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Archive for the ‘Library 2.0’ Category

Darien Library in Connecticut-an example of a good public library website

One of the reasons why many public library websites look a bit dated, lack user friendliness and often feature irrelevant content is because they have to sit within the myriad constraints of the wider Council website.

I’ve spoken with lots of librarians from different authorities across the UK over the years and many of them have voiced concerns that they are unable to fulfil user needs and expectations because IT and legal departments either don’t understand what public libraries are trying to do or are just too busy juggling multiple projects from other council departments to invest time and energy into developing the public library website into something fit for 21st century users.

That’s why I’m looking forward to the publication of an article by Margaret Adolphous in the March online issue of Update. Margaret first contacted me back in July 2009 to ask my own opinions about the state of public library websites in the UK. I also met up with her for a brief chat following my presentation with Liz McGettigan at the Internet Librarian International Conference in October. Margaret has invested a lot of time and energy into investigating this topic and has sought opinions from a variety of people within the profession so I’m sure it will be a great read. Hopefully she’ll offer us all some solutions for the future! ūüôā

In the meantime you might find this article, appropriately titled “How to STOP writing rubbish copy on your website”, useful if you’re currently involved in upgrading your public library website.

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Public Libraries in the 21st Century (C) Christine Rooney-Browne

Public Libraries in the 21st Century (C) Christine Rooney-Browne

Just thought I’d share a couple of presentations that I delivered at two different conferences last week.

First up is my keynote presentation from the SINTO lecture in Sheffield; ¬†“A Look at the Role of Public Libraries in Times of Recession

And secondly, a joint presentation between myself and Liz McGettigan from Edinburgh City Libraries at the annual Internet Librarian International Conference in London;¬†“A Joined Up Approach to Social Media”.

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© Christine Rooney-Browne

© Christine Rooney-Browne

Instead of talking about the presentations,¬† the hot topic at the start of the IFLA conference seemed to be the WIFI access at the conference centre. Many were discussing the fact that they would have to pay ‚ā¨10 for 4 hours WIFI access.¬† The alternative was to either queue for 10 minutes complimentary access in the hallway, or at the library bus just outside of the conference centre.

And so began the confused and somewhat bemused updates on Twitter, with a number of #fail tweets from disgruntled tweeps and bloggers who had expected the WIFI to be free; it seems to be free at most of the other conferences we’ve all attended recently…

Some dismissed the issue, stating that we were there to listen and learn from the presenters and to network in real life, rather than to check our e-mail.  I think they were missing the point a bit.

There are various reasons why one would expect and rely upon free access at an international library conference; and these reasons extend well beyond being able to check our e-mail!   For example, during sessions it can be beneficial to be able to check out the speaker’s online biography; or to look up a specific library website; or even to bookmark some of the resources that the speaker has highlighted on their slides to our Del.icio.us accounts…

Also, I know that I am incredibly lucky to be able to attend this conference and I‚Äôm well aware that there are many more library and information professionals back home in Scotland who would have loved the chance to attend, but are unable to because of financial constraints, lack of time, etc‚Ķ Many of these people follow my updates on Twitter; some specifically to be kept informed about news and ideas filtering through from the sessions I attend.¬†¬† A fellow IFLA blogger referred to this as citizen journalism.¬† And I guess it is‚Ķ ūüôā

In addition, as a few of the sessions I wanted to attend were on at the same time, it would have been beneficial to be able to conduct a quick search using the IFLA hashtag on Twitter (#ifla2009 or #ifla09) to see updates from other delegates tweeting from these sessions…

So, on the second day I succumbed and purchased the ‚ā¨10 card‚Ķthinking that if I only logged on occasionally I could make my 4 hours stretch the duration of the conference.¬†¬† However, on Wednesday came the announcement that WIFI would be free for the remainder of the conference ‚Äď yay! The power of Twitter, again?¬† ūüôā

Surely, at an international conference where we all come together to discuss hot topics in librarianship and the information society, such as; freedom of information; democratic access to the world‚Äôs knowledge; the future of library service provision etc‚Ķ delegates should be provided with free and democratic access to the internet?!¬† Plinius, a fellow blogger referred to access to online resources at this year‚Äôs conference as IFLA1.5, rather than 2.0 ūüėÄ

Apparently, free WIFI at future IFLA conferences will be discussed in more depth at a later stage.  Word on the street is that it’s a budget issue…but I hope that at IFLA 2010 in Gothenburg the issue will be resolved and that all delegates are given a username and password as part of their IFLA welcome packs!

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iliThe full programme for this year’s hotly anticipated Internet Librarian International (ILI) Conference is now online. ¬† ¬†I haven’t been to this conference before but I’m really looking forward to it as lots of people have recommended it to me.

I’ve also been selected to speak at this year’s conference, which is even more exciting! ¬†I’ll be presenting with Liz McGettigan from Edinburgh City Libraries.We’ll be talking about Edinburgh’s Tales of One City Project; a joined up approach to social media, which includes blogging, microblogging, social networking, social bookmarking and streaming media. ¬†Here’s the listing for our talk; don’t forget to bookmark it if you fancy popping along!

And here’s some additional details about the conference:

Internet Librarian International Conference 2009
15 &16 October 2009 (Workshops 14 October)
Novotel London West, London, UK

Hope to see you there! ūüôā

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A few months ago I blogged about my experiences of trying to access social media websites at The Mitchell Library in Glasgow.    After that, I was invited to write an article on a similar topic, for Information Scotland.  The article appeared in the April 2009 issue but has just been published online.  You can access it here.

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Although it’s still early days in terms of official research, public libraries are emerging once again as recession¬†sanctuaries; ¬†providing vital services, in times of economic crisis.

Brighton-and-Hove-Recession

I recently presented on this very topic at the Society of Chief Librarian’s (SCL) Conference at the University of Warwick. ¬†(Presentation available via my SlideShare page, click¬†here). ¬†Attending the conference was a fantastic experience as I was able to chat to delegates about the impact that the recession has had on their library services; how they’re managing to deliver high quality services despite ongoing budget cuts; and the innovative ways that they’re¬†promoting their services to users, including this inspired poster from Brighton & Hove….

During the Q&A session for my presentaion I noted a strong desire from many delegates to explore Web 2.0 and social media.  Unfortunately, however, many are unable to implement their Web 2.0 plans due to restrictions imposed on them by council-wide IT departments and their filtering policies (click here for a previous blog post about Glasgow City Libraries & internet filtering).  A shame really, given that other authorities, with slightly more liberal approaches to web 2.0 are able to forge ahead, creating interactive and collaborative spaces for library users to visit online (e.g. Manchester Libraries).

Seems unfair that public library users and staff, many of whom could benefit greatly from accessing web 2.0 and ¬†social media sites are being prevented from doing so as a ¬†result of a web 2.0 postcode lottery. ¬†Wouldn’t it be great if all public library services across the UK were at the same operational level with web 2.0 and social media…before we have to deal with the challenges and possibilities that web 3.0 presents? Just a thought! ūüôā

Twitter Feed - SCL Conference 09 - #scl &#scl09

Twitter Feed - SCL Conference 09 - #scl & #scl09

There were lots of other topics discussed over the two days and to highlight some of the burning issues I’ve created a word cloud, using Wordle, based on keywords from the Twitter feed (see above).

If you’re keen to find out more about the role of public libraries in times of recession then why not click here to check out my recently published article “Rising to the Challenge”, ¬†featured in the latest edition of Library Review.

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Glasgow Libraries Barred Website Message

Spent the weekend at The Mitchell Library in Glasgow; soaking up the atmosphere from the latest Aye Write Book Festival. ¬†Attended a couple of really good events too. ¬†However, despite enjoying both of these events immensely they’re not what I remember most about my visits…

I had thought it might be a good idea to tweet about the events I attended but when I tried to access Twitter on The Mitchell Library’s public access computers I was informed that Twitter was considered to be an ‘unacceptable website’. Surely not, I thought, so I tried again, on a different computer. ¬†Same message again. ¬† Made me wonder about what else would be blocked. ¬†Attempted to login to Facebook and although the ‘unacceptable website’ message did not pop ¬†up, a strange login screen did and when I attempted to type in my user name and password I realised that nothing was appearing on the screen. Seemed to be locked out of that one as well. ¬†Tried MySpace, same thing! Okay, they’re blocking social networking websites I thought….but then something happened that made no sense whatsoever. ¬†I was able to login to Bebo no problem. ¬† I also tried to access Flickr and YouTube but they were inaccessible too. ¬†Stranger still was what I found out later. ¬† Glasgow City Council had been¬†using Twitter to help promote the Aye Write festival, and there were buttons on the Aye Write website encouraging users to visit their profile on both Facebook and MySpace… ¬†

Confused and annoyed I asked a few different Library Assistants why I couldn’t access these websites and they all gave me the same answer;¬†“all social networking sites are banned in the library”. ¬†I asked each one ¬†why¬†¬†social networking had been banned and also, if there was a ‘blanket ban’ like they were suggesting, why was I able to access Bebo? ¬†None of them could answer this question but they did invite me to write my queries on a customer comment card, which I did. ¬†I’m looking forward to receiving a response because I really do want to know why Glasgow Libraries have taken this stance against social networking, especially when they appear to be using social networking themselves to promote their own ¬†book festival.

I know that Glasgow is not alone in their approach to social networking but I am also aware that a growing number of library authorities are using ¬†these new technologies to promote awareness and engagement outwith the constraints of the ‘walled garden’; providing users and staff with an opportunity to learn web 2.0 skills; educating users on how to effectively manage their virtual lives; and encouraging participation and collaboration. ¬†

I understand the need for AUPs in public libraries and I am also aware that social networking is sometimes presented negatively in the press but instead of banning these websites wouldn’t it be more beneficial, for both the library service and the users, ¬†if more public libraries took on the role of educator rather than censor? ¬†

obamafb3gordonbrowntw3After all, when two world leaders, Barack Obama  and Gordon Brown, start using these very websites to communicate with citizens and promote awareness,  is it not about time that we stopped banning access to them in our public libraries?

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