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.