 million blogs The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago

Library Technology Reports July—August 2006

Figure 2: Technorati “is a real-time search engine that keeps track of what is going on in the blogosphere—the world of weblogs.” (


instead of limiting development to what the vendor offers or to what the programmer (you hopefully have on staff) can do, anyone who knows how to write a WordPress plugin can now enhance the OPAC—which suddenly opens the field to potentially thousands of new helpers.8 This is a project to watch closely!

Lamson Library’s “WPopac”

“Library 2.0 in the Real World,” by Jenny Levine -in-the-real-world.html

Part 2: Implementing Library Blogs The best technology initiatives in libraries begin with planning. Use these steps to ensure your blog project—for external or internal blogging—is successful!

Gather a Strong Blog Team Find folks on your staff who have a knack for writing. Find staff members who might be blogging personally or for another organization. Some of the best library blogs are comprised of multiple voices. If the team works together, in my opinion, the group voice becomes the collective voice of the library. One of the best ways to do this is give each author an individual login name so each can post under his or her name and develop his or her style and/or “beat.” Many library-organization bloggers seem to divide topics into categories or have individual author names. For example, at the SJCPL Blog, you’ll find posts about new books, the Academy Awards, Brokeback Mountain, and a librarian who participated in a climb of the Hancock Tower for charity. These individuals add their experiences, thoughts, and interests. Collectively, it creates a sense of humanity for the library. A particular author may really engage a particular reader, but it all happens under the umbrella of the library “creating conversation.” I think the best consequence of group blogs in libraries is that they provide their host libraries with a human presence—library users can begin to see the humans behind the libraries’ walls (outside of their libraries!).

Library Technology Reports July—August 2006

Figure 7: The Night Blog, created by school-media specialist Margaret Lincoln, comprises a student-centered discussion of Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night.


Chapter 4

Instant Messaging “IM is user-centered and builds relationships with library users.” —Aaron Schmidt, Walking Paper,

Part 1: Instant Messaging in Libraries


nstant messaging, commonly referred to as IM, is realtime, synchronous conversation between two people via the Internet. Features of the various messaging clients, none of which can actually communicate with each other, include:

Thirty-eight percent say they send as many or more IMs than e-mail [messages], and the younger users are, the more likely they are to favor IM. Two-thirds

Library Technology Reports

Buddy Lists: a listing of your trusted friends, colleagues, and family members; Chat Window: a window where chatters input text and press enter or send; and Status Indicator: a notation of location or current state of being, such as “In My Office” or “Out to Lunch” (this is known as an “away message” as well).

via dial up back in 1995? IM is still around and going stronger than ever. IM has also been dubbed a Web 2.0 tool because of its participatory, social nature. IM creates connections. It is also a very popular tool! The AOL Instant Messaging Trends Survey reports:

Other features might include file transfer and the capability for video chat or voice chat. IM has been around for a long time in Internet years. Remember your America Online buddies you chatted with

Figure 16: IM Buddy List

July—August 2006

Figure 15: IM Chat Window


Chapter 5


Part 1: Wikis & Libraries

July—August 2006


reated by Oregon-based computer programmer Ward Cunningham in 1994 and named after the shuttle at the Honolulu Airport in Hawaii, the wiki offers librarians the chance to build Web resources without knowledge of HTML or access to the server. Web-based editing allows groups to easily edit and create pages. For this chapter’s definition, I also went to the source of all things wikis and libraries: Meredith Farkas, distance learning librarian at Norwich University in Vermont, wikimaster of the LibSuccess Wiki, and creator of the official 2006 ALA Annual Conference wiki. She defined a wiki as an application that: “enables a group of people to collaboratively develop a Web site with no Web design experience. Any member of the community can add to or edit the work of others, so essentially, a wiki is a perpetual work in progress. Wiki, meaning quick in Hawaiian, was designed specifically for easy and quick collaboration online.” Features of most wikis include: ● ●

Library Technology Reports


Article: A page on a wiki devoted to a particular topic; Page-editing mode: Where creation and editing take place; Talk or discussion pages: Section for each article where readers can discuss or ask questions; History page(s): Tracks the changes and versions of any article; Edit or view source option: Allows editing or viewing of the wiki article’s code; and Search function: searches the wiki.

Emma Tonkin addressed wikis in her article “Making the Case for a Wiki” at Ariadne in January 2005.1 Tonkin

presents several “use cases” or models for wiki use and notes the benefits of built-in search functions, organizational schemas, and categorization. All of these scenarios could benefit librarians: ●

Single-user wiki: A wiki could actually be a personal information manager or repository for notes, concepts, and ideas for one person. Lab book: An online research diary by one person that may be more formal than the above example. Collaborative writing: A group uses a wiki to create a document. Knowledge base: A collection of factual documents and procedures on a particular subject.

How Wikis Work Once configured or installed, a wiki is edited by a simple set of commands in a Web interface that is strikingly similar to that of a blog; however, wikis employ different tag commands. Mediawiki, for example, an open-source software option, uses straight brackets to create hyperlinks and other pages (see figure 18). Jessamyn West, Biblioblogger at, has authored a page of wiki editing tips at the LibSucess Wiki, a collection of library best practices and more. West offers up these tips for building pages and general wiki partici-

Figure 17: Tabs of a MediaWiki Page: article, discussion, view source, and history.

Chapter 7

Putting Your Library “Out There” “We are the fun, friendly librarians of the Tutt Library at Colorado College, Colorado Springs. Our icon is a picture of a statue of Charles L. Tutt, the library’s namesake.” —Colorado College Tutt Library’s Flickr Profile


Ten Steps for Staff Buy-In for Technology Projects One of the most important things library directors and administration should recognize is, however you roll out projects or implementations, these rollouts directly impact library staff. They take the brunt of the change, so keep your staff members informed and ask for their input. Library staff members are not going to care about Technology X if their usual response is, “No one tells us anything,” when confronted with change. Use these steps to improve new projects at your library.

#1: Listen to Your Staff

July—August 2006

Good communication within the organization— both from above and below—is essential. Communication should not be stifled by over-controlling management or by resentful staff. An agile organization offers many avenues of communication. Line staff must have ways to bring issues to management’s attention, and managers must

Remember the Cluetrain? There are conversations going on in your libraries, some in person—I would call that “Elevator talk”—and some via electronic means. What’s being said? Are people unhappy? Have you surprised the staff with yet another big project that just seems to be spending money and time for no discernible ROI? When you meet with folks, listen. The message may come through if you want to hear it: Communicate . . . Keep us in the know . . . Let us plan with you. . . . Try internal blogs and wikis for projects that all staff can have access to and comment on. Roy Tennant wrote about “agile organizations”:

Library Technology Reports

hat a trip this has been! I’ve gone through just five social tools that can improve a library’s online presence. After reading this issue, you’ve seen virtually free software and systems that can add value to what we do best: organizing information and affording access wherever our users may be. The authors of the The Cluetrain Manifesto say that markets are conversations. They also say, “De-cloaking, getting personal: We are those markets. We want to talk to you.” If our users are experiencing a new, living Web, shouldn’t they find us waiting for them? Shouldn’t we be ready to assist or point the way? Or be ready to collaborate on some cool new thing? Are we ready to put ourselves out there through blogs, IM, and Flickr? The best advice I can offer to you and your colleagues at your library: Do not be afraid of this! As we shift to a landscape of continuous computing, there will be unique opportunities to build resources and connections online— to put our data out there so it can be shared and mashed up. So don’t be shy. I would never advocate for an individual to go beyond his or her comfort level, so maybe try a group activity first! You may also find a community just for you, beyond the library field’s professional one, that is a perfect fit. Try it out! Share some photos. Contribute to a library wiki. No matter how you get started, keep in the mind the mantra: Let us, as librarians, the navigators of the Information Age, help grow communities, all kinds of communities, professional and personal—from librarians who create trading cards, to folks who like Macs, to people who love their dogs—and let’s meet up and swap stories, both online and in person! Come in, the water is fine.


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