Friday, April 11, 2008

CiL Report

My supervisor asked me to write a brief report about what I learned at Computers in Libraries this week, more specifically, what were the trends and what actions do I plan to take as a result of what I learned. I was eager to type up my notes and summarize them to help myself digest some of what happened. As a first installment to all that I plan to write, here is the brief report that I wrote for her.

Major Trends

  • Widgets – This word was used all over the place. A widget is a box on a Web site that brings in functionality from a separate page. The quick search box to our catalog on the Snowden Web site is an example of a widget. Penn State created a page specifically for novice searchers that was simply a series of search box widgets. Many places are also providing links so students can add these library search boxes to their iGoogle, facebook, or MySpace pages. Other libraries use slideshow, countdown, and IM widgets.
  • Virtual Reference – This continues to be a big topic of discussion. The focus of virtual reference continues to revolve around IM chat reference, but it doesn’t sound like very many people have been overly successful. Meebo seems to be the most popular free IM tool.
  • YouTube videos – Libraries are creating clever videos and the presentations make the technical aspect seem not so intimidating. Most presenters suggested getting patrons involved since our humor is different than theirs. The goal is to make the video “go viral,” meaning that students will think it’s clever and send it to their friends.
  • Web 2.0 tools in catalog There were a number of presentations on catalogs, though I only attended one. The general gist is that most catalogs are ugly and not user-friendly. We should have catalogs that allow for tagging, reviews, book lists, and IM chat, traditional reference, and links to ILL at all dead-ends.
  • Creative Web 2.0 marketing – The biggest trend is to have a program or “contest” that invites the local community to submit pictures or podcasts to the library. A number of public libraries have asked for pictures of what teenagers do for fun in the library, podcasts of what people like about the library, pictures of people reading their favorite book or a particular popular book, or a day in the life of the local library. The idea is that patrons will show their picture to friends and family when it’s on the Web site. Libraries are posting community blogs and turning traditional suggestion boxes into an online message board. Some libraries are also offering personalized READ E-Cards patrons can send to their friends.
  • Gaming – Video games seem to be huge in the public libraries. I didn’t hear anything about adding video games in academic libraries except for an occasional special program.
  • Telling stories – This is a big theme. Tell your story about the library, and get patrons to tell their stories. People like stories and they’re good for marketing.


  • Have people take pictures with their Harry Potter books as a pre-HP-Night activity
  • Look into creating videos with students’ help
  • See how difficult it would be to create personalized READ e-cards
  • Plan marketing programs that involve people submitting pictures to us
  • Use tips to clean up the Web site
  • Perhaps create a “novice searcher” page under English Subject Links specifically for English 106
  • Look into adding widget links to Web site that people can add to facebook, MySpace, iGoogle
  • See if Anonymouse really works for testing off-campus database access
  • Look into creating database-driven Subject Links pages
  • Look into creating virtual reading rooms and virtual summer reading programs
  • Create Google Blog Alert for “Snowden Library” to see what users are saying about us
  • Look for more information about faculty and Web 2.0
  • Allow students to ban books as a Banned Book Week activity (but not reserve materials)
  • Look into uses for at the reference desk


Katertot said...

Have you tried the Shelfari widget yet? Just wondering, because I have my shelf on myspace and facebook and they both act VERY differently. Granted, these are two different applications created by myspace and facebook, and they both have problems. Let us know (okay... ME know) if you try out the Shelfari widget program or what you find out about how this works.

supernumerarypa said...

Our library's blog uses it and it seems to work great. I should add mine to my blog, but I haven't used it personally.