No One Starts at Your Website

Guess what? Your patrons aren’t starting their information searches at your library’s website. In fact, OCLC checked that out. In their Perceptions of Libraries, 2010: Context and Community report, they found that … NO ONE … started their info search at a library website. Yep – that’s a big, fat 0%.

And you know what? That’s ok.

Here are a couple of thoughts about that:

1. Your site isn’t built for that, and probably will never be. Sure, you have a link to your catalog. And links to a variety of databases. But those aren’t your website. On your actual website, you have a lot of information up about your library, like your policies and info on your board of trustees. But that’s not really what the majority of your patrons are interested in.

You do have some information that your patrons want, like hours, locations, etc – those are used a lot on my library’s website. But that’s not really the start of someone searching for information, is it?

2. There are other tools already set up that do that whole “let’s start an info search” much better than us. Think Google, Bing, or even Wikipedia. They are made to find little nuggets of info. In years past, actual librarians did that great – and there weren’t many other options. But now, the web owns that ready reference type stuff.

So what are our websites for?

Well – that should depend on your library’s strategic plan. But generally speaking, our websites serve a variety of purposes, including:

  • point to info sources. Catalog, databases, useful local organizations
  • we’re set up to answer questions (that’s not necessarily connected to beginning that info search)
  • some of us enhance learning, entertainment, and local community stuff via blog posts or posts/reminders about events at the library
  • all that normal stuff about the library – hours, locations, board members, policies.

But start info searches? That doesn’t really make sense in today’s web environment anymore (not to me, anyway).

Instead, point your patrons to the best places to go to start their searches – then, when they get confused … make sure they know that you are there, ready to expand, reshape, and redefine those searches so they’re actually useful.

That’s our job.

pic by jakeandlindsay

Presentations at Computers in Libraries 2011

I gave a couple of presentations at last week’s Computers in Libraries conference (ok – 5, to be exact). I just uploaded them to Slideshare – here they are:

Enjoy!

Livestreaming is Easy

I was just at Computers in Libraries 2011, a great conference that happens every spring in Washington, D.C.

Besides giving and attending some cool presentations (and hanging out with some awesome people), I was able to help out by livestreaming parts of the event.

Here’s what I livestreamed:

Guess what? Livestreaming is really easy these days! Here’s how I did it:

  • I used ustream.tv – it’s a really nice livestreaming service that’s free to use.
  • I used their Ustream Producer app to do the livestream. It provides a slightly easier way to adjust the controls and options for the stream, rather than using the web-based version.
  • I used a camera from work – a Canon GL2, and plugged it into my Mac with a Firewire cable. For cameras, you have many options – here’s more info from ustream on compatible cameras
  • For audio, I ran a feed from the hotel’s sound board to a small preamp (shown in the picture). This gave me a lot of control over the audio signal. I could have simplified, and used the video camera’s audio – but the separate feed gave the livestream some great sound.

And that’s basically it! Once everything is set up, there’s basically two things to do – click the Broadcast button to go live, and click the Record button to record.

Problems? Yeah – I had a couple:

  • I wasn’t paying attention on Monday, and didn’t get that Record button pushed right at the beginning of the talk.
  • I compensated for that the next two days by hitting record way before the talk started, and caught some “on stage only” banter. Nothing embarrassing, but still…
  • Looks like someone bumped the camera in part 1 of James Cameron’s talk – he’s slightly off-screen at the beginning. I didn’t notice that, because I was running around like crazy, trying to deal with the next problem …
  • … Audio – someone had accidentally unplugged a cable (probably inadvertently, with their foot). In the video, you can actually see the audio guy (who was great!) plug it back in, and then hear the audio turn on.
  • The hotel’s internet connection (not sure the Washington Hilton was ready for 1600 geeks with gadgets).

So there you go. Livestreaming is easy (even though it can be tricky at times). Do any of you use livestreaming in your libraries or organizations? I’d love to hear from you!

Oops, What Did I Just Do – and What to Do Next

This afternoon, I checked in to a place on Foursquare that I’d never actually go visit in person. Nothing against interesting establishments … but the problem was, I wasn’t there – I was on a plane.

I had just landed at the Kansas City International Airport. The place I didn’t visit and the airport that I did visit share similar names on Foursquare (Kansas City International Airport, and Kansas City International Airport Glory Hole), and the full name of the second place doesn’t display on the iPhone Foursquare app (see the screenshot in this post). Not paying much attention, I checked into the wrong place (and quickly received multiple Twitter replies and DMs, kindly suggesting that I perhaps checked into the wrong place).

Anyone ever done that before? Signed up for an app on Facebook, only to spam your friends list? Suddenly found your Twitter account asking everyone to “click here” when all you did was try out a new service? Or, like me, click something, and then realize that’s not what you wanted to do … but too late to take it back? This has the potential to be pretty embarrassing (thinking about the time I clicked a link in an email from someone that I had been waiting for an email from, only to watch in horror as my email account started spamming everyone in my contact list … including all library staff email accounts).

Yep. Been there, done that. And it’s bound to happen to some of us with our organizational accounts, too. Many of you no doubt have found tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite extremely useful – you can log into multiple accounts, both personal and organizational, at the same time. It ends up saving a ton of time … until you accidentally forget to turn something off. Then, much embarrassment and backpedaling ensues.

When this inevitably happens… what should you do?

  • First – don’t panic. It was a mistake, and we all make them.
  • Second – simply publicly admit the mistake. Say something like “oops – wrong account.” Or “How did that happen? Sorry about that” or something similar.
  • Third – delete the mistake if you can (I couldn’t until hours later, and I decided to let the accidental check-in stand. I find it mildly humorous)
  • If you sent out something potentially malicious (like one of those rogue spammy Facebook apps), you should send out a message warning your followers/friends to not click the link, it’s spam, and add a quick “sorry about that.” They’ll understand – most likely, they have done it themselves, too.

And…

How can you avoid having this happen to you?

  • Look before you tweet – make sure you are sending what you think you are sending … before you send it!
  • Check for spelling oddities (auto-correct on the iPhone can do strange and amusing things to seemingly innocuous words).
  • If it’s an interesting-sounding app or tool, you might do a quick search in Google or Twitter first, to see what others thought about the app. This can quickly help weed out spammy apps.
  • Think about keeping your work accounts and your personal accounts separate. Meaning don’t put both on the same Tweetdeck install. Maybe use Hootsuite for work and Tweetdeck for personal, for example.

What else should I add here?

Vote for Me for a LITA Director-at-Large!

For my ALA/Librarian friends – I’m running for a LITA Director-at-Large, and I would love your vote!

Voting starts at 9:00 a.m. Central Time on March 16, 2011. Ballots close at 11:59 p.m. on April 22. Election results will be announced on April 29, 2011.

And here’s my statement on why I’m running: I love LITA, and I think LITA should be leading the pack in tackling technology change in libraries, and in running a modern organization using modern technology. I’m not convinced LITA is there yet, and I want to help make positive changes in LITA to help the organization grow and evolve … and more importantly, to help libraries and librarians with their technology needs.

So again – please consider voting for me! I’d appreciate it!