walking paper: some problems with virtual reference

Aaron Schmidt at Walking Paper just posted some great points about Virtual Reference – go read it.

One point the Bailey-Hainer article Aaron mentions should be highlighted: marketing, marketing, marketing! I have seen libraries with dismal usage statistics… but they also claim to have not really marketed the service (even on a bookmark), have part-time hours for the service, etc. If you don’t tell anyone about it, no one will come. Period.

One other point. Aaron states “We need to be connecting to our patrons online.” And I agree completely… but I’m going to remove one word from his statement. It should read: “We need to be connecting to our patrons.” No matter where those patrons are – cell phone, SMS, IM, email, web-based chat, snail mail, live-in-person, at home, at school, at their job (outreach services), etc.

What the heck is RSS?

Aaron over at Walking Paper just posted something that I was thinking about last night. He’s quoting someone else’s post about if customers know what blogs and RSS is/are.

For my part, when I read Jenny’s post about SIRSI, I emailed it to our automation librarian. He hollered over to me “David, what the heck is RSS?” Here’s what I said in explanation – “It’s a way to subscribe to a webpage, so you get the updates pretty much when they are posted.” He got it. But not until I removed the jargon (rss) from the explanation.

I think RSS, blogging, and aggregators are easy enough to understand… but the naming of these things is a huge hinderance. RSS, Aggregator, Really Simple Syndication, XML, etc – all this is jargon. Does it mean anything to the normal joe? I doubt it.

RSS jargon needs to be re-worked to make more sense to our average library customer, at the least – especially since it’s going to be a feature in most of our products within a couple of years (assuming RSS continues to take off).

So what should we call it? Here are some ideas:

myweb, my library, content grabber, InfoFinder… anyone else got some? And of course, public training classes will go a long way, too!

KCResearch – a cool project my library is working on

My library just received some good local press in the Kansas City Star. The article describes (very briefly) a new project my IT department is invlolved in, called KCResearch.

Basically, our two Project Librarians (three year grant-funded positions) are collecting all research done about Kansas City, and storing it in a database we created. We’re also planning on pointing to research that’s already represented online via fretwell-downing informatics CPORTAL software. It’s an exciting project, because community and academic organizations are working together.

And, I’m speaking about the KCResearch project at Computers in Libraries 2005 in March, so I thought I’d supply a reading assignment before the presentation (the article). Should be a good time had by all.


Just saw the SIRSI RSS thing that Jenny Levine posted. Very cool on first glance! I hope it ends up to be what SIRSI is claiming it will be. If so, that’ll be one awesome product.

But for me, there are some questions I’ll need to answer to become completely satisfied with the product. Mainly, because the way I’m reading SIRSI’s PDF, to use the RSS feed part, you have to purchase SIRSI Rooms (a separate product from the Unicorn ILS system my library has).

So the first question is this: will you be able to use the RSS feeds mentioned without purchasing the separate SIRSI Rooms product?

Also, it sounds like the newest version of SIRSI Rooms is really trying to become a Content Management System (CMS), which is cool… unless your library system already has one in place. Then it’s not so cool – who wants to operate two CMS’s? That sorta defeats the purpose of content management, doesn’t it?

So my second question is this: how well wil it integrate with my present website? Can I hook up parts and pieces of the SIRSI product with my website as needed?

Or maybe I’m off my rocker, and still trying to do it the hard way (build it yourself, rather than piggybacking off someone else’s hard work)? Not sure.

Of course, first things first. I want to see some more info, and I want a DEMO!