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

Social Mentions with socialmention

check out socialmention.com

One social media tracking tool I’ve been using for the library lately is SocialMention, at socialmention.com.

From their about page – “Social Mention … allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time. Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc.”

So how do I use it? In the search box, I did a search for topeka library – that search catches most of the variations of my library’s name (Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library). Most people tend to tweet or Facebook phrases like “headed to Topeka to visit the library” or “Topeka has a great library.” Or they might mention “Topeka Public Library.”

I don’t narrow the search, though you can. If you want, you can create separate searches for blogs, microblogs, networks, bookmarks, comments, etc. And this becomes more important in the next paragraph…

… because each search has an RSS feed and/or an email alert that goes along with it. So what I do is this – I do that topeka library search, then subscribe to the email alerts.

What’s this get me? Every morning, I get an email from Social Mention with a list of mentions of the library with links to the original. I usually get tweets and Facebook status updates, some Foursquare checkins, and some blog mentions. Honestly, there’s a lot of blog spam mentions that appear as well. Also any time we’re mentioned in the media, that comes through, too.

Then I click through each link, answer any questions that appear (not too many), sometimes add a comment to a discussion, and send any interesting media mentions to our marketing manager and maybe our deputy director. I also copy/paste the more interesting mentions into a semi regular staff intranet blog post, so staff can see who’s saying what about us.

So… why am I doing this? I’m a digital branch manager – it helps me keep track of what people are saying about the library via their favorite digital spaces. It also lets me quickly see just what digital spaces people are using (Topekans definitely favor Twitter and Facebook right now).

I recommend checking out socialmention.com – there’s probably a whole lot more you can do with it!

Facebook vs Google?

Just saw this post and a couple others that commented on it – Facebook Passes Google in “Time Spent” – What Does it Mean?

What does it mean? Honestly, it could mean any number of things. But let’s take a peek at the accompanying graphic first:

Here’s what I think it might mean:

  1. Well, duh. Facebook is a social place where you connect with people you like. Google’s a search engine. Apples and oranges. ‘Nuf said.
  2. Related to #1 – Google’s main thing – their search engine – has been #1 for a long time. But the web has been morphing from primarily a place you surf and search for content to a place where you connect with people. You can see that in the graphic above – look at the mix of search engines, social places, email, etc.
  3. #2 leads to my last point – not certain the percentages are an accurate reflection of reality. Why? Well – they’re comparing Facebook – where you can do lots of stuff, like chat, watch videos, see pics of people, leave status updates, do Facebook PM emails, etc – to only Google’s search engine. But if you add up all the Google properties in this top 20 list – Google, YouTube, Gmail, and Google Maps – Google still clearly comes out on top.

Just picky this morning!

Finding and Saving Those Tweets

After I posted Twitter Search Engines a couple days ago, Gary Price chatted with me about TwapperKeeper. Basically, Twapperkeeper can save tweets and hashtags, and creates an archive of them for you… so you, say, don’t lose track of a hashtag you created a couple of weeks ago.

What other similar tools are out there? Check out these useful posts:

Hope you find these useful!

Twitter Search Engines

Twenty two days ago, I asked readers to tweet how they get permission to do stuff using the #getpermission hashtag in Twitter. Yesterday, I remembered that I needed to copy/paste some of those tweets into my How YOU Get Permission post … and failed miserably! Why? Because tweets pretty much disappear after about a week and a half. Technically the tweets are still there – they’re just not found by most search engines, Twitter’s included.

So I did some furious searching, and actually found a few of those hashtag tweets! Which search engines worked?

Here’s a list of Twitter search engines and what they found. Thankfully, there’s one #getpermission tweet out there right now, so theoretically, every search should at least find that recent tweet. Let’s see what happens!

Found the most recent tweet plus something else:

  • Topsy – found it, plus three others (including the ones I quoted in my last post). You have to click “all time” to get those. It’s obviously NOT all time, or it would have found everything else, too. Not sure what’s up with that. But hey – it’s something!
  • twazzup – found it, plus found my last post, a news article that mentioned “get permission”
  • crowdeye – found it plus one other, plus my blog post.

Found the most recent tweet only:

And finally, search engines that found nothing – not even the most recent tweet:

  • Tweetmeme
  • twitority
  • twitalyzer – this one didn’t search at all – they claimed that Twitter was acting up again, and said “come back later!”
  • yauba
  • tweefind
  • cloud.li
  • trendistic
  • twittertroll – Interestingly, they said “no results. We suck” when nothing was found. Well … yes, you do!
  • twitterment – This one doesn’t seem to search hashtags. It took my hashtag, separated the words, and ran a search for “get permission”
  • oneriot – this search stripped out the hashtag and found something completely unrelated.
  • twitmatic – dunno. still waiting for the search to complete its “first time indexing” …

So there you have it! Want to find an “ancient” tweet (as in, older than 10 days)? I’d suggest using Topsy or Crowdeye (probably both).

Fun Twitter bird by Marc Benton