Public libraries, online collaboration, and 23 things


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Presentation to the IDEA's Local by Social conference, 3 to 9 November 2010.

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Public libraries, online collaboration, and 23 things

  1. 1. Public libraries, online collaboration, and 23 Things Internet splat map courtesy of jurvetson
  2. 2. Why do staff in public libraries need to know about new technologies? Because they’re an increasingly huge part of the way we communicate. Wheel of Friendship courtesy of jurvetson
  3. 3. Customer expectations - the 24/7 library -An Amazon-like catalogue -The ability to share the reading experience - “Can you help me with my digital camera / mp3 player / set up a Facebook account, please?” Communities in Control and the Big Society. For ways that Web 2.0 can help with this, have a look at Us Now. Budgets (or lack of them) make collaboration more and more important Other drivers See the Race Online website… Public libraries are playing a big role in helping the 9 million digitally disenfranchised
  4. 4. So we need to give library staff somewhere to learn. The 23 Things programme introduces them to social networking (such as Facebook and Flickr) and more esoteric stuff, like RSS feeds and cloud computing. It’s intended to give frontline staff enough confidence to be able to help library users, and to inspire them to learn more. It’s also intended to give them a heads-up as to what might be coming their way next. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s interactive, and they can do it at their own speed. During the course, sometimes they’ll set up their own accounts (for a blog, for Facebook) and sometimes they’ll watch videos about stuff (such as Google maps). Image courtesy of Publisyst
  5. 5. Here’s Helene Blowers’ original version, 2006. She wrote it for her own staff at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. You’ll note the strong mix of materials – podcasts, videos, and lots of activities.
  6. 6. Portsmouth and Surrey library authorities got together under the umbrella of the Society of Chief Librarians and decided to create our own version… Helene’s was good, but it was out of date, our areas of focus were a little different, and we wanted to use a wiki.
  7. 7. This map shows you who evaluated the course for us, when we asked for help on the Libraries and Web 2.0 mailing list. 11 public library authorities, 15 FE and HE bodies, and 2 health authorities.
  8. 8. Current partners • Aberdeen City Libraries • Portsmouth City Libraries • Suffolk Libraries • Surrey Libraries And West Berkshire and North Lincolnshire library services will be joining us in rolling it out to their frontline staff.
  9. 9. How can four library authorities, five hundred miles apart, work together? We live in digital times. We use Doodle to organise meetings, Webex for the meetings themselves, email for creating documentation and the wiki for sharing it. The wiki (created on Wetpaint) has been fabulous. It means that five of us have been able to work on creating the same module at the same time. We can control who has editing rights, and who can contribute to discussions. The only drawback is the adverts which pay for it, over which we have no control… but Wetpaint seem to be getting more sensitive to this.
  10. 10. The problematic bit It’s worth mentioning that a lot of the stuff in the course is blocked by our authorities. So we have to tell our staff to use the public access terminals in our libraries to learn about it. We’re all local government employees, and we’re very conscious of the possible problems of going outside our respective networks to work together. But we’re also librarians. We understand about intellectual property and data protection and Government Connect and the need to secure and back up our data, and we’re very careful about using the wiki. Photo courtesy of ubberdave
  11. 11. Collaborative working tools Collaboratively creating and editing documents: Webinars: Webex Communicating: The wiki Emails If I was starting over, I’d be tempted to use Facebook… Organising meetings:
  12. 12. Web 2.0: what are public libraries doing? Have a look at and look at Web 2 Examples. We did an audit late in 2009 so it’s still a reasonably up to date picture of who’s doing what. It’s what you would expect – blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc. There are some shining examples there – have a look at Manchester library’s Facebook account.
  13. 13. Where next? • A national catalogue • Benchmarking the quality of our services • Guidelines for staff • ‘Virtual libraries’ of hyperlinks and URLs • “How to” guides for customers • Further staff training – enquiry and customer service skills • Infiltrating book and reading forums • Q&A forums • Countering bad press Here’s some areas where public libraries, within a wider network, are already collaborating in creating and delivering online services. Web 2.0 can only make this easier.
  14. 14. Here’s a couple of questions for Local by Social attendees. • Our project uses a public wiki. Our inner workings can be seen by anybody, and we are at the mercy of Wetpaint if they ever decide to close down or do something unpleasant to our content. Is it legitimate for library authorities to work outside local authority IT networks? Does the end justify the means? How should we mitigate the risks? • Modern library online catalogues incorporate social networking functionality, where people can make friends with other library members and talk about books. Is it better to offer quality services at low risk within our own virtual offer and expect users to come to us, or to offer lower-quality, higher-risk services in the virtual places where people gather, such as Facebook??
  15. 15. Thank you! Helen Leech Virtual Content Manager Surrey Library Service