What Collaborative Tools do You Use?

As part of my presentation today, I also tweeted this: “for the class I’m teaching in Miami – can you say hi, and share what tech tools you use to collaborate with? That’d be awesome – thx!”

And I received 17 replies, all with some great suggestions of collaborative tools. Here’s the list some of you helped create:

mediawiki
drupal
zoho project
diigo
twitter
search alerts
google docs
Skype
friendfeed
Google Chat
Facebook
blogs
email
google groups
sharepoint
phone
google wave
libguides
a staff intranet
IM
moodle
xtranormal!
a geocaching app
second life
world of warcraft
citrix
box.net
google calendar
jott

Interesting list!

Collaborative Technology in Libraries Presentation

I lead a seminar on collaborative technology in libraries for SEFLIN today – it was a good time, with a TON of information going by pretty fast! Here’s a copy of my slides:

And here’s a list of the websites we looked at:

Social networks
twitter.com
search.twitter.com
twitpic.com
facebook.com

Private Social Networks
groups.google.com
groups.yahoo.com
friendfeed.com
yammer.com
socialcast.com
present.ly

Conversation tools
blogs – this one is an example
coveritlive.com
basecamphq.com
meebo.com
gmail.com – chat feature
tinychat.com

Mashups
pipes.yahoo.com
widgetbox.com

Multimedia
12seconds.tv
skype.com
oovoo.com
ustream.tv
stickam.com
youtube.com
flickr.com

Meetings
voice.google.com
calendar.google.com
doodle.com
elluminate.com
Adobe Connect
dimdim.com
zoho
freebinar.com
slideshare.net
present.io

Sharing stuff on your PC
gotomeeting.com
glance.com
yugma.com
showdocument.com
twiddla.com
clavardon.com
cosketch.com
scribblar.com
dabbleboard.com

Documents
docs.google.com
scribd.com
zoho
pbworks.com
wetpaint central
mediawiki.org
wikispaces.com
yousendit.com
box.net
drop.io
dropbox.com

Volunteers vs Job Duties

Some people have told me they ask for volunteers to do blog posts or write content for their website. You know what happens there, right? Asking for volunteers works great … until the volunteer “gets busy” with their “real job.”

When people volunteer, they tend to think of the thing they volunteered to do as “extra work.” If it gets in the way of their real job, they’ll stop doing the volunteer work.

It’s not necessarily that they don’t want to do the web work. It’s simply this – the library hasn’t prioritized the web work (also insert Twitter/Facebook/YouTube/etc here).

No one asks for volunteers to work the reference desk, right? How about driving the bookmobile – does it only operate when a volunteer can get around to it?

I don’t think so. It should be the same with web work. Want it to happen? Don’t ask for volunteers. Assign job duties, then expect it to happen, just like working the desk or driving the bookmobile.

pic by LShave

How We Post in Topeka

I was recently asked how my library posts so frequently on our blogs. It’s a morphing process – here’s where we are now, and where we’re [probably] going.

Right now, here’s what we’re doing. Our digital branch is a huge priority for our library. We’re one big building and 17 bookmobile stops, and we have to reach a whole county. So we have prioritized reaching out digitally. In fact, our executive director often says “no one can opt out of the digital branch.” It’s that important to us.

How does everyone participate? Some blog, some take pictures or create/post videos. Some of us watch/add content to our outposts like Facebook or Twitter. Others answer texts/IMs/email reference questions.

For blog posting – right now, our guideline is two posts a week per blog/section of the site. Do we always make this? Nope – some areas do, some not so much. It’s a work in progress.

It also factors into our annual job performance reviews (more on this in a bit).

How will this be changing? Right now, we’re in the midst of a pretty major website redesign. We learned lots from our current design and the current way we operate on the back end, and are ready to put some improvements in place.

One improvement will be how we handle web content – here’s our thinking right now. We’ll probably align our blogs more closely with our physical library’s neighborhoods – we’re taking stuff out of Dewey Decimal order and putting them into content areas (i.e., all health-related books go in the Health neighborhood, etc).

Each of those neighborhoods has a team and a team leader … and each has a blog, too. So the blog is that team’s responsibility. We’ll figure out a posting schedule for them, and jointly create some goals/strategy for growing their little section of the digital branch (that’s a part of my job).

We’ll also probably figure out a way to more formally reward those teams for the digital branch work they do. Right now, it’s easy to say “no one can opt out” and “it’s part of our job performance” – but there’s no good, formal way to make that happen.

We’ll need to figure out a better way to say stuff like “yes, Joe wrote  24 posts this year, answered 200 text reference questions, and livestreamed an author event.” And have that somehow count for better scores on an annual review (alright – still need to talk to HR and other managers about this – it’s been mentioned that we need to improve in this area, just not exactly how yet).

The goal isn’t to punish people who don’t do the work (cause most of us already do it) – instead, the goal is to better recognize this great work.

And last – remember, I work in a pretty healthy organization. If our library decides to do something … we do it. If someone’s assigned to do something, that thing happens. Isn’t that how all libraries are [David quickly ducks]?

pic by pallotron

Posting and Traffic

Chris Brogan posts this simple observation – “the more you post, the more traffic you get.” Then he qualifies that a bit (ie., reasonably good content). Simple, yet powerful point.

Now – what about your organization? Think about your blog, or your Twitter feed, or your Facebook Page. Getting traffic there? If not … are you posting regularly?

My library’s website is a blog-based site, and we post quite a bit. Individually, it’s not regular, but it ends up looking like we post a lot (cause lots of us post). And over the year, our traffic HAS gone up.

But we can improve our process (which will probably look a bit like strategic planning, goal-setting, and putting our blog posts on more of a regular schedule). More on that next year.

How can you improve your organization’s blog post/content/social media process? Cause I bet, if you sit down and think about it for 10 minutes or so, that you CAN.

pic by Chris Brogan