Libraries on Alltop

libraries on Alltop

Finally! Libraries now have a home on Alltop, along with a bunch of other interesting topics (ok, I emailed them and asked for it – and they listened. Nice.).

You’re familiar with Alltop, right? It’s basically a list of blogs/news sites for a variety of topics. From their About page – “The purpose of Alltop is to help you answer the question, “What’s happening?” in “all the topics” that interest you.” It’s sort of a subject guide for the web.

So, it’s a quick way to get an overview of what’s going on in any given topic. I use it to follow web design, for example – I subscribe to the topic via the RSS feed, then skim through the topics in my RSS reader. It’s easier than hunting down individual blogs that I wouldn’t necessarily know.

Anyway, thought I’d share!

Mashups and Subject Guides

I just had an interesting thought about library websites and mashups. Look at Wikipedia’s definition of a mashup:

“A mashup is a website or web application that seamlessly combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience.”

… and it goes on …

“Content used in mashups is typically sourced from a third party via a public interface or API. Other methods of sourcing content for mashups include Web feeds (e.g. RSS or Atom) and JavaScript.”

I was thinking about how I could add the concept of mashups into my fledgling web 2.0 presentation, and trying to come up with a not-too-techie example or two (pass some along if you have them!). And it dawned on me – those pesky Subject Guides that I talk about frequently could be considered to be mashups!

Why? A Subject Guide for a library website combines information from different sources. It can point to and even house information from the catalog, like new books or videos on a specific topic. It can point to articles in a database. It can point to original content created by staff. It can point to global web content. The catch is that it focuses on one area, or topic.

And in the process, a subject guide can use a combination of HTML, RSS, XML, Javascript, PERL, ColdFusion (in my library’s case),etc to create these guides.

OK – a subject guide maybe doesn’t really catch the geeky essense of a mashup, because for the most part, we aren’t using APIs or public interfaces to capture the information. But still – the concept is the same. We are taking information from “more than one source,” and combining it into an “integrated experience” that will help our patrons quickly find the information they need.

Library 2.0, Web 2.0, Mashup, Subject Guide

SJCPL’s Subject Guide Wiki

Michael and Maire posted about their library’s awesome Subject Guide wiki. And awesome it is! It is easily accessible from their library’s main page, and already has 17 subjects listed (last Friday there were three, so those librarians are busy!). And nowhere on the website is the word “Wiki” mentioned, which is great – the term would just confuse most patrons (and those who know what wikis are will recognize it as a wiki anyway).

Click on a Subject Guide, and you get a variety of info, depending on the Guide. For example, the Business Guide currently includes Company Information, Personal Finance Planning, Programs and Events, links, etc. And the best part? They get the whole Subject Guide thing – they’re pointing to their content: linking to their databases, books, and events. They’re even pointing to a few non-library events that are focused on the particular subject guide’s topic – way cool.

Then the wiki part kicks in… each guide has a discussion section where customers can add comments to the guide – think instant feedback, content contributions, and a stronger sense of community. And – if you really want to – you can subscribe to the Recent Changes RSS feed (it’s sorta hidden, and sorta techie-looking – but it IS a way to see what’s being updated).

But that’s just for patrons… what about staff? The nice thing about a wiki, of course, is the built-in ability to edit pages without having to know HTML, PHP, Ajax, or any number of nasty coding languages. You can just edit, update, and creat useful content. The wiki is set up for library staff to log in and edit (and no one else gets to), which is fine in this instance.

Visual design: It currently looks very much like a wiki – which works for SJCPL. Their website currently uses a white background with images to brighten things up, and so the wiki’s white background and text blends in nicely. But I’m curious about how much can be changed, design-wise, with this wiki. I’d hate to go from my library’s tan/brown colors to the default wiki white – that’d be sorta jarring to our customers.

Are there other libraries using wiki’s for subject guides? Yes. Check out Ohio University Libraries Biz Wiki. And check out this great article on what librarians can do with a wiki, written by Meredith. So go – check out the wiki subject guides, read Meredith’s article, then sit and think: will this help my library meet our goals? If so, go for it!


Manga at the Library

How many libraries can say they have a manga page? With links directly connected to your library catalogs?

By no means are these classics … but they are what a segment of our customers want. So my real question to you – are you using your website to point customers to content?