Free Range Librarian is bugged by bloggers

Karen Schneider had some interesting things to say about bloggers being, well… bloggers at Internet Librarian 2004. Mainly concerning the observation that they might not be listening as well as they should be, and that their blogging might not be terribly courteous.

Here’s my take on it (speaking as a presenter who had bloggers in attendance):

1. Not so much with personal blogging, but for the more focused bloggers, I see them as the new grassroots press. they provide instant feedback to conferences, seminars, and even the general “feel” of the conference. You can know what’s going on even without being there, which is cool. And like bloggers during this last presidential election, they can sometimes upstage the “traditional” press (in this case, the IL report that’ll most likely run in Information Today in the upcoming weeks).

Plus, there’s the whole excitement aspect. Bloggers aren’t blogging the stuff that bores them – they’re writing about what excites them, or as Michael Stephens says “that rocks!” You can lose something in the translation if you don’t “write it down” while the excitement is still there.

2. Dissemination (sp?): I think it’s way cool to get instant thoughts from a topic, rather than waiting a week or two or three… or never. I’d really rather have people share than not. There will be many attendees who do go back and share what they learned, but in internal staff meetings. It’s great to also see and read attendees thoughts in the open web.

3. Attendees already take notes. Why not take them on a laptop? And if they happen to blog, why not post those notes? If they’re taking notes anyway, posting those notes just takes a click – it’s no more disruptive than people quietly typing or scribbling on a legal pad (or in my case, on a PDA). Shoot – my blog started as a place I could post info so I wouldn’t forget it – sort of a customized, summarized bookmarks page of my own (that I could access at work or home).

4. The Younger Generation – They’re here, and they plan to stay. Thankfully! They IM, they SMS, they chat on cell phones, they blog. These are things they just do – it’s all part of their social structure, sort of like nudging your friend at a seminar or raising your eyebrows during an eye-opening point. The younger folks nudges just happen to be done electronically.

Stephen Abrams wrote a great article in the Nov/dec issue of Multimedia & Internet Schools about how schools tend to teach up-and-coming workers yesterday’s technology. Some examples were: not typing when he was a kid (you’ll have a secretary to do your typing); Too much emphasis on typing for his kids (they’re going to be inputting info in many ways, not just on a large keyboard); etc. These “kids” are growing up and becoming librarians, and they have brought their cell phones, their Treos, their IMs and their SMS gadgets with them and EXPECT to use them! Why should it be any different at a library conference?

I look at bloggers in my talks as instant feedback – they more they type, blog, and even photograph me (thanks, Steven), the more I know I’m doing a good job of presenting.

Please keep it up!

Virtual Tours as an online resource

The Virtual Tours at Las Vegas/Clark County Library District’s website are pretty cool – they are tours of what the library considers to be “useful resources.” They’re things like the Family History Center and a Legal Services self-help center. That a great idea!

But – we could take that idea further. In Kansas City, for example – we could create virtual tours of our well-known cultural icons, like our fountains, our barbeque restaurants, even our sports organizations (ie., virtual tour of Chiefs stadium). Or outdoor areas like the Plaza (a well-known outdoor shopping center).

This would help our remote customers see places they wouldn’t usualyy see, and could possibly even supply visual driving directions.

Just a thought!

CNN doesn’t understand Google

CNN.com article – Brain teasers help Google recruit workers – Nov 4, 2004

Gee… here’s their lead-in to the article:

“Google Inc. locates almost anything on the Web within seconds, but finding the brainy engineers who program the company’s lightning-quick search engine takes more time — and a quirky bit of ingenuity.”

Anything on the web???? Sheesh. Why is it so hard to understand, especially in a techie news story (with probably reporters following techie trends)?

Alrightie – Here are some basic Google lessons for CNN:

1. Google doesn’t REALLY search the web – they search their own database of web history that they’ve gone out and fetched
2. Google is big, but still covers maybe 1/3 of the web

Class dismissed.

Website Statistics – Top Search Keyword and Phrases

For the last part of this series, I’ll focus on Search Engine Words and
Phrases. Yes, many different search engines direct customers to our
website – and our web stats software keeps track of which search engines
hit us, and more importantly, what words and phrases are used to find
our pages.

Here’s what happened in October (looking at phrases):

Obviously, different forms of “Kansas City Public Library” appear (as
kansas city public library, kansas city library, kc public library, kc
library, etc.).

Also, we get a lot of content-driven types of phrases, like:

3 map of missouri
7 maps of missouri
8 kansas city map
9 missouri maps
13 pumpkin painting
14 Harry potter info
15 public library
16 sheffield steel
17 map of missouri counties
21 russell stover
22 kchasjobs
23 scary face painting
26 harry truman
27 kchasjobs.com
28 library
33 kansas city photos
34 Kansas City, MO
35 kansas city maps
36 Downtown Arena Design Team
37 Walter Disney
38 Jim Bridger
40 www.kchasjobs.com
41 how to make a purse
42 Sheffield steel industry
43 Kansas City Missouri
44 kansas city
46 railroad maps
47 kansas city mo
48 Flu Shots Kansas City
50 oregon trail map

This is great stuff! People want maps, craft information, local history
info, jobs, info on downtown, flue shots, and info on our city. And to
find that info, they are being directed to our library website.

So – here’s the part involving work – we probably need to provide
pointers to some of this, at least the things that appear more
frequently. For example, Jim Bridger appears often in this list (for
June 1 through October 31, he’s number 17). We have a local history
collection of photos and documents about him and his family, most of
which is online. But we could also write an article that describes him,
his family, and the information we have about him – in the local history
collection, but also in our books, videos, and articles that can be
found in our library. And in other web links, too.

This would do a number of things:
1. It would help establish our customized content on Mr. Bridger or
other top search phrases as “an authority” that would continue driving
more customers to our site
2. It would help provide information that customers are wanting from us
in a more condensed way (by providing a “this is what we have” type of
page)

And that’s gotta be good for our website and our library, right?