23 things: Part 6 – Twitter

Activity 6 – Using Twitter

Reflection

I have noticed that there is a divide with regards to Twitter: those who use it (not all may love it, but they see some sort of value in the service) and those who fail to see a point to it. I often hear people say, “Why would I want to know what so-and-so is doing?”. The prevailing assumption among non-users often appears to be that Twitter is an over-hyped status update tool, but to believe so is to overlook the means of communication that the site provides.

Twitter is not a status update feed; it is a micro-blogging site. While much of the content on Twitter may be irrelevant to many (as with much of the web), the Library of Congress deemed it a potential avenue for future research into society and culture, acquiring the right to archive Twitter’s content in 2010 (Read more here). Twitter provides users with an outlet through which to communication on all manner of topics and tracks these topics through the use of hash tags to note trends based on tagged keywords.

Using Twitter for ILI

For librarians that want to stay connected with users, but do not have the time to publish meaningful content on a blog, micro-blogging may be the answer. Many libraries use Twitter to keep their patrons informed about events, closures, and other relevant news; but librarians can also keep track of current events and happenings to cite during instruction sessions. One way to do this is to use the Twitter trending menu, which lists the most used phrases and terms on Twitter (these are often tied to major national or international events, or to pop culture). Trends can also be searched. Knowing what patrons may be interested in is one way to connect with them and bring useful, relevant topics to the instruction session.

In addition, as with many social networking tools, Twitter provides an opportunity for professional development in ILI and ways to connect with fellow librarians interested in ILI and/or how to use social media in libraries.

I use Twitter as a feed and as a means to promote my own content. My tweets can be found here: @thingssheread

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23 things: Part 5 – Social Media and Networking

Activity 5 – Using Facebook and LinkedIn

Reflection

It used to be that “networking” was a catchphrase for business types and motivational speakers. Every student organization meeting I ever attended during my undergrad years involved at least one mention of the term networking and how crucial it would be in our careers. Generally this meant going to meetings, workshops, seminars, etc. to hand out copies of resumes and/or business cards, and generally hob-nob with possible employers or “contacts”.

Social networking sites have changed all that. With sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Orkut, MySpace, Ning, and numerous others, it is fairly easy for anyone to establish an online presence and watch their network grow. Social media allows users to interact with individuals with similar interests and pursuits, possibly even making that crucial connection.

Using LinkedIn and Facebook for Information Literacy

Facebook can serve as a powerful medium through which to communicate with students/patrons and introduce them to materials and services available through the library, as well as a means through which to promote library events that provide information literacy instruction. I recently created a Facebook page for the library where I work; it is still in its inception, but I have taken to using the page to alert students about workshops, lectures, and other events that raise awareness of current issues. I plan on using the site to also present information on the various databases and resources that we offer, so that students are made aware of sources that they may overlook while visiting the library’s web page. The best part is that Facebook sends me regular updates on how many users have viewed posts made on the page, so I can learn more about the content that appeals to them and finds ways to use the site to learn about their needs (Facebook offers polling and commenting options that may work well for informal needs assessments, if enough followers are willing to participate).

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn focuses on professional development rather than socialization. LinkedIn highlights personal and professional accomplishments, experience, and goals, and also provides apps through which to showcase projects and other items. While the site may be effective to connect with students and patrons through a group page, I find that the best use of LinkedIn with regards to Information Literacy Instruction is the ability to connect with members of professional organizations and others interested in ILI.

I can be found on both sites at the following URLs:
http://www.facebook.com/gricel
http://www.linkedin.com/in/griceld

23 things: Part 4 – RSS & Newsreaders

Activity 4 – Google Reader

Reflection

RSS feeds allow newsreaders, such as Google Reader, to aggregate entries from your favorite or most frequented blogs in a single, easy to access location. Most blogs and news sites have the option of easily subscribing to that site’s RSS feed, though many sites now make it easier than ever to subscribe to their feed through various social media services and apps.

I first started using a newsreader when the number of blogs that I frequented became too much for me to follow on a daily basis. Programs such as Outlook and Thunderbird, and services such as MSN and Yahoo, provide an option for users to subscribe to RSS feeds, but my favorite service remains Google Reader, a completely free application available through Google. I have probably mentioned this before, but I am a total Google devotee.

One of the things that I particularly enjoy about Google’s reader service is the ability to tag and categorize items and/or blogs. This makes it much easier for me to read what I am interested in at the moment. It makes it so easy to follow blogs that I often find myself subscribing to far too many, which may pose a problem when the blog writer posts with regular frequency. I recently had to review the number of sites to which I subscribe, unsubscribing from those that I could no longer keep up with, or which I prefer to read on a less regular basis. I currently have 19 subscriptions categorized, or “labeled” as, book blogs, author blogs, cooking, baking, libraries, Austenites, and misc. It is something of an addiction.

Newsreaders and Information Literacy

One of the main uses of RSS feeds and readers in information literacy is the opportunity for professional development that these services provide, especially when the user is interested in remaining abreast of trends and best practices in information literacy instruction.

They are also a great way to follow library and librarian blogs to gain insight into the way that others in the field are handling issues and challenges in their libraries, and interactions with patrons.

When I first considered library science as a career option, I turned to librarian blogs for insight into the real world of librarianship, the kind of information that you cannot find in textbooks. I started following bloggers such as Jessamyn West and Librarian in Black, as well as LIS News and others. This provided me with my first glimpse of the roles librarians play and prepared me for the options that would be available to me in the profession. My advice to students and friends who ask me what it means to be a librarian often involves telling them to follow a few library blogs to see if they are interested in the topics discussed. I think this works equally well for librarians interested in finding their own voice within the online library community and sharing their experience and desire to learn about information literacy.

23 things: Part 3 – Flickr

Activity 3 – Using Flickr

Reflections

I have long used Flickr to post images to my blogs. In addition to posting my own images (effectively backing up my photos), I often search and share images posted by others, often using these to provide visuals for blog posts, coursework, and work-related projects.

My personal Flickr photostream can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/emperatrix/

Using Flickr for library instruction

Most web users are familiar with Flickr, whether they use it to showcase their own pictures, to view those of others, or have encountered images hosted on Flickr across the web. However, there is more to Flickr than storing and sharing images. Flickr provides a vast collection of member images licensed under Creative Commons licenses, as well as collections from some of the world’s greatest museums and institutions in the The Commons, many of which can be used for non-commercial purposes.The site also features options to tag images using folksonomy terms, as well as a geotag feature that helps users find images based on location. Instruction librarians can take advantage of these royalty-free images for use in instructional slide shows and tutorials in order to connect with visual learners.

In addition, librarians can make use of Flickr’s user-friendly interface to upload images of library collections, study areas, and labs, or to feature library faculty and staff so that patrons can visualize the variety of resources and services available to them. For instance, a multi-story library that divides the collection by floor can create a visual “map” of the collection by uploading images of each floor with a detailed description of the items located in each area, as well as basic information on how to locate materials by call number. Photos of reference areas and help desks can also help patrons see where they can go for assistance.

Library publications, such as how-to guides and pathfinders can also be posted on Flickr (if saved in an appropriate image format). These items can be linked on the library’s instruction page or homepage, making them available to users, and organized in sets on the library’s Flickr account.

However, it is important to remember that cooperation between the library’s webpage manager and the instruction librarian will be necessary if these visual aids are to be made accessible to patrons. Consideration of how to showcase and/or link images on the library’s homepage will need to be taken into account so that the images serve an effective instructional role.

23 things: Part 2 – Social Bookmarking

Activity 2 – Social Bookmarking

Reflections

I an am avid user of social bookmarking programs. Social bookmarking programs allow users to save links to web content for future reference without being tied to a particular computer or browser, while also encouraging users to index information using folksonomy tags, essentially classifying web pages according to user-derived keywords. There are plenty of options available for users interested in bookmarking and tagging web content, but the two that I prefer to use are Delicious and Google Bookmarks.

I generally use Google Bookmarks for personal bookmarks, as this service is linked to my Chrome browser (which automatically saves my bookmarks through my Google Apps account). However, a few semesters ago, I began to use Delicious to bookmark sites related to LIS, coursework, and technology. This greatly reduced my need to sift through countless bookmarks, while the tag display and notes options allowed me to quickly access pertinent links when referring previously accessed information. I find this to be a very efficient option for students and individuals who frequently conduct online research, as well as those who use multiple computers throughout the day and want to have access to their bookmarks.

My personal Delicious account and bookmarks can be found here: http://www.delicious.com/emperatrix

Using social bookmarking for information literacy instruction

Social bookmarking tools provide a great opportunity for librarians, subject specialists, and instructors to identify and promote websites that have been reviewed for currency, relevance, and scholarship. Pertinent web pages can be identified and organized according to subject-based tags derived from course syllabi and assignments (words that will be familiar to students and, therefore, facilitate access to information), so that students and instructors will have a database of valid web sources for use in class.

23 things: Part 1 – Blogging

Activity 1 – Blogging

My experience

I created my first blog when I was 15 (1999 for those who want to do the math). There is a lot of personal history tied up with my experience as a blogger. In the early days, there were few options available. My first blog was on LiveJournal, I then moved on to a self-hosted Blogger blog through GeoCities. As soon as I turned 18, I signed up for my own webspace and started experimenting with blog design on the MoveableType platform. I now use WordPress.

As a media format, blogging has come a long way. The early blogging platforms that I experimented with often required some knowledge of HTML and CSS in order to customize the look and feel of my blog, but platforms like Blogger and WordPress have made it possible for just about anyone to set up and maintain a blog.

When I first started blogging, it was as a means of self-expression with little regard for form or style. As I started my academic career, I began to think of my blogging as an extension of my writing, and sought to develop my “voice” as a writer. I now think of blogging as a way of communication and self-publishing, and have come to feel responsible for the content I write (particularly on my book blog). I have also started to consider the means through which blogging can be applied in education and librarianship.

Using blogs in an instructional setting

Blogs provide a great opportunity for expression, but they can also serve a role in an instructional setting. Here are some ways that blogs can be used for information literacy instruction in an academic setting:

  • Students can use blogs as research journals that detail the research process (from choosing a subject to finding, analyzing, and summarizing relevant information). Students will be able to share their strategies and techniques with other members of their class, thereby taking instruction into their own hands and reflecting on what they learn about their personal search strategies and research skills.
  • Blogs can also be used by information literacy specialists to highlight resources available through the university/college library which meet the needs of students enrolled in specific courses. Instructors can coordinate with the information specialist to determine the best resources for students. Students can then comment on the resources that were most useful during the research process, or post questions and concerns regarding their use.
  • Blogging can also provide ESL students, and students with poor writing skills with an avenue through which to practice their writing and improve their grammar. Students are often highly aware of their writing when they know that others will read it; blogging connects them to the process of information creation and dissemination on the web.

the stack calls me

The time has come when, despite the best of intentions, the end of the semester has caught up with me. Just a few more edits and some finishing touches, and I can finally take a break from classwork. Though, this semester has definitely given me some food for thought… I’m seriously considering specializing in cataloging and metadata. I always knew I wanted to go for the more digital aspects of librarianship (I’m a web geek after all), but I have gotten really into the idea of cataloging information. And thinking about folksonomies and how information is described online has sparked my interest even further. I’ve never spent so much time thinking about how the tags I use might lead a user to find relevant information (especially on my book blog).

any Second Life users? Please comment

Second Life is pretty big in the education sector and they keep hyping it up among librarians. I never saw the appeal in the program, but I decided to give it a try for a communications assignment that I have to complete.

I hate it. I have no patience when it comes to flying or my avatar’s crab-crawl walk. I find that the educational uses all seem good on paper, but I wouldn’t want to have to use this thing to take a class.

However, a lot of the people in the class that I’m taking think that we “millenials” are only capable of learning online. We’re “always” on the interwebs, we must want to learn using these mediums.

My question is: Do any of you currently use Second Life? Or have  you used it in the past? Would you use this for an extended period of time to learn, or is it just a glorified chat room?

Opinions, comments, rants are much appreciated.