Creating a Personalized “My Library” page with no sweat

netvibesI was introduced to Netvibes at Internet Librarian (via Steven’s Trends in Blogs, RSS, Wikis, and Other Stuff presentation), and I started thinking…. my library has talked on and off for years about creating some type of personalized “my library” page. This page would allow library customers to link to whatever they want, and of course it would also link to library information, like the library catalog. But for one reason or another, we haven’t gotten to that project yet…

Thankfully, we might not ever have to do that – enter Netvibes! Netvibes is, in essense, pretty much what we were thinking about. It searches Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and IceRocket. It lets you add links (and tag them). It lets you access your email (well, Gmail, anyway). It lets you subscribe to feeds (the screenshot above includes some of my library’s RSS feeds, plus my del.icio.us and flickr feeds).

And, if you’re a Dynix user – you can include Library ELF – to access your library account information. OK – I also included Kansas City area weather, for kicks.

There’s a lot of If’s here – only Gmail, only Dynix, etc. – but still. I find this type of service pretty cool. Why?

  1. It has library implications. A library can offer it to customers right out of the box, and it can actually be useful.
  2. This, like much of the web, is in beta. But can you imagine what it or a similar service (My Yahoo, anyone) will be doing in a year or two?
  3. Helping customers organize “their web.” My guess is that many of our customers don’t use much of the web – they frequent a small number of websites, and use Google when they need more information. Why not teach those users to organize their digital life with something like netvibes? And in the process, teach them how to link to, say, your library’s RSS feeds, the library catalog, the databases page, etc.

web20 web2.0 library 2.0 library2.0

Introduction to Social Bookmarking

I posted about a social bookmarking survey a few days ago, and received this comment:

“I have no idea what social bookmarking is!!”

My explanation follows:

First, let’s define bookmarking… really easy. In your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc – I’ll be using Internet Explorer for my example), there’s a Favorites menu. You can surf to your favorite website, click Favorites, then click Add Favorites, and add that website to a list of websites you might want to remember. That is a Bookmark.

The nice thing about the bookmark is that you can refer back to it any time you want to… well, except if you’re not sitting at that computer. Then you’re sunk.

Unless you use a Social Bookmarking service. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of Social Bookmarking (found using that handy google search, define: “social bookmarking”):

Social bookmarking is an activity performed over a computer network that allows users to save and categorize (see folksonomy) a personal collection of bookmarks and share them with others. Users may also take bookmarks saved by others and add them to their own collection, as well as to subscribe to the lists of others. – a personal knowledge management tool en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_bookmarking

Say what? OK – instead of merely bookmarking a website on one computer, you can bookmark that website on the web, using a free, web-based service like del.icio.us, Furl, or blinklist (included since they were mentioned in my original post). Why?

Well, your immediate problem of getting to the bookmarked website from another computer is solved. You just surf on over to your service, log in, and – voila – you have your bookmarks. Amazing!

But wait, there’s more… social bookmarking does much more than that:

  • bookmarks are usually searchable, for one thing – so no browsing required.
  • Other people can search YOUR links (hence the “social” part)
  • You can usually search EVERYONE’S bookmarks – for example, Furl has a search engine that searches all Furl bookmark accounts (the idea being that these links MUST be good, since someone took the time to bookmark them)
  • You can categorize them (aka tagging, folksonomy) – handy for organization
  • Furl allows you to see the date you entered the bookmark, rate the bookmark, and see how many views your bookmarks get (sorta funny – my three top views? Yahoo! Webmessenger, Men’s Business Attire, and chords to a song – go figure)
  • Some services, like del.icio.us, show top bookmarks, new bookmarks, and popular tags – great way to see what’s going on in the digital world
  • Big one – using an RSS feed, you can SUBSCRIBE to someone’s bookmark feed. Why is that cool? Let’s say you find someone’s bookmark list to be extremely useful – if you subscribe to it via RSS, you know when that person has updated their list (it’s a time saver for you)
  • With a little coding know-how, you can place del.icio.us feeds on another website. This is cool for reference librarians – they can maintain a list of links, but also allow patrons to subscribe to that list of links. And it’s not hidden way beneath a library’s website – it’s out there for the world to see (and subscribe to)

That’s what Social Bookmarking is, in a nutshell. Much more useful than Favorites, and way cooler, too.

John Blyberg is Blogging

I met John at Internet Librarian – we were on a panel in the public libraries track. He also gave a presentation later in the week on his library’s site (www.aadl.org).

And… he has a blog – http://www.blyberg.net/

Check it out! Seems a bit heavy on code (warning for non-techies), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve subscribed!