About face

Netvibes-iconFor sometime now a lass in libraryland has been branding the college library and developing a 2.0 presence. The journey to this point hasn’t been straightforward and has taken longer than planned, over a year, but has successfully improved communication with users and helped increase awareness of the library beyond the four walls of the college.

The story so far: Once upon a time (Easter 2009) a lass in libraryland started exploring web 2.0 tools with the intention of utilising them to keep library users up to date with all things libraryland. She found herself unable to utilise her first port of call, Facebookdue to security restrictions on the college computers.

She therefore set up a Twitter account (unbranded) and began to keep users up to date. Despite concerted efforts to promote this development to students/staff uptake was slow and it soon became clear that her users were not very active on Twitter, however the number of external followers who seemed interested in the information ALIL was tweeting proved quite high. When the marketing manager decided to open a college Twitter account ALIL took the opportunity to come out of the corporate closet and brand her feed with the library name.

Having officially ‘come out’ and built a good number of external followers the library needed to find another way to connect with its physical users via 2.0 whilst maintaining its existing presence in the wider world. Facebook remained untouchable so a lass in libraryland explored the wonders of setting up a library blog…

After exploring the obvious blog sites and not finding quite what she wanted a lass in libraryland turned to Tumblr which she had been playing with at home. It offered easy and flexible posting,  had the feel of a live feed and could be linked to the library Twitter account – this allowed ALIL to create visually stimulating posts on Tumblr which could be simultaneously sent to the library Twitter feed without double inputting.

A lass in libraryland started to market the Tumblr URL to students and staff, adding links to the library pages of the student website and where she had previously sent out current awareness emails to students/staff she now sent emails featuring a couple of images and links to the Tumblr and Twitter URLs for further information. ALIL also added the URLs to her email signature to increase awareness. Google Analytics was utilised on the Tumblr site allowing ALIL to monitor use or non-use thereof.

In early 2010 a small miracle occurred which allowed a lass in libraryland to utilise Facebook, a small glitch with the college server/security software and the subsequent solution resulted in Facebook becoming accessible on all college computers where previously one machine in the building had had access (marketing department). With a dizzying swiftness a lass in libraryland decided to make hay while the sun shone and attempted to set up an account. Facebook however had other plans and refused to allow her to set up a personal account under the name of the library, this was particularly frustrating as following consultation with the marketing department it became clear the college Facebook page had been set up as a personal account. After ascertaining this option was no longer available ALIL took the plunge and set up a page for the library instead (in order to do this she had to set up a seperate personal account to act as an administrator for the library page). The usual marketing followed and within a few days a number of students and staff had begun to tick the ‘Like This’ button on the page.

Just as the Facebook page was taking off a lass in libraryland was greeted by the news that plans to re-block Facebook on student computers and ultimately staff machines were afoot (excepting the marketing department). Despite reasoned argument, attempted bribery, much booing and hissing it became clear that Facebook access on college computers was living on borrowed time, at least for the present. A lass in libraryland knew that students/staff would still access the service at home and on their mobile phones, so needed to find a way to update the library page from her on site computer without access to the library Facebook account.

Tumblr rode to a lass in libraryland’s rescue like a knight on a white charger – ALIL linked the library Tumblr account to the Facebook account from home and was henceforth able to simultaneously post to both Facebook and Twitter via Tumblr from her college computer.

During this period a lass in libraryland had been trying to get permission from college management to develop a Netvibes page for students – the idea being to provide a library portal of useful resources/information and realtime links to 2.0 feeds. She created an unbranded test site to demonstrate its usefulness and waited for the all clear, hoping to go live in the summer term of 2009.  It took over a year for permission to be granted but towards the end of the 2009/10 academic year a yay was finally received. After celebrating with cake a lass in libraryland finalised the Netvibes page and prepared it for launch in September 2010 – links have been created on the library pages of the student website, the URL has been added to ALIL’s email signature, the library’s Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook accounts have been utilised on the portal, a section on the portal has been added to the library handbook and a question on the portal has been added to the library induction exercise…

So a lass in libraryland can finally say that the library service and its brand lived happily ever after. The end of the 2009/10 academic year finds the service operating a nice range of 2.0 tools, the proud owner of a clear/identifiable brand and in September will unveil the library portal to all comers.

But this is not where the tale ends, whilst the above developments were gathering pace and the Netvibes approval hung in the balance a lass in libraryland was attempting to meet up with the Vice Principal to discuss VLEs. Once again this meeting took over a year to pin down and …but perhaps that is a blog for another day.

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A babe in the wood

A Lass in Libraryland thinks it is probably time to review her experiences in the world know as 2.0 and how their use has affected her work-a-day world.

120px-Aiga_toiletsq_women_inv_svgALIL originally intended to do a bit of professional tweeting (finally being encouraged into action as a result of an article by Phil Bradley in the April ’09 issue of Update), the initial wish simply to make contact with other library professionals hanging out in the libraryland cloud.  However, having taken those first few steps into the Twitterverse ALIL was propelled headfirst into the wider world of web 2.0.

Since ALIL started this blog back in March 2009 she has found herself exploring and getting to grips with a number of 2.0 tools, almost a year has passed and she finds herself with two online identities, two blogs, two domain names, an iphone, apps, contributing to wikis, three Twitter accounts, a Netvibes page, a Tumblr page, need we go on?

So the question we must ask is has ALIL found her wonderings in 2.0 world useful? And have they altered the way she works?

The simple answers are yes and yes!  From being a simple Tweeter ALIL has become much more confident with the tools that are out there and is not scared to try out new ones.  On both a personal and professional level she is finding many uses for the 2.0 tools which she has stumbled across and is finding that they are altering the way she works on a daily basis.  Her library users are much more informed and her ability to communicate with them is faster and much more interactive.

To be blunt A Lass in Libraryland can’t remember what life and work were like before that fateful day back in March when she first dipped her toe into the pool known as 2.0… little did she know it would turn out to be an ocean!

The devil is in the detail

rssSometime ago a lass in libraryland found herself trawling the app store for interesting free toys to add to her iTouch and stumbled across Free RSS Reader. She downloaded the said app and added the feed URLs of a few libraryland Twits and hey presto instant feeds. The joy of not having to log onto a computer to check feeds was a real plus and saved ALIL lots of time.However the time it took to add new feeds caused ALIL much frustration – having to remember URLs and enter them into the app manually quickly became a chore…

Then as if by magic Apple released the OS 3.0 software update and all of a sudden the app was transformed from a useful tool to a ‘can’t do without’ necessity – a simple cut and paste and new feeds could be added in seconds.

Now ALIL is not only up-to-date with all the blogs she reads but can add new blogs in a trice.

If you haven’t already got the Free RSS Reader app or 3.0 update on your iTool of choice (which ALIL knows is highly unlikely, being an up-to-date streetwise, informed bunch) then ALIL would recommend immediate action to rectify this oversight…

On the move

on_the_move

A Lass in Libraryland has been stepping outside her comfort zone this week and then some…

Having set up a blog a while back she had become more aware of other blogs, how they looked, how they were set out and their impact. Sometimes she found herself experiencing blog and domain name envy…

While ALIL wallows in all things 2.0 she could never be described as geekzilla and as a result she wouldn’t know CSS code from toffee and as for altering templates, forget it. So she found herself wondering how to get a domain name all of her own and how to get it to interact with her blog… whilst pondering the complications of altering templates and fiddling with style sheets.

The whole transferring from ‘blog.com’ to ‘blog.org’ to make the most of the added flexibility was a non-starter unless she could locate a good hosting service or a spare server knocking about the house… oh and some sadly lacking geekability.

A cast about located a possible alternative, a CMS that offered intuitive and flexible templates, which ALIL could learn to adapt as her competence levels grew. The platform would fully host the blog and allowed integration of domain names should ALIL desire. The slight downside – that the service, unlike ‘blog.com’, was not community driven (non-open source) – meant the development speed of the platform would be dictated by the providers, but this issue paled when ALIL had a play with the templates, widgets and setup options offered. To ensure she wasn’t missing anything ALIL also read reviews and dug for dirt… what she found amongst other things was positive feedback about support ticket response rates and some fantastic looking blogs.

In a total of two hours ALIL had signed up to her new CMS, set the templates and transferred her blog data from its previous home. Next she located an appropriate domain service and registered www.scarpagirl.com, created a new CNAME record in the DNS interface and pointed it at her new blog provider.

Although the ‘finished’ product doesn’t look very different from the old blog it should grow with ALIL, at a pace dictated by her and with a comforting level of provider support.

So give a lass in libraryland a neb at that ‘Basic CSS’ tome and put your damn toffee away.