Monday, February 18, 2008

Thing 3: RSS

RSS was not completely foreign to me. I've been on LiveJournal for several years and have been getting the Unshelved feed there since 2006. I've noticed that the feed comes through before the email version.

For this exercise I set up accounts with both Bloglines and Google Reader and added feeds to both. The directions were easier to follow at Google Reader, but the "Sub with Bloglines" button that I could add to my Favorites makes it easier to add feeds there. There may have been something similar at Google Reader, but if so, I was unable to find it, and I had to copy and paste URLs. One feed (Pop Goes the Library) refused to add at GR but posed no problem at all at Bloglines. The "Manage Subscriptions" and "Settings" buttons at GR refused to work numerous times and I had to log out of the account and back in to change things. That got annoying very quickly. I like that GR will display feeds if you click on them again after marking them as read; there's at least one more step required at Bloglines. And Bloglines seems slower. "Help" is clunky at best on both sites. Logging in is easier at GR because you don't have to type in an entire email address. That in itself makes using GR more attractive to me.

I wasn't overly impressed with either Google Reader's or Bloglines' tools for finding feeds, but I just did random searches for subjects. Libdex was better, but many of the blogs listed aren't current.

How is this useful to me? For now, I'll use a reader to follow 23 Things on a Stick blogs. I'm enjoying reading them, and it's an easy way to keep up-to-date. The downside is that you miss looking at the actual blog pages themselves, and seeing the creativity there is part of the fun. I added some other library-related feeds, e.g. the YALSA and ALSC blogs, as well as some news and fun feeds. I'll probably end up deleting the latter two, because I just don't care enough about them.

I suppose feedreaders could be useful to our patrons, channeling information on certain subject areas to them. (Didn't we call this SDI way back when I was in library school?) This is certainly something we could tell them about. And I see that some libraries are producing feeds for their patrons (thanks, Linda!)

I don't think a feedreader is for me. Where news and entertainment are concerned, there are a few sites I like, and I choose to go to them on my terms. Feedreaders seem most useful for keeping up with blogs, and I'm just not that into blogs.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Thing 2: Thoughts on Library 2.0

I’m old enough to have experienced numerous business plans, curricula, and mission statements, some of them diametrically opposed to their predecessor. It’s made me both cynical and moderate. Nothing is one-size-fits-all. The challenge is matching a variety of tools with a varied customer base, along with the balancing act of funding and staff education.

I’ve viewed the videos and read the articles, references and responses at least twice, and some things I agree with and others… not so much. Of course we want to connect with people and have them see us as useful and relevant (and therefore valuable and worth funding). There are some neat tools that will allow us to connect with people in their space, but we can’t abandon our 1.0 users for whom the physical library will always be that space.

I’m in the camp that thinks libraries and librarians have always been 2.0, and we must be able to communicate with our users in ways that will be meaningful to them. Blogs, IM, and social networking sites are flashier new tools that will strike responsive chords with some patrons - or attract new ones – but others may just be looking for someone who understands Spanish or ASL.

One of the things I'm leery about is user-created content. I’m a control freak (a cataloger!) and not a big fan of “radical trust.” In an ideal world all user-created content would contribute to the general pool of knowledge. But I’ve seen too many worthless “reviews” at Amazon and IMDb, vandalized entries and editing wars at Wikipedia, and vituperative anonymous comments at my local newspaper’s website to have much faith in that. Yes, there’s some great non-authoritative content out there, and I agree with John Blyberg that we need to distinguish between authoritative and non-authoritative stuff to our patrons. But you may have to sift through a lot of dross to find the gold.

This may sound as if I'm negative about Library 2.0; actually I'm not. I look forward to learning new things and expanding my comfort zone.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thing 1 (apologies to Dr. Seuss)

Old dog, new tricks.
Twenty-three things on a stick.
New trick, old dog.
Thing One: start a blog.

Okay, that's enough doggerel; time to get to the point of this post. Every fiber of my being rebels against blogging. I'm a very private person, and the thought of publishing my thoughts online for the whole world to see appalls me. I know, I know, there are many times more blogs than there are readers of said blogs, but still...

Setting up the blog was fairly easy, and I've already played around with changing the template. The avatar was more trouble, mostly because the choices at Yahoo! weren't entirely satisfactory.