I’ve been asked to take part in a panel discussion as part of the European Librarians Theatre at Online Information next week titled ‘Everyone is talking but is anyone listening?‘. I’ve got some ideas from my own experience and conversations with others, but as I’ll be representing the views of the UK I wanted to open it out and ask you to help me.

If you work in a UK library, please complete the form below (or complete the online version) to let me know your views. The feedback is anonymous – though if you have something you are particularly proud of which you would like me to mention as an example of good practice – please feel free to include links in your response, leave me a comment on this post, or email me.

EDIT: Thanks for the responses, I have now removed the form as the panel discussion has passed.

On Monday, I gave a presentation on networking and marketing yourself using online tools at the New Professionals Conference in London. It was the first time I’d spoken at a conference and I really enjoyed the day; it was great to discuss my interests (i.e. new technologies) with other new professionals. I’ll write a more detailed post about the day itself soon.

I chose to talk about online networking and personal marketing as I thought it would be particularly relevant to new professionals,  and I could share my own experiences. My presentation introduced professional networking and then went on to discuss three web tools which can be used for professional networking; blogging, microblogging and social networking. I introduced each tool and how it can be used for professional networking, and shared my own experiences of them using the Joeyanne Libraryanne blog, Twitter and Facebook as examples. I concluded with 10 top tips to get the most out of using online networking tools for professional purposes.

I have added both the presentation and conference paper to my Slideshare account, and they are also embedded below (easiest to view if you use the fullscreen option). Please let me know what you think, is there anything I’ve overlooked?

A few weeks ago there were some major changes with the layout of Facebook (more on the official Facebook blog). The change has been pretty unpopular with quite a lot of people, although I have to say I personally quite like the change of focus. Facebook is now far more focused on following the activities of your friends on your home page, in a similar way to Twitter (Facebook did try to buy Twitter earlier this year so it’s probably no coincidence that they are changing in this way).

At around the same time of the change, Facebook also changed its Facebook Pages, the section of Facebook for businesses and organisations, and rebranded it as Facebook Public Profiles. There’ve been a fair few teething problems including broken pages on IE for any page with opening hours included – thankfully others have been quick to raise the issues and share fixes (particular thanks to Edith Speller, @wiilassie on Twitter). Most of the issues seem to have been sorted now )or a fix found at least!).

The changes bring organisation pages more inline with personal pages, there has also been a change of focus for organisations – instead of the information page being the main feature of the page, the Wall is the default landing page (although this can be changed in Settings if you wish).

Facebook Public Profile layout

Facebook Public Profile layout

One of the main differences is that organisations can now update their status in a similar way to personal Facebook profiles. This means that fans can (if they agree to) view short updates on their homepage from public profiles they are interested in. If enabled, they can also see any new content which has been added (e.g. if a new photo album is added it should show up in their Public Profile feed).

Although this means that the page I administer for our Learning Centres needs work (previously it was a fairly static page), I view the change as a positive step. I’m currently awaiting feedback from management on where to go next with the Facebook project but ideally I’d love to see it being used in a more dynamic way. We have a lot happening in our Learning Centres and I’d like to use Facebook as a way to connect with our users and keep them up-to-date with developments (e.g. events, new databases, vacation opening hours etc.).

I’m pleased Facebook have made this change, it’s a challenge now for us to ensure that our presence on Facebook is worthwhile and although it still won’t require much time to update (it only takes seconds to change the status), I’m hoping it will remind me (and other admins) of the importance of keeping the content fresh. If I get approval, I’d like to ensure we have more fresh information on our page such as photographs, service/resource updates, possibly even discussions about any issues users have. Anyone else have any ideas of how to make the most of the new Public Profile on Facebook?

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?

This post follows on from an earlier post about the use of Facebook Pages for Libraries. There have been a number of further developments since then both internally and externally.

Internally, our Facebook page has gradually increased interest in terms of the number of fans it has. We currently have over 200 fans – not a massive amount but not bad without any formal marketing yet. I’ve had verbal feedback from some students who feel it is a good way to be kept up-to-date with Learning Centre services and resources as they use Facebook regularly. I’ll be writing a progress report shortly to take to a review meeting in January. The page hasn’t changed much since I first set it up, but there are many developments which we could possibly include in the future (e.g. Using proxy server for database search applications, a catalogue search, use of Talis applications which are currently being developed). I now have a small marketing budget too so I need to think about the best way to promote the page.

Externally, there has been a growing interest in the use of Facebook Pages for libraries. Over the past year, I’ve had enquiries from various different external staff (mainly from UK academic libraries) asking for information about our project and help and advice with producing their own page. My advice is always to give it a go if you can, it only takes a minimal amount of time and can be used for promotion or to improve awareness of your services and resources. Common concerns seem to be based on privacy issues and the worry that students will see the library presence as an invasion of their space. From my personal point of view, I don’t see it as an invasion of privacy as students themselves choose to view the page and even if they decide to join as a fan they can still have a private profile. Jane Secker recently presented Whose space is it anyway? at a Facebook conference at Liverpool John Moores University about how libraries are using Facebook, and used our page as one of her case studies. Following on from that, I have been asked to write a paper for ALISS Quarterly on our use of Facebook which I’m currently in the process of writing.

It certainly seems that the use of Facebook in libraries is becoming more mainstream, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to be involved in the early developments.

How about you – is Facebook working for you? Does your library has a Facebook Page or are you maybe thinking of developing one? Do you know of any particularly good applications for libraries to use? Please share in the comments. For those interested in what others are doing with Facebook I recommend reading the comments on David Lee King’s post What can you do with a Facebook page?.

I’ve already passed this on to some who I know are using Facebook within their libraries but I thought I’d mention it here as well.

Jane Secker of the LASSIE project is talking to some non-librarians at the end of this month about how libraries are currently using Facebook (if at all).

Please complete her short survey if you have time to help with the research.

Thanks to a post by Nicole Engard, I have added the Facebook Blog Networks application to my Facebook page and registered ownership of Joeyanne Libraryanne.

Facebook Blog Networks is a way to display on your Facebook profile which blogs you own, author and read so that others can find interesting blogs. It also means that each blog registered on there has it’s own page where the feed is displayed (once you have enough fans!), and where readers have the opportunity to review and leave comments about the blog as you can see in the screenshot below (click for larger image, select All Sizes and then Original)

Facebook Blog Networks

If you do add the application on Facebook (or already have it) please add my blog to the list of those you read. It would be nice to see if any Joeyanne Libraryanne readers are on Facebook. 🙂

For those of you who (like me) check Facebook on a daily basis, you probably noticed the new addition of the chat bar on the bottom of the screen yesterday.

I’d previously read blog posts about the Facebook chat feature and was looking forward to seeing what it would be like. Luckily I was able to have a play as a fellow Facebooker and librarian, Katharine Widdows was also online and wanting to give it a go. I have to say, I’m very pleasantly surprised. The instructions when you first log on are very clear, concise and easy to understand. By default, you are online as soon as you log on, but you can change this if you wish (I know some people found it disruptive). You can easily see who else is online by clicking on the Online Friends tab (see below), and start a conversation with them by clicking on their name.

At first I wasn’t aware when people had messaged me (I’m a terrible tab flicker and often leave tabs open even when I’m not using them). The chat bar does show when you have new messages and the tab header changes to say “New Message” so you can still tell if you’re on another tab but its not too disruptive if you leave it on unintentionally (no flashing pop ups or anything like that!). You can choose to open it in a separate window if you want to much like Meebo too, or add it to your sidebar in Firefox.

I think it’s great for quickly catching up with people and having short conversations. Katharine and I discussed how it could maybe be used as a library enquiry service, but this would only really work if users added the librarian as a personal friend, which many may wish not to do.

You can currently only have one to one conversations but I think Facebook may well continue to develop things like group conversations if it takes off. That sort of thing could be great for students doing group work (or staff working on a project) to discuss their progress or ideas.

I’m certainly impressed with Facebook’s initial developments into a chat tool, the main advantage being how quick and easy it is to use.

A common concern with regards to Facebook (certainly in my experience anyway) is the lack of privacy and the amount of information which is potentially available about you to anyone who wants it.

I’ve always worked on the philosophy that if I volunteer to put information about myself on the web then I must accept that anyone may view this information, but I know there are a lot of people who want to share their information with some people but want to be able to control who can see such information.

I was very pleased to see this on my Facebook homepage recently:

Now you can use friend lists to control exactly who can see what. We’ve also added the option to share information with “Friends of Friends”. For more details, check out the Privacy page.

Your Limited Profile is now a friend list on your Friends page. All of the same restrictions apply to the people on it.

Facebook has the option of allowing people to only view a limited profile and you can choose what sections of your profile are on that limited profile. It’s now even easier to control this on your friends list so that you can easily add people to the group you would like to only see you limited profile. You could decide for example that you don’t mind old school friends seeing what you are up to now but you don’t want them to know your personal contact details or allow them to see your photos.

I’m glad Facebook has responded to the negative concerns over privacy and I hope they continue to develop ways to make people feel more in control of their information. I know when I first proposed producing a Facebook page at work, some of my colleagues wanted to join to see what it was all about but they didn’t want to have their information on the internet for all to see and were put off joining for that reason. I’m hoping improvements to privacy settings will help overcome these issues and allow more people to feel confident in joining Facebook.

Of course, Facebook still holds any information you add so there will always be that concern but at least they are trying to allow you more control over what members of the public can see.

I’d heard of FriendFeed before today, but a Lifehacker post I read this morning encouraged me to give it a go.

If you haven’t heard of it before, FriendFeed is basically an aggregator of all your online social networks. It pulls together your updates from blogs, video services like YouTube, social bookmarking services like del.icio.us, picture sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa, wishlists like Amazon wishlist, etc etc! You can see in the screenshot the services is currently covers.

friendfeed

It only took a matter of minutes to register and add my feeds so I now have a nice aggregated feed that will give updates on all my different services.

I can imagine this sort of thing could be very useful for keeping up to date with what people are up to via just an RSS feed, although to be honest I don’t see myself using it very much. FriendFeed encourage you to find your friends on their website but to me that sort of defeats the object, I guess you would only have one website to visit then to see what friends are up to but you might as well add the feeds to your RSS reader (presuming you use RSS feeds).

Having said that, I’m having trouble adding my feed to my Bloglines account. It seems to work fine in Google Reader (I use this as a back-up reader), but Bloglines doesn’t recognise the feed.

Anyway, if you are interested in giving it a go please feel free to subscribe to my feed and let me know in the comments if you have a feed to share or any opinions about the service. I imagine more and more of these aggregators will be appearing to help people control their many online accounts so it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.