Tools

Web 2.0 services and concepts make it easier to facilitate group use of information and allow for the creation of new data and value for library members. We hope you’ll find the following tools greatly beneficial as you select and apply Web 2.0 to drive and implement innovation in your library.

What You Need to Stay Future-Focused

By creating an environment of continuous learning, by finding ways to stay aware of changing trends and needs, and by staying committed to thoughtful planning, it is possible to achieve that future-focused service vision in your rural library.

How can your library achieve goals and prepare for an unknown future? When doing strategic technology planning, here are seven key areas to consider:

  1. Staff technology skills (and volunteers and trustees) as a continuous priority. Make learning an expected part of everyone’s work routine. Find ways to teach one another and to help keep each other appraised of changes and ideas. This culture of learning will help alleviate some of the stress around not feeling “caught up”. The reality is, there will always be more to learn. Try to embrace this thought and even make it fun!
  2. The continued development of patron skills. Some people come to the library with strong technology skills and high expectations. Find ways to stay aware of popular tools and “gadgets”. Are you noticing a lot of people carrying iPods or other MP3 players? Ask questions and pay attention to the uses. There is also a need, however, to always look at the gaps. Who does not know about technologies that could potentially benefit them? What role can the library play in closing that gap?
  3. A means for continued awareness and planning need to be in place. Some ideas to be discussed in more depth later in this section include the development of a new technology advisory group, a guest speakers series, and/or panel discussions on technological topics.
  4. A larger library world connection to glean new ideas/create partnerships for learning, purchasing, and more. Use online resources like WebJunction to connect with librarians from many places. Consider organizing face-to-face meetings or partnerships with libraries in your geographic area, too.
  5. Community outreach and communication to develop relationships. The goal here is for the library to be seen as a center of technology in the community. Are there other.
  6. The Pew Internet Reports site offers an overview of the changing ways in which people use technology. You may also find it useful to view census data for your community – past, present, and future predictions – and to think about the implications they may have for library services, including public computers.
  7. Advocating for the library! Make sure that you get the word out about all of the great services you offer. Do not take for granted that people know about the technology that is available in today’s libraries. Many do not. When you begin offering a new service, make sure to highlight it prominently with publicity efforts. Develop relationships with your local legislators. When a library technology issue is being discussed in the legislature, make sure your local legislators know how the issue affects your library and community.

Collaboration Tools Chart

CATEGORY EXAMPLE OF TOOLS
Blogs and microblogs — Short for “Weblog,” a blog is an easily updated Web site, generally in reverse-chronological order by date. These Web sites range from personal diaries to professional tools, and you can often subscribe to them via RSS using an aggregator. Often, they contain links to and comments on other online information. Microblogging involves sending brief posts to a personal Web space or a microblog site (such as Twitter). Microblog posts are short (Twitter limits them to 140 characters). Blogs represent the fastest-growing medium of personal publishing and the newest method of individual expression and opinion on the Internet.

Blogger Blogging software owned and powered by Google.

Movable Type Blogging platform for organizations.

Twitter A microblogging service that allows users to immediately share short (140 characters) snippets of content via text messaging, the Web and other interfaces. The New York Times called Twitter “one of the fastest-growing phenomena on the Internet.” TIME Magazine said, “Twitter is on its way to becoming the next killer app.”

WordPress Personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, Web standards and usability.

Social bookmarks and tags — This involves online services that allow you to store your bookmarks online, categorize them and share them with other site visitors interested in similar topics. Tags are descriptive terms to categorize online content. Tagging content allows it to be shared with others interested in similar topics; multiple tags can be given to the same content. Also referred to as “folksonomies,” created by folks.

Delicious A “social bookmarking” site. Users can store URLs, personal comments and descriptive tags to organize Web pages. It is like a Favorites folder that is located on the Internet, and it can be accessed from any computer.

Digg Digg is a user-driven social content Web site, where news and online content are submitted and rated through online votes and displayed in order of most votes.

Squidoo is an easy-to-build Web page that can point to blogs, favorite links, RSS feeds, Flickr photos, Google maps and/or eBay auctions.

SuprGlu helps you gather your content from all over the Web and publish it in one place.

Multimedia sharing (including audio, photo and video) — Podcasting involves putting audio content on the Internet, and may be delivered via RSS feeds so that subscribers receive new content automatically. Podcasts can be downloaded to iPods or other players, or listened to on a computer. Screencasting is the capture of a video of computer screen activity (for example, to show people in real time where to click, what to type or to capture video for tutorials, presentations, etc.).

Audacity is free, open-source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. Many libraries offer podcasts of book talks, library news items and book reviews.

Camtasia and CamStudio are common screencasting tools. Flickr is an online photo management and sharing application that includes the use of tagging. You can share your favorite photos with the world or securely and privately show photos to only your friends and family.

Live Plasma allows users to map music and movie interests.

Pandora makes a streaming “radio station” just for you, based on your ratings of favorite music.

Picasa is a free software download from Google that helps you find, organize and share your photos.

SlideShare provides a place to share and discover slideshows and presentations.

YouTube has been called the “million-channel people's network” and allows for the viewing and uploading of videos.

Collaboration, projects and productivity — The collaboration and community evident in Web 2.0 even led TIME Magazine to name the Person of the Year in 2006 as “You.” The magazine designated Web 2.0 as a revolution and a massive social experiment. “The new Web is…a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.…it's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.”

Furl allows you to save a copy of your favorite Web sites with 5 GB of free storage space.

Google Docs and Spreadsheets provides an online tool for individual or group document creation and editing.

SurveyMonkey.com is a tool to create and publish custom online surveys in minutes and then view results graphically and in real time.

Ta-da Lists creates simple, sharable to-do lists.

Writeboard creates sharable, Web-based text documents that let you save every edit, roll back to any version and easily compare changes.

Zoho offers a suite of online Web applications geared towards increasing productivity and collaboration. Includes a word processor, spreadsheet application, presentation tool, hosted wiki, notebook, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, etc.

Gaming — This is not just for fun! Libraries find that offering gaming attracts teens and young adults to other library services and is a good marketing technique.

eGames Generator allows you to create your own custom learning games. Since eGames Generator is online software, there are no downloads or installations necessary: You can create a game in just a few minutes.

Neopets involves keeping a pet alive in this online community; great for children.

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Not just a game, there are opportunities for communicating with the public, including in the library on “Info Island.”

Instant messaging and communication — Differs from email in that conversations are able to happen in real time. Most services offer an indication of whether people on one’s list of contacts are currently online and available to chat. This may be called a “Buddy List.” In contrast to emails or phone, the parties know whether the peer is available. Examples include AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), Yahoo! and MSN, also embedded in gmail.com, Facebook, etc.

Meebo is a Web-based instant-messaging application that combines all the major IM services into one.

Skype is an Internet call software and service.

Trillian is a software application for instant messaging. Compatible with all the major IM applications.

Library and book-related tools — People are doing library-related things online for fun!

Social software can provide ways to communicate, collaborate, educate and market services to patrons and other community members. Libraries can be the online hub of their communities just as they have traditionally been the physical community center. Often, a library is the only place where someone can get free connectivity, free training and free assistance and access to technological information.

Goodreads and Shelfari. Like Facebook and MySpace, users sign up for an account, post a profile, add friends, create personalized online bookshelves, find reading recommendations based on friends' shelves and reviews, connect with authors and the literary community, read about book signings and view excerpts.

Library Elf is a personal reminder service for library users that will send library notifications, such as overdue reminders with email alerts and text message alerts for holds.

LibraryThing catalogs your books online, easily, quickly and for free.

Scriblio (formerly WPopac) is a free, open-source CMS and OPAC with faceted searching and browsing features based on WordPress.

Mashups and widgets — Mashups involve combining multiple tools and Web sites to create a new interface, product or tool, such as a Web site. Widgets are small, specific applications that can reside on a desktop or Web site, such as displaying a weather forecast, playing a game or a list of activities. Widgets are simple to develop and easy to install on a Web page. Most require a few images and expertise with JavaScript and XML to create.

Mashup Dashboard lists hundreds of mashups, with new updates daily.

Web 2.0 Mashup Matrix is a programmable Web 2.0 mashup.

Yahoo! Widgets allows you to create, find and rate widgets.

“Real Simple Syndication” or “Rich Site Summary” (RSS) and aggregators — You can subscribe to RSS-enabled blogs, newspapers, journals and other online content so that updates automatically come to you, rather than having to return to the original site to see if new material has been posted. It’s a way of packaging Web items such as blog entries in a stripped-down, XML-based format so that they can be imported into other Web pages. Most blog-hosting services automatically create RSS versions of blog posts. That means bloggers can “syndicate” their content across the entire Web, while readers can subscribe to RSS feeds. An aggregator, news reader or feed reader is a usually free service that allows you to subscribe to and read blogs, news or any type of feeds in one customized Web page. It is client software that uses a Web feed to retrieve syndicated Web content. Subscriptions can also be created for podcasts, photos, searches or other media. Web sites publish updates — called “feeds” — that indicate when new content has been posted. Aggregators automatically update and keep track of what you’ve read!

Bloglines is a Web-based RSS reader, which includes blogging capabilities.

FeedBurner is a provider of media distribution and services for blogs and RSS feeds. It offers tools to assist bloggers, podcasters and commercial publishers promote, deliver and profit from their content on the Web.

Google Reader is Google’s RSS reader in its “lab.”

NewsGator Online is a free, Web-based RSS aggregator.

Search engines — Search technologies today have moved beyond traditional content retrieves. They are now designed to combine existing Internet search engines with new and improved models that allow for stronger connections to user preferences, collaboration, collective intelligence and a richer user experience.

BlogPulse is an automated trend discovery system for blogs. BlogPulse applies machine-learning and natural-language processing techniques to discover trends in the dynamic world of blogs.

Google Blog Search allows you to find blogs on your favorite topics.

LibWorm: Librarianship RSS Search and Current Awareness is intended to be a search engine, a professional development tool and a current awareness tool for people who work in libraries or care about libraries.

Podscope lets you search the spoken word for audio and video that interests you.

Podzinger is an audio and video search engine.

Technorati searches and organizes blogs and other forms of user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.).

Top 25 Web 2.0 Search Engines Online Education Database’s Top 25 Web 2.0 Search Engines.

Social and collaborative networks — Researchers are discovering that beyond the original digital divide, separating those who owned technology from those who didn’t, there is now an increasing social divide, termed technocultural isolation. Social technologies are connecting people and providing communication structures in more ways than ever before. Even teens are conversing and networking across countries and cultures. Those who do not have continual access to these tools will be isolated and at a societal disadvantage, particularly in the workforce.

Classmates.com allows you to connect with school friends.

Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.

FriendFeed enables you to keep up-to-date and discuss the Web pages, photos, videos and music that your friends and family are sharing.

Friendster is a social network emphasizing friendships and the discovery of new people through friends. Search for old friends and classmates, stay in better touch with friends and share photos and videos.

LinkedIn strengthens and extends your existing network of professional contacts.

MySpace is an online community that lets you meet your friends’ friends and share day-to-day events.

Ning allows creation of public or private social networks, including groups, forums and sharing.

WebJunction is an online library community, created by librarians for librarians, and includes articles, forums, etc.

Wikis — Collaborative Web sites where anyone can create new content or edit existing content. Share staff knowledge through wikis, communicate regarding policies and brainstorm on projects.

Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki This wiki was created to be a one-stop shop for great ideas and information for all types of librarians.

LISWiki The Library and Information Science Wiki, a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

PBwiki lets you quickly set up your own free, hosted, password-protected wiki to edit and share information. It’s as easy as a peanut butter sandwich.

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that allows anyone to add or edit the entries. With over 10 million articles written in 253 languages, it is the world’s most comprehensive (though not most reliable) reference work. It may be the largest collaborative literary work in history. Wikipedia proclaims it is a project that attempts to summarize all human knowledge.

Fifteen Ways to Effectively Use Web 2.0 Tools

It’s all about sharing information, just using new tools. Instead of pencils, card catalogs or even databases, it’s blogs, wikis and del.icio.us. There are millions of blogs and online resources. The library cannot track and keep up with everything. Create teams and pilot Web 2.0 projects. Some key ideas include:

  1. Web 2.0 lunch discussions
  2. Learning partners or mentors
  3. Fifteen minute demos for staff and patrons
  4. Fifteen minutes of personal learning
  5. Online marketing projects
  6. Workshops on emerging technology updates
  7. Personal development time for online exploration
  8. Promote staff use of WebJunction.org
  9. Show and tell technology topics
  10. Attend state and national conferences (Internet Librarian and Computers in Libraries are great)
  11. Host blogs; read and comment on blogs
  12. Subscribe to journals that address Web 2.0 technologies
  13. Participate in Webinars and Web casts
  14. Attend local workshops
  15. Create an emerging tech committee, wiki and/or blog

Instant messaging is important, and Meebo in particular seems to be a library favorite, as it is easy to use and to add to an existing library Web site (see www.lib.berkeley.edu/math). Meebo adds value to a static Web site without requiring big changes. Instant messaging with Meebo “pushes” your reference service where it’s needed the most — side by side with other instantaneous services. But the true value point is the human being — moderating and interacting with the community.