More Chat in the Catalog

Remember my post on TSCPL’s Meebo chat widget embedded in our library catalog? Since then, we have stopped using the Meebo Me widget. It was great – it helped us start our IM reference service, and it was easy to embed pretty much wherever we wanted. But we grew out of it!

We discovered a few shortcomings, like not being able to send hotlinks through it, and our public services staff really wanted the ability to send an IM to someone else. So now, we’re using Libraryh3lp for our IM reference service. Libraryh3lp gives us those added benefits and more.

And we’re doing a few different things with the catalog embed, too. Here’s a pic of the keyword, No Records Found search:

New version of the Chat Reference service in the catalog

We’re trying to make instructions clear, friendly and attractive. If you click the Ask Now button, you get a tiny IM widget pop-up page. Why pop-up? With our Meebo widget, we discovered that a lot of people would start asking a question, then click something … and they’d be gone, because they had clicked away from the page with the embedded IM widget. Bumer! With our new pop-up version, that problem is solved. Users can click away all they want … and still interact with us.

But even cooler than that – Michael, our web designer (one of his many hats) discovered a way to embed a similar thing on the Search Results page:

Search Results page - Chat added!

This provides more opportunities for patrons to ask questions when they get stuck on a search – even if they’re finding things. Basically, they have access to us ON EVERY SEARCH they do.

And not just IM access – that’s provided via the Ask Now button. But we also include our phone number and a link to our email Ask a Librarian form.

We’re excited about this – should be fun to see if we get more catalog-related questions.

Watching Local News go Viral

screenshot of twitter reactionWe live in a new world. A world in which local decisions made by very small groups can go viral, can be spread by a variety of social media tools, and can even reach global and unintended audiences. We are no longer private or anonymous! I watched just this thing unfold last Thursday at my library’s Board of Trustees meeting.

We Went Viral

By now, some of you have probably heard about the decision my library’s Board of Trustees made last Thursday regarding restricting access to four books in our collection. By the end of the evening, our very local library board meeting was the 7th hottest “trend” in Twitter.

I had decided to tweet the board meeting – I posted play-by-play public comments made by people in the community and the deliberations of the board on a hot topic. I used #tscpl as a hashtag, since I wanted to provide an easy way for people to follow the meeting as it progressed.

Camera Crews Getting Set UpAnd I started tweeting. I took photos of the local TV news vehicles lined up outside the library and a few pics of the meeting, and posted them to Twitter via the TwitPic service (a service that lets you easily share photos on Twitter). Jim Ogle, general manager at a local TV station (and cool tweep at @jimogle), was also present and tweeting at the meeting, as were a few other Twitter users.

Who followed the conversation? Local Topekans who weren’t at the meeting were following. Library staff that worked the evening shift were following along, too. Since I have my tweets linked to my Facebook status, Facebook friends were also following and participating by making comments and asking questions. Other librarians were following the meeting, as well.

In other news, I trended in twitterAt some point in the evening, our hashtag, #tscpl,”trended” on Twitter. What’s trending? “Trending topics on Twitter are keywords that happen to be popping up in a whole bunch of tweets. We measure these topics and adjust them in real-time throughout the day. It’s a great way of finding out what’s happening right now.” – from Twitter’s blog.

And like I said, we were the 7th hottest trend for a while – sure wish I had a screenshot of that! The screenshot I DID get is from my iPhone, capturing some Twitter Trend-watching services that noticed our hashtag was trending.

We Went Global

The next day, the conversation continued, and it went global. People continued tweeting about the meeting and the decision, and I posted news stories as I found them. An AP reporter was at the Thursday meeting, so we made the AP newswire… and we quickly made the USAToday, the International Herald Tribune, and the Taipei Times, of all places. And of course the usual library-related news sites noticed.

Some unintended but interesting sites: two adult industry news sites (found via twitter searches for tscpl and topeka), some book industry news sites, and a children’s rights group. With some of these, I’m guessing they follow a combination of keyword searches and RSS feeds – they primarily picked up the AP story.

The conversation on those sites is continuing, since many of them allow comments on each article! It’s actually quite interesting to compare the local comments on the Topeka newspaper story to the comments on the USAToday story (98 comments so far).

We’re No Longer Private

What’s this all mean? That Twitter works great as a real-time information spreader and conversation starter. That people are interested even in seemingly local stuff. That … yes … even your small library board meeting is no longer private.

The WORLD is watching.

Video Coolness at My Library

Have you been thinking about diving into video? Confused about where to begin? Here are some ideas, taken from the highly creative people that work at my library.

First off, the William Allen White booktalks. What are they? From our Papercuts blog: “Traditionally, the Kansas William Allen White (WAW) book award nominee booktalks have been performed annually by Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library staff in person at local area schools. Realizing that it is impossible to reach all students in the service area in person, Sandy Lane and Robin Clark collaborated with Topeka area gifted students to produce these highly creative videos on Youtube featuring book reviews of the current William Allen White nominees for 2007-2008. The videos include interviews from “The Dr. Dyl Show”, several inanimate object reviewers, masked anonymous book reviewers, and one with exceptional headgear.” (go read the whole post!).

Here are the videos:

Two other videos from my library to point out:

  • 90 second book review: Austenland – ”
    The Barbies are back, this time to act out scenes from the novel Austenland by Shannon Hale” (from the About This Video on the YouTube page).
  • World of Warcraft commercial parody – Belf Librarian – “Lysistrata is a Blood Elf Hunter. She is also a librarian. This video is a parody of the popular Mr T. and Shatner commercials, made by a Warcraft Blood Elf about her alternate life in the library.” (again, from the About This Video text). This is a cool video – and a great example of machinima, too.

You can find these videos and more on our YouTube channel. So… that’s what we’re doing with video… what are YOU doing with video?