Monday, March 17, 2008

High Tech, High Touch... for little libraries

I'm working my way through High Tech, High Touch: Library Customer Service Through Technology. The examples given make me drool with envy, but it is definitely geared towards public libraries and it is not a how-to book.

So here goes another one of my imposter-techie-librarian, half-baked-idea rants.

I want to look into the concept of "push" technologies more. These are all of the technologies like automatic software updates and notifications where information goes to the user rather than the other way around. This is a big thing in the information age, and it would be great to figure out how to push content the user selects to them more... though figuring out what content students would see as useful and then how to do it are a mystery. I know we could push RSS, but don't know if the students would use it.

The other big thing is customization/personalization. A student recently wanted to know if we could add a place where she could just gather the links to her favorite databases and other electronic library resources. I'm going to send her information on iGoogle.

Another cool idea would be a dynamic calendar that could tell students the availability of the Instruction Classroom (which doubles as a computer lab), and a dynamic system of letting a student know who is on reference. I could see this as being a graphic button on all of our Web sites near the Ask-a-Librarian button. When you clicked on it, it would have a picture of the librarian pop up and tell you if they are at the desk or on call, and give you the number to reach them either way.

One thing I had an epiphany on tonight in regards to a customizable portal for students to store links to their favorite library resources. I'll need to work out the details, but perhaps I can use frames with our Web site's header, links to suggested resources and tools, and the parent frame will simply display iGoogle. This seems like something very simple and do-able until our IT perfects real portals (which will probably take a few years, I heard it's not a priority right now).

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