7th Thing: Web-based Productivity Apps (Google Docs)

My last thing is web-based productivity applications which I explored using Google Docs. All you need is a Gmail account and you’re ready to start using the application. I had never used a web-based productivity app, even though I know they have grown increasingly popular over the last couple of years. Google Docs allows users to upload, edit or create documents, slideshows, spreadsheets, drawings and more. There is also such simplicity of sharing this documents with others.  In creating a document, there are similar formatting options to the all known Microsoft Word and you can easily add images, bullet points, etc. Another advantage to using this program is its auto-save feature which means no more losing documents in a computer crash; it seemed to be constantly updating my saved draft. One of the other neat things about this program is options of how you want to save your file type; you can save it as a .doc, .html, .pdf, etc. I have no idea how to convert file formats so this could be extremely useful in certain situations. Your documents can be easily integrated to blog posts, as well.

This program is a tough competitor with Microsoft Office but offers additional flexibility in sharing and the ability to save and open up documents from any computer with internet. One doesn’t have to worry about whether the version is compatible to the version of Windows. There’s no installation or updates. And, it’s totally free! When purchasing Microsoft Office for my new laptop last year, I was truly astonished by the cost especially since these applications are necessary for pretty much any college or work environment. Google Docs is also a great tool for online collaboration of work; a document can be accessed and added to by several different people on different computers through the facile sharing options. I could see how these apps have the potential to put the other programs out of business. There is no disagreement that they are a necessity for public access computer patrons

A library could utilize the features of Google Docs in a multitude of ways. Firstly, it is a great tool for patrons who do not have access to Microsoft Office, or any other productivity software program, or internet at home. Instructing patrons how to use this program allows them to be able to work on projects from any location with internet. Library staff could use Google Docs for their own productivity need or to create blog posts, share spreadsheets and keep track of important office related documents. The only negative thing about Google Docs is that they require internet to access or edit any of your saved information. Based on these considerations, I believe that Google Docs is an essential application for library staff to employ, for institutional purposes as well as patron assistance.

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6th Thing: Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a social media platform which I have no experience at all. Honestly, whenever I found myself confronted by a Delicious site I would usually close out and search elsewhere for information. As I had already signed up for a Yahoo username for my Flickr account, signing in and updating some basic profile information was no problem at all. But then, I got that feeling (that feeling which probably inspired the need for the entire 23 things assignment) –  “Um, what next?”

I read through the Getting Started basic tutorial and installed a bookmark button on to my browser which was also a very simple process. Then, I was off to bookmark my sites. I chose to focus on library related websites and using the bookmark option on my browser made it was easier than I originally believed. When you bookmark a site, you are encouraged to add tags and notes to help organize your social bookmarking and allow your contacts to know why you bookmarked the particular site. One of the things I appreciated was suggested tags based on the site you were on. I also like that when you go to view your bookmarks on Delicious, you can see how many other users bookmarked the same site. Delicious also allows you to view all the tags you used in your bookmarking; it’s a good way to organize your main interests and understand your focus in bookmarking these sites. I did not know anyone else’s user name so I was unable to begin networking. After using the site for a couple of days, I felt so much more confident about social bookmarking and can see why so many people covet their Delicious sites. It is an easy way to organize websites and comparable to creating a favorites folder than is accessible from any computer. It provides all the benefits of an RSS reader while allowing the user the freedom to bookmark any kind of site that they please.

There are many ways in which an institution could utilize the tool of social bookmarking. Initially, Delicious would be a handy site for library staff to use who are not stationed at the same computer all the time. It is a great way to keep track of necessary websites even if you are away from your primary desk. A reference librarian could use social bookmarking while assisting patrons away from their desk. It would also be a great tool to offer patrons who do not have access to a home computer such as a student working on a arduous research project who will need to remember several websites for resources. There is also the advantage of promoting the library through the social networking side of Delicious. Users can see the similarity in tags between their websites and the libraries, and possibly find new essential web tools via the institution’s Delicious. These social connections are the core of the necessity for libraries’ to expand their horizon to the web 2.0. Delicious would be helpful to library staff, an imperative research tool to patrons as well as a connector of interests to further interest the public in their community library as well as general information science.

Delicious?

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5th Thing: Flickr

Flickr is a picture sharing platform which is quite new to me. Signing up was simple, requiring you to register for a Yahoo account. I briefly personalized my account and uploaded a couple of my personal photos, using descriptive tags which is one of the useful characteristics that Flickr offers its users. Tagging can be found throughout several of the social media platforms examined within the 23 things program, automatically linking similar content together. I browsed contacts and groups but didn’t really see any that would be appealing to this project, unlike the other ‘things’ where I had easily found similarities and connections. You also have the option to create a group. I was really intrigued by the geotagging feature, which allows you to place marks on a world map for where your photos were taken.

http://www.flickr.com/people/becominglibrarian/

Flickr would be a useful tool for institutions to use in order to share different types of photos for promotional purposes. For example, a library could post images that focus on the layout of the building with areas labeled for utility as well as use the geo-tagging so viewers would know exactly where the library is located. This would allow those who are a little intimidated by the library to become more comfortable with the layout and knowledgeable of the atmosphere. I also like the idea of the library staff posting pictures of themselves to where they could be recognized by their Flickr stream viewers. Another way Flickr could be employed through an information institution is to display the different types of events, workshops and fundraisers they library holds. This would be advantageous to the library as well as patrons who may not know the extent of library functions.  You could use the Flickr option of putting your photos in designated sets per event.

Flickr is a simplistic yet attractive way for an institution to show off their building, staff, events or any other interesting aspect of the particular library.

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4th Thing: RSS Feeds

The next thing which I explored was Google Reader, a convenient version of a feed reader linked to your Google account. Since I had already signed up for a gmail account with this particular assignment in mind, establishing the Google Reader took less than a minute and there were helpful startup posts provided by Google. For each blog there is an option to subscribe to the entire blog or to just subscribe to the post which adds them accordingly to your reader. Once you subscribe to several blogs you are interested in, they are all easy to find and laid out together, as one continuous feed, under the Google Reader tab of your account. They feed is laid out chronologically with newest posts at the top. An interesting feature is the recommended items and recommended sources options based on the blogs you presently subscribe.  One might also choose to receive an email each time one of your subscriptions adds a new post.

I have never used a RSS Feeder before but, after exploring the platform for a couple of weeks, I could not imagine an easier way to keep up with my must-read blogs. An institution could use it to keep up with the latest library news and issues; it provides a sense of community with blogs that focus on library advocacy. I provided several reasons in my 1st Thing post regarding the importance of utilizing blogs to further the library. Feed readers only make blog subscriptions simpler and more enjoyable, bringing your blogs of choice to your Google account. Google Reader would be an effective tool in aiding all types of institutions, colleagues and friends as well as individuals in their attempt to connect and affect the larger library world.

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3rd Thing: YouTube

Th 3rd thing I explored was YouTube. I have been watching YouTube videos for years in the format of music videos, tutorials, interviews and speeches and then those random viral videos for just pure entertainment, yet I don’t believe I had ever signed up for an actual account. It was simple using my gmail account and I immediately went in to customize my account. I added some simple account information (including my blog site address, of course) and started searching for accounts to subscribe to. This aspect of YouTube reminds me a little of a RSS reader in that you are able to bring videos to you instead of going out and searching. I found useful channels such as USFLibraries, USFChannel, and the AmLibraryAssociation, all with informative videos. Another aspect of YouTube that would be especially appreciated by academic libraries is YouTube EDU, a section of the site devoted to college pages, seminars and lectures or other university related videos.

Here is my YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/becominglibrarian?feature=mhum

I think an institution could benefit greatly from having a YouTube channel. They could follow other college libraries and library organizations as well as upload their own videos on a plethora of topics. YouTube is especially great at explaining technology to those who may not be familiar; a library could upload a video on how to navigate their website and reserve books online. These how-to videos could assist seasoned patrons and attract those who have never visited the library before. The comments are also a helpful forum for public discussion and to get input to ideas or library policies, even though my experience with YouTube has allowed me to see the negativity and cruel nature of some of these anonymous individuals. YouTube makes it easy to share videos on other social media platforms, such as your blog, so you could bring YouTube to the sites your community already visits.

There are several reasons why a library institution should utilize the tools with which a YouTube channel would provide. It would further the institution and allow a record of library videos to be seen throughout your local community and all over the world.

 

 

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2nd thing: Twitter

Twitter is one of the social media platforms which I consider myself very familiar with. I have two twitter accounts: a private one where I follow a smaller amount of people, mostly personal friends with select news, sports, and editorial sources as well as an additional twitter account where I follow a much larger community and allow my information to be publicly seen. Despite that a very few of my friends have a twitter account, I enjoy this platform much more than I do my Facebook. It gives you the simplicity to just say what you want to say without all the social pressure of getting tagged in ridiculously unflattering photos or having to decide to accept or ignore the friend request of your somewhat creepy high-school softball coach.

Unlike the blog, starting a twitter account takes about two minutes, and then your’e off to find friends or just accounts of interest to follow. Maybe that is why tweeting is referred to as microblogging: the potential of the blog with less effort and time consumption. I started with some accounts that any librarian should follow, i.e. Library of Congress, NYTimes Books, OCLC, ALA Library, etc. but branched off to follow those in the field who suited my own personal interest such as GeekTheLibrary and Bret Easton Ellis. I found USF twitter accounts, including the USF Libraries twitter. One of the neat thing twitter allows users to do is to create lists, based on common interest or affiliation, and the ability to follow all users in a created list. I found a list named ‘Florida-Librarians’.

I believe every library, librarian, and information center should have a twitter. Firstly, Twitter is just such a user friendly interface to use. It doesn’t require much time to set up or to update which means that an organization has little to lose when it comes to acquiring a new account. An institution could use a twitter to create a dialogue between patron and library; a library would be able to announce events or link to a website for additional news while a patron could easily input comments and concerns. Twitter allows you to keep up with followers in your local community, as well as the community of librarians, and gives you a connection with what is going on with the people around you. Hashtags are a simple way to participate in discussions of a certain topic. You tag your tweet and follow up by clicking the linked tag, which provides a search of all tweets that are also hashtagged with the same phrase. You can retweet interesting links, quotes and comments and message people for a more private manner of communication. Even though each tweet is only 140 charachters, it can be used to link to your library’s blog, upload pictures from your Flickr of recent events, take a poll of what the people in your community think about a certain topic, and so much more. The options are quite limitless.

I’m already seeing how easy it is to link the platforms in order to get the full use out of social media. My twitter directs people to my WordPress which automatically tweets my blog updates. It’s pretty amazing how much blogging and microblogging can make an institution more involved in its community, even though all the actions are from one’s computer screen!

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1st Thing: The Blog

After reading some library based blogs and exploring the uses of wordpress for my own personal use, I feel confident that blogs are an essential tool for librarians as well as libraries.

Before starting this WordPress, I equated the world of blogs with a sort of online journal. I saw the main purpose of blogs as a place for individuals to express their thoughts. Simple. But, now, I can appreciate blogs as so much more than that. A user can reflect their thoughts on a topic and initiate a conversation through their blog comments. These comments can take a post much farther than basic journal status, bringing up debate through counterpoints validated by links to another site or blog and allow the user the opportunity to consider several points of view. This online dialogue can start connections from people who are interested in the same things as you.

If you look at the world of blogging from an institutional point of view, it is an essential forum for public discussion. Blogs allow patrons to keep updated with policies or changes within the library. An institutional blog would be great channel to spread the word about events, an effective tool for library advocacy and a way to intrigue new patrons who may have never been to a library.  A public library could link to the New York Times Best Seller’s List and let the public know if they do online book reservations. An academic library could constantly update their students on which databases they subscribe to for research purposes. Colleagues would be able to keep up with group projects and issues raised, cut back on email overkill and stay informed on changes of employee policies or ideas on how to strengthen the overall organization. Blogging is a great medium for connecting the library community and patrons, through initiating relationships and informing the public.

Of course, I know very little about WordPress and would still consider myself a novice. Some libraries may look at this as a pitfall to blogging as it is very time extensive to fully gain all the benefits of the blogosphere. It would be important to create a user friendly blog that is simple without too many gadgets or excessiveness in order to keep the viewer from from feeling overwhelmed. In some ways, blogging has it’s own language that may take some unexperienced readers time to get used to. The world of blogs requires some previous technical knowledge that not all patrons may possess.

The advantages of blogging are plentiful. Bloggers share ideas, stories, videos, images, allow dialogue through comments, and perform endless other activities. Take a look at this post regarding some non-traditional ways to use WordPress. http://designm.ag/design/11-non-traditional-uses-of-wordpress/ Pretty brilliant, right?  When I first started exploring blogging, I thought the biggest advantages to blogs was the fact that they are super environmentally friendly and super free, but blogs have unlimited potential to the individual, group or institution in accomplishing goals and aiding success.

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