I’ve been administering the Facebook Page for University of Wolverhampton Learning Centres for just over a year now.

It’s been a great learning process for me – not only the actual process of creating and developing the Facebook Page but also managing my first project with all the associated paperwork and processes involved.

Over the course of the year, many librarians have been in touch asking for advice about whether or not to create a Facebook Page for their library; many have gone on to do so, others are still unsure. My personal recommendation is to give it a go if users are already using Facebook – it’s a minimal investment (I’ve spent around 16 hours in total including the initial setup and project administration), and could be one way of reaching some of the users you currently don’t reach by traditional means.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the project, I recently wrote an article about our experiences which has been published in the latest edition of ALISS Quarterly:

Alcock, J. (2009) Using Facebook Pages to reach users: the experiences of University of Wolverhampton. ALISS Quarterly, 4(2), pp.2-6.

Katharine Widdows from University of Warwick also wrote an article about their experiences with Facebook Pages in the same issue so you may want to get hold of a copy to read both our points of view.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you would like any more information about the Facebook Page itself or the overall project, I’ll be happy to help if I can.

As an aside, I’m currently having issues with RSS feeds on the Page, I was previously using the Blog RSS Feed Reader application which suited our needs and looked great, but seemed to stop updating a few months ago. I then moved to RSS-Connect and now frequently get the message “Feed Unavailable” despite the fact that if I open the feed link in another window it is fine. Does anyone have any recommendations for reliable RSS feed display applications for Facebook Pages?

Just noticed an interesting OPAC survey mentioned in the latest edition of CILIPs Library + Information Gazette which I thought would be worth sharing here.

Following on from Dave Pattern’s nationwide survey to see what we think of our OPACs in 2007 (see more details of the survey and its results on his Self-plagiarism is style blog), Bowker have launched a new survey to discover what librarians currently think about their OPACs to see whether things have improved at all.

Taken from the survey:

In October 2007, David Pattern from the University of Huddersfield published the results of his OPAC satisfaction survey and he revealed some interesting facts about the state of OPACs in the UK and the level of satisfaction, or dis-satisfaction more accurately, of the librarians who use them.

Fifteen months on from the publication of these results, Bowker have teamed up with David to survey the market again to see if there has been any improvement or change in attitude to the humble OPAC. With the increase of software solutions and content enrichment options available for OPACs, it’s time to take stock of the market once more and find out whether the nation’s OPACs have improved.

There’s a good reason to complete the survey too – for every 100 responses, Bowker will donate a gift of schoolbooks to deprived children via the Oxfam Unwrapped scheme.

Library 2.0 mashup using tags from delicious.com

Library 2.0 mashup using tags in delicious.com

Following on from a blog post at CILIP’s Library and Information Update blog about a resource produced using tags in delicious, the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills have re-purposed their initial digitalgovuk mashup and produced a library2.0 resources mashup.

The mashup uses delicious (for the resources), SimplePie (to handle the RSS feed), and Thumbshots (to create the screenshots). The page is automatically updated with anything tagged in delicious with the term library2.0.

I like this idea as a way to present similar resources, although apart from a pretty page it doesn’t add very much functionality to the standard RSS feed you could subscribe to directly from delicious. It would be good if this sort of idea could be developed further to add more features (such as ratings maybe, or rankings for more popular items, or comment ability for each resource, or further categorisation using associated tags). Only the tags at the top of the page in the tag cloud are dynamic, it would be nice if the tags underneath each item were also (I tried to click on one so I’m imagining other people may do the same).

Another issue with this is that there are currently over 70,000 items tagged with the term library2.0 in delicious, many of which may not be relevant; it’s just too general a tag to gain the most from this in my opinion. The concept is good though, and I can certainly see how this sort of thing could be useful when using more specific tags for sharing specific resources.

Kudos to the DIUS Social Media team! 🙂

This is the second of a series of posts about the iPhone/iPod Touch.

With the recent announcement of the Kindle 2 from Amazon, I thought it was a good time to talk about e-books.

Despite being a librarian with an interest in technology, I still haven’t actually seen an e-book reader in the flesh. I’d like to see a Kindle (and particularly the new version) but sadly it is still only available across the pond in USA. Sony’s e-book reader is available via Waterstones in the UK, which I recently read a great review of from Ian at Thoughts of a [wannabe] librarian. I have to admit, the review really did make me want to go and at least take a look at the Sony e-reader, if not buy one. (As an aside, I wish we had some of these types of things at our library, a while ago I heard about the “Techie Toybox” available to the library staff at Topeka & Shawnee Public County Library and thought what a great idea that was – as librarians we ought to be at the forefront of these information developments, particularly those of the e-book).

Academic libraries have gradually introduced more and more e-books (personally, I always buy an e-book version if there is one available for any reading list texts), and some public libraries have also started to purchase e-books for their users. It’s been quite a gradual process so far but I can really see e-books become very popular as the technology improves.

My own experience as an e-book user has, until recently, been limited to academic texts which i have either read online on a PC or downloaded sections as a pdf. Although this has a great advantage in terms of access (particularly useful when you are studying from a distance), it’s not as portable as a book, even if I use my netbook to read them. I read a lot on my daily travel to and from work (it take me about 90mins each way now) so I’m usually seen carrying around some form of reading, whether it be a fiction book, a non-fiction book, journal articles, magazines etc etc. – I quite often have all of the above! I have to admit, it would be nice to not have to lug so much around with me.

In order to give e-book reading for leisure a go, I recently downloaded Stanza, an e-book reader application for the iPhone/iPod Touch. Stanza is also available as a desktop reader which you can then sync with your iPhone/iPod Touch. It also has the ability to sync with the Kindle for anyone lucky enough to own one, although it can only sync by USB with the Kindle.

I’ve only tried the iPod Touch version which I have to say, I’m really impressed by. The application itself is free and there are a number of free books, newspapers and magazines – or you can purchase them using a number of different services. The screenshot below shows the first half of those services which are already listed in the online catalog, and you can also add more to the list.

Stanza Online Catalog

Stanza Online Catalog

Once you’ve chosen to download a book (I’m using the term book for ease but of course it could be a newspaper, blog etc), it is added to your Library. You can browse your library by Title, Author, Subjects, or Latest Reads. By turning the screen landscape you can also use coverflow to flick through your library (see screenshot).

Stanza Library - coverflow view

Stanza Library - coverflow view

Once you’ve chosen what you would like to read, the book opens ready for you to read. You can adjust the visual settings to suit you (you can change the font face (style), size, colour, background colour, line spacing, margin width and text alignment), as well as the effects (e.g. I have the page transition set to curl the page when I press the right hand side of the screen). I downloaded the Obnoxious Librarian from Hades to read for a bit of light entertainment. Whilst reading, you xan also tap the screen to bring up further options such as skipping to certain sections, searching within the chapter, or moving to a different chapter (see grey bars on screenshot).

Stanza book - settings whilst reading

Stanza book - settings whilst reading

At first, I thought I would find the screen too small to read for any period of time, but I’ve used it for 40 minutes and found that the size didn’t bother me. It may well do if you are reading for a few hours, but the portability is certainly a big bonus. What I really like about it is that the application opens wherever you were last reading and even if you skip between books, when you re-open the book it will always take you back to the point where you last left it. I haven’t actually chosen to buy a book on my iPod yet, but I definitely see potential, especially when you’re travelling and don’t want to carry lots of books. At the moment I am still preferring to read on paper but I think that is probably just due to convenience of having books in paper that I want to read. Who knows, in a few year time I might do almost all of my reading on a portable device.

I think e-books are definitely something that is going to grow, and I can see portable e-book readers becoming popular for those who travel a lot, and potantially students/academics who can carry one device instead of numerous hefty textbooks. I don’t think we’re going to see traditional paper books disappear any time soon but I do think we may well see a change in both academic and public library services as more and more users adopt e-books in favour of print books.

What do you think?  Are you an avid e-book reader or do you love the emotional side of sitting down and curling up with a good book? Do you think this could change the way libraries work in the future or is it just a passing trend?

I’ve had a few people who are new to Twitter recently ask me how to find people to follow, so thought it would be useful to share my experiences and also share a new resource I found this morning.

Most of the people I currently follow are either people I already knew were using Twitter (usually via mentioning it on their blog), or people I have found through them. When I first joined Twitter, I used other librarian’s lists to see who they were following. The likelihood is that I might also find some of the people they are following of interest. It’s amazing how quickly you can build up more contacts this way; each new person you follow leads you to a whole new group of potential twitterers to follow. Some of these people I had already heard of but didn’t realise they were on Twitter, others were people I didn’t know but found their updates interesting. I don’t tend to add anyone who has protected their updates unless I know who they are, purely because if I can’t see their updates I don’t know if they are relevant to me.

Since I established a core list of people to follow, I haven’t actively looked for others but if they have added me and I find their updates interesting I have tended to also follow them. I don’t want my Twitter list to become unmanageable so I don’t want to follow too many people and don’t check it often enough to follow those who post very regularly, otherwise I’d get completely swamped in unread tweets.

If you have no idea where to start when finding people to follow, you may find Just Tweet It a useful resource (found thanks to David Rothman)

Just Tweet It screenshot

Just Tweet It screenshot

Just Tweet It is a directory of twitter users categorised into different areas, one of which is librarians. I’ve added myself to the Twittering Librarians directory, and I’ll have to take a look a some on the list that I’m not currently following. There are plenty of other categories so you’re sure to be able to find people to follow from there. I’ll definitely be recommending this resource to anyone new to Twitter looking for people to follow to start them off. It may also be useful to add youself to the directory so that others can find you.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a category for twittering libraries (although there are some listed in the librarians directory), but there is a Museums directory.