16 September 2012

Essential knowledge, skills and attributes

I think the most important attribute for information professionals in the Web 2.0 world is to meet people where they are.  This involves not only having a skillset which embraces all of the types of Web 2.0 technology which library users are using or want to use, but most importantly maintaining an openness to the possibility that our users might be either way more savvy with some tools and just not interested in others, no matter how excited we are about them.  If we develop a tool to reach our users and all we hear are crickets chirping, we haven’t done our homework.  As Fudrow stated (2007, in Harvey, 2009), “Web and library 2.0 isn’t about finding the next ‘new’ technology, but instead about finding the ‘right’ one”.  

The key is, I believe, to embrace the ‘radical trust’ which Farkas (2007, 20:00) describes and to be willing to make full use of user-driven content and the opportunity for conversation which Web 2.0 provides all organisations now.  Our users have numerous channels to be a powerful voice in the way we design and deliver our services, be they via “telephone, Skype, IM, SMS, texting, e-mail, virtual reference” (Abrams, 2007) , Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, virtual communities, or any other means of communication.   As Farkas says, “Academic Library 2.0 is a state of mind” which sees our users as “partners in the future of developing our libraries” (2007, 19:40- 20:21). 

This shouldn’t paint a picture of information specialists just riding a wave of user trends, but instead of using these new tools to really listen to our users, to gather data about their use of our services in ways which tell us what is working, what could work better and how we can add value to their information experience.  It is up to information specialists to add value to users’ experience by matching awareness about, and delivery of, resources and services to their needs, which is something we’ve always done to some extent. The difference is that now we have countless new tools to choose from to have that dialogue be transparent, targeted and timely.  
Abram, S. (2007). Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and Librarian 2.0: Preparing for the 2.0 world. Online International Conference Proceedings, December 2007. Retrieved from http://ucv.academia.edu/RodriguezJorge/Papers/1064417/Web_2.0_Library_2.0_and_Librarian_2.0_Preparing_for_the_2.0_World

Farkas, M. (2007). Building academic library 2.0. In UCBerkeleyevents (YouTube).  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_uOKFhoznI


Harvey, M. (2009). What does it mean to be a science librarian 2.0? Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Summer. doi: 10.5062/F4M906KW   

10 September 2012

Library site design - technical aspects

My own criteria for effective library website design are:

  1.       Keep the site simple, don’t overwhelm users with elements;
  2.      Make sure information and news is timely and up to date
  3.       Don’t rely on text-based information, mix it up with icons, images and video
  4.      Mobile, mobile, mobile – compatible apps for iPhones, Android and Blackberry and tablets
  5.     Room for feedback with a transparent approach to comments, queries, complaints and considered responses and answers
  6.      Embrace redundancy – use different terms and plain, jargon-free language to point to the same services
  7.    Use analytic tools to find out what users are actually doing on the site, where they came in from, where they went, what worked and what failed
  8.    Don’t bury chat, phone and email methods of contacting the library on the page – make a range of communication methods obvious
  9.  Build and maintain a social networking identity through links from the web page from and to for example Facebook, twitter, RSS, and blogging presences in the user community
  10.   Use an iterative process of identifying needs and issues, trying solutions and getting feedback to solve design and usability problems

Observing the Darebin Libraries website, here is my evaluation, with scoring out of 10 for each item:

            1. 8/10 The site has just enough elements to make it interesting without being too ‘busy’
            2. 9/10 News about library events and activities is up to date and provides relevant details
            3. 9/10 There is a balanced mix of text, icons, images and video
            4. 0/10 There is not as yet a mobile app found for the Library
            5. 0/10 Room on the site for comments and feedback was not found
            6. 7/10 There are several ‘ways in’ for information about many of the services, such as online resources, and the catalogue search is available on every page
            7. N/A I was unable to determine what kinds of analytics are being used
            8. 8/10 Contact information is readily available and there are a range of options provided.
            9. 4/10 The site features an RSS feed option, with an explanation.  Brief explanations of Facebook or twitter are provided via the site search tool, but there does not appear to be a library presence on these sites, which could increase the Library's profile.
            10. N/A This is difficult to determine as this is information is not public.  A search on the word ‘feedback’ lands on the collection development policy page.

Governor, J., Hinchcliffe, D, & Nickull, D. (2009). Web 2.0 architectures (1st ed.). Sebastopol, Calif.  O’Reilly Media.

Mathews, B. (2009). Web design matters: Ten essentials for any library site. Library Journal 134(3), 24-25. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6634712.html
McBurnie, J. (2007). Your online identity: key to marketing and being found. FreePint Features.  Retrieved from http://web.freepint.com/go/features/2510