More MeeboMe Ideas

Wow – there have been lots of comments on the MeeboMe widget. Great! Some other libraries are trying it out – check the comments on my original post and on Jenny Levine’s post titled Mashing on the Library, Part I to find them. Others have been emailing me, asking for details.

Now, let’s take this one further – where else can you embed this thing? For example, Edward had a great idea (left it in my comments). He said “Very cool. I think I might go ahead and add this to our log-in failed page for EzProxy.” Great idea, Edward!

And that made me think… I’ll bet there are other good places to embed something like this. For example, my library’s looking into other places to drop it in the catalog, like on the search results page (idea swiped from Paul Pival).

Think about it like this – where do your patrons get hung up? What stops them… confuses them… makes them click away? Maybe that’s a good place to embed a MeeboMe widget (or something similar). Don’t think “well, I put a link to a Help file there, so that’s good enough.” Come on – do YOU click that Help link? That’s like removing the Information Desk and replacing it with a bin of tipsheets on using the Dewey Decimal System!

Finally, a couple of commenters have mentioned being wary of embedding an IM widget in the catalog because it’s not a 24/7 service. My thoughts:

  • Well… it CAN be a 24/7 service, if you’re willing to not sleep :-)
  • I think the focus is off – you’re concerned with what is most likely a very small minority of patrons searching the catalog at 2am. Instead, focus on helping the majority of your patrons… and add text stating your IM hours.
  • Most 24/7 virtual chat reference services (the only thing I can think of providing 24/7 live help) have people in other libraries answering those 2 am questions… do you really want someone at another library answering a question about YOUR library catalog? Maybe yes, maybe no…

Are you planning to embed a meeboMe widget in your catalog? Leave a comment!

IL2007, Day 3: Building Web 2.0 Native Library Services

Casey Bisson (met him for the first time – nice guy!)

“Libraries are much larger than our books and our OPACs”

Catalog challenges:

  • usability
  • findability
  • remindability

We use Linux daily – it’s the dominant platform of most social web apps

IBM saves over $900,000,000 annually because of LInux

Scriblio.net (used to be his WPOPAC) – very cool. He’s making this easily available to other libraries!

“sites that allow comments value their users”

“Your website is not a marketing tool – it’s a service point.”

Then Casey did a successful live install of Scriblio! Very cool. It’s basically WordPress with some customized widgets and plug-ins (and your catalog records) – took him 11 1/2 minutes, it seemed easy to do.

It’s going to work with Horizon soon. Book jackets come from Amazon.

Thoughts on Everything is Miscellaneous, Part 1

hard rock cafeI just finished reading David Weinberger’s book, Everything is Miscellaneous (thanks, Brad!). It’s a great read – one that I highly recommend to everyone who reads my blog. You might not agree with everything in the book, but I guarantee the book will make you think.

First things first – Weinberger MUST know some librarians! Throughout the book, he mentions librarians… even some specific ones (ok, he even mentions Gorman and Blog People!). Weinberger also mentions card catalogs, FRBR, faceted searching (in relation to Endeca), DDC, and LCSH. He even quotes Ranganathan! So it’s definitely a “librarian-friendly” book.

Now, on to my main beef with the book. The title of the book, obviously, is Everything is Miscellaneous. And in most of the book, Weinberger tends to discuss first how something is either currently categorized or organized, and then how that organization or categorization has changed with web 2.0 tools and tagging specifically. How has it changed? According to Weinberger, allowing individuals to sort and tag information however they want equates to the world of information turning miscellaneous.

Interestingly enough, I agree with everything Weinberger says… but the term “miscellaneous” bugs me.

Instead of using “miscellaneous,” I’d use “personal.” In fact, I’d change the title of the book to Everything is Personal or Everything is Personally Relevant. Most of the information Weinberger describes as being miscellaneous isn’t actually haphazardly mish-mashed together (definition of Miscellaneous found using Google). Instead, the information, or the metadata at least, has been customized – or personalized – for “me.” Tags, searches, descriptions, customizations – all help to make the information personally relevant to me.

So… it might just be a semantics thing – I dunno. But I don’t see Weinberger’s miscellaneous pile of leaves (read the book – you’ll understand) as miscellaneous. Instead, I see it as opportunity. As something waiting to be discovered by me, tagged and described adequately enough that I can revisit it – which pulls it out of the miscellaneous pile and into my personally relevant, “I place you here” organizational needs.

And if my personal, sorted-through pile helps others (ie., tagging items in flickr), then great!

Update: Part 2 is here

OZSDUG Meeting and Demo of Rome

The Gordian Knot blog recently mentioned the OZSDUG (OZarks SirsiDynix Users Group) meeting that took place on June 5th… I attended the meeting – here are my notes:

First up, a SirsiDynix Sales Rep answered a list of pre-prepared questions:

  • Question – Can we trust SirsiDynix promises? Answer – “No.”
  • The company that bought Sirsi told them to drop one product, so they could focus on making just one thing (makes sense)
  • There has been no end of life announced for Horizon
  • They will support Horizon 7 for the next 4-6 years (see the first point, above… :-)
  • Claimed Unicorn is a modern ILS
  • Unicorn/Rome has a very open API – is this true?
  • Unicorn/Rome is closer to Horizon 8 in terms of functionality
  • Rome is simply the next release of Unicorn (ie., 3.2) plus whatever they can swipe from Horizon 8
  • Rome releases 1, 2, and 3 – some functionality will be in 3 rather than in 1 or 2
  • Rome will be beta testing this summer
  • They will release a new version once a year
  • Lots of Horizon functionality won’t be in Rome 1
  • SAAS – they don’t host it – it’s outsourced to a server farm in Atlanta (makes sense) – Sirsi handles the software upgrades
  • San Diego Public and Kansas City Public are currently using SAAS
  • Rome is simply a marketing term – they’re working on renaming it

Then another sales rep did a demo of Unicorn EPS:

  • It’s ugly (my opinion!)
  • It does (finally) have built in RSS feeds on searches (yippie!)
  • Includes federated search as part of the base package, which also works with the RSS feeds (yippie!)
  • Don’t have to subscribe to Rooms to get RSS and the federated search portion – both are part of the base package
  • Sirsi updates Rooms – not the customer! That seems odd
  • Claimed that Sirsi spent lots of time designing the default Rooms look – then the speaker spent a lot of time pointing out the three-column design and explained the eye-tracking F thing…
  • However (my opinion) the base package is extremely ugly. It looks like it was made in 1999 rather than in 2007. Sirsi could certainly spend some time and money doing little itty bitty visual tweaks to make the customer web-based piece look at least normal, if not truly modern – just hire or contract with a designer!
  • One thing that really amazed me – on the default product in the list of results, do they highlight the title of the book and put the title at the top of the record? No… instead, they put the call number up at the top, in bold and in a larger font. That doesn’t seem customer-friendly to me.
  • This guy for some reason came off as being insincere – after the Sirsi people left, a question was asked “did anyone like [sales dude]?” Almost everyone said “no!” pretty loudly (which surprised me)! I think that was because of his presentation style (he was trying to be funny, but it came out being more edgy/sarcastic) – again, my take!

Finally, the Sales Director, East spoke about future directions and answered a few questions:

  • I asked a question – with the SAAS service, do you have to look like you’re hosted at Sirsi (most hosted sites I’ve seen have a sirsi.net/libraryname URL)? They didn’t know, but called in the question (which was cool – thanks!), and yes – you can use whatever domain name/URL you want to…
  • They’re working on a web staff client – there will be a limited release later this year
  • He admitted to swiping slides from Abrams… :-)
  • Working on a faceted and visual search – I think they showed screenshots of a mock-up. It looks to be much the same as Aquabrowser, Endeca, or that new Worldcat thing that’s out
  • text messaging holds and overdues – this functionality was in Horizon 8. It is “in queue” for Rome (didn’t say which version)
  • Someone made the comment that what we see when Stephen Abram speaks or when we listen to the SirsiDynix Institute seminars and what we see when we actually see a SirsiDynix product or talk to a sales rep seem to be two very different things. To that, the Sales Director said (my summary here): we walk a fine line with Abrams and with the SirsiDynix Institute – we don’t want it to appear like we actually do all the stuff that Abrams says (apparently because he speaks at lots of non-Sirsi things??? – just what the rep said…), or what the Institute teaches. I didn’t like the separation he put between what appears to libraryland as the
    voice of the company and the actual product – if the voice and the
    product say two different things, well… that’s not good!
  • And to be fair, he DID say that Abrams has a list of stuff that HAS to be in Rome for it to be successful (so that’s something, at least). But he did NOT say that SirsiDynix was working to include that list in Rome. And

So – to sum up… we heard:

  • don’t trust Sirsi
  • they made us drop horizon
  • we promise to continue to support horizon (see #1)
  • Showed us what they consider to be a modern ILS (Rome/Unicorn)… the audience didn’t agree (gleaned from the discussion after the Sirsi reps left)
  • When Abrams says something cool, or when you hear something neat about an ILS system at the SirsiDynix Institute, don’t expect it to appear in an actual Sirsi product.