My apologies

November 23, 2006

my apologies all; that last file attachment didn’t work.

i have updated my previous post with a link to the file…. it decided that creating a new page would be great…

 i had a hard time getting back into wordpress again!

IM in the LIBS

November 21, 2006

Hey all;

 first, a couple of admin issues:

1) has anyone else been having huge problems with admin’ing their wordpress blog since say, 2 months ago? whenever i try to create a new post, it is VERY slow… and often times, when i am done a post, and click PUBLISH (thats right, not SAVE, but PUBLISH) it just SAVES the post and doesn’t actually post it! at any rate… i just hope that i am not alone 😀

2)”IM” to me seems like an american term… i don’t hear anyone my age (or younger) use the term IM… i think it is one of those words cooked up by older people trying to be ‘hip’… like when your friends would come over and visit you at your parent’s house when you were younger, and your parents, when chatting with your friends, would use the words “HIP” or “Groovy” and sound completely archaic. for this reason, i will use the term Message and/or messaging when i am refering to IM and IM’ing. THis is the term i have always used, and the term i hear the ‘kids’ use at work :D.

i would like to talk about the use of Messaging within the library used as a tool for virtual reference.

 at the university of guelph, we use a pay-for commercial virtual reference solution called “DOCUTEK”, which, as far as i understand from the workers who use it, is less than perfect. this service permits patrons to email questions in, and to request ‘live chat’ with an individual working the reference desk. A key feature of docutek is the ability to ‘cobrowse’ with patrons (Cobrowsing definition: Synchronizing browser access to the same sites. As one user browses the Web, the other users trail along automatically and link to and view the same pages from their browsers). the need for this feature becomes of greater importance as an increasing number of a library’s services migrate to the online realm. In discussions with the staff members who work on virtual reference with the docutek service, apparently this ‘cobrowsing’ feature typically does not work. It seems that at the University of Guelph we experience the same strict system requirement issues as outlined in the Aaron Schmidt article which leads to the incorrect functioning of this co-browsing feature.

 A few years ago (before my time at the McLaughlin Library), Virtual reference assistance via msn chat was added as a method of receiving reference help. MSN was chosen because of the sheer number of MSN users in our environment: it seems MSN Messenger is used more often in canada, and AOL Instant Messenger is used more often in the US.

 this new service offering, from what i understand from those staff members working Virtual Reference, has been quite popular. However, only the chat feature was being used, and  co-browsing was not offered. what we didn’t realize was that MSN actually has the capacity to allow for co-browsing as well.

 when WIndows Live Messenger (the newest version of MSN messenger) was released in the summer of 2006, co-browsing became available. I put together an instructional presentation for all of the library staff about ‘advanced use of MSN messenger’ and had over 50 staff members in 3 showings! in this presentation, i demonstrated how to use cobrowsing within MSN, as well as some other ‘advanced’ msn features, such as file sharing and remote assistance. This offering seemed quite well received, and with the cobrowsing feature available within Windows Live Messenger, there is the possibility to provide reliable online assistance and cobrowsing to our patrons via the platform they are most familiar with.

please see the informational sheet ( MSN file sharing ) that i used for the staff training:

Banning Social Software

November 15, 2006

I choose to be apart of this group project on Online Social Networks (OSN’s) not because of the date at which it fell (although it was strategically due right after conference week… i give you that… :D), but because this is the topic for the reason behind why i took this entire course.

 In this post, i’d like to discuss an issue raised by Meredith Farkas concerning some libraries blocking OSN sites. i think back to LIS 501 when we spoke about the roots of the library; we spoke about how there are several key factors to libraries, including: storage of books/materials, access to knowledge, and also a location for the democratic discourse. Now, one of the things i thought about was that in the ‘digital library’ age as many of the services/resources provided by libraries are moving to the digital realm, one thing that has yet to move to the digital realm is the library as a hub of democratic discourse. this is where i feel OSN’s are CRITICAL to the continued digital development of libraries.

Ebooks, E journals, OPAC’s, online virtual reference, chatting with librarians over MSN, online course pacs, e-reserve, RACER, IUTS, the ability to renew books online… these are ways in which library services have moved online…. but again, notice the one thing missing: the library is a place where people meet to discuss issues… in 501 we called it ‘democratic discourse…”…. where is this feature? seemingly, almost every other library service has been born to the digital world, but not the social networking function also served by the library.

As we see huge amounts of teens/students/adults interacting in online worlds, sharing their opinions on blogs, writing academic entries on wikipedia, posting comments on blog entries… these are all very academic scholarly ways of interacting with others that have not yet found their way into libraries (for the most part). So, as these technologies grow in popularity, libraries should be embracing them, not blocking patrons from using them to interact with one another. As the ALA states on their website: “ALA promotes the creation, maintenance, and enhancement of a learning society…” what about a society that is slowly moving online? how counter-productive is it then  to actively block these technologies which can move democratic discourse into an online realm with all of the other online library services ?

Let me first start off by saying that i was part of the group who presented “online social networks” this week.

As the group of us began deciding on which online social networking websites we would examine, something dawned on us: “the whole internet is an online social network!”

 now, certainly, there are some sites which incorporate more online social interaction than some other sites, for example, myspace is definately an ‘online social network’, but what about Digg? if you head over to the group presentation this week on online social networks (PLUG PLUG PLUG), you’ll find out how it is that digg works… what do you think? is it an Online Social Network? there are social aspects to digg, the stories that are ‘dug’ the most make it to the front page, users ‘digging’ a news story technically interact together by showing a consensus on which news articles they ‘dug’… but is this degree of social interaction “enough” for you to consider it an online social network? there really is no clear definition of exactly how much social interaction is required for a site to get pigeon-holed as an ‘online social network’. should we be happy with ‘degrees of social-ness’ for online social networks, that is, are you ok with ‘digg’ and, say, myspace, being in the same ‘online social network’ category considering the great degree of seperation that exists between them in terms of how social the sites are? is any degree of social interaction, no matter how ‘asynchronous’ the interaction is? or is synchronis communication/interaction the key to making it into the ‘online social network’ category?