Friday, February 1, 2013

Evaluative and Reflective Statements on INF506


This last post in Social Networking and The Library will evaluate and reflect on my learning over the summer session.  Engaged in the module readings and responding to those readings has allowed me to achieve the learning objectives of INF506.

The following three posts are those I will be using demonstrate my understandings:

Learning Objectives

1.    Social networking technologies

Social networking technologies are about participation and creation.  In my post Social Media and the Library, I examined three school libraries, and the social networking tools they have employed to engage their library community.  These range from social bookmarking tools, blogs, RSS and Facebook, to  specialized applications such as GoodReads and Bookcrossing. 

It is not enough to simply set up a Facebook page, or a blog or link to GoodReads, it is essential to have an understanding of the culture of whichever social networking tool is being used (Hafaele, 2008).   It is this grasp of how users are accustomed to using an application like Facebook that is a deal breaker for success. The library webpage can’t expect to operate outside the conventions of an application, if the point of using web 2.0 tools is to meet people where they are familiar and comfortable, we need to be consistent with the accepted format (Brookover, 2007).   

2.          Concepts theory and practice of library 2.0

If Web 2.0 is about participation and creation, Library 2.0 is customer driven – responsive to and informed by the use of social networking tools.  (Casey and Savastinuk, 2006).   Library 2.0 occurs in the context of user needs.  Additionally, Miller (2005) points out that libraries themselves are participants also, not just the end user, an interesting perspective. 

I explored this new style of responsive library by looking at the Blue Mountains City Library website on the 4/12/12.

Creating a list of 8 criteria for effective library websites by selecting those that seemed most relevant from Matthews (2009), I applied them to BMCC library.  My number one criteria at that stage, was looking for up to date information and regular postings. Under this criteria, I included response from the library.  A facebook page or blog which is not regularly updated or unresponsive will not engage the community (Crawford, 2008).

By the end of the semester, I would include in the list one further criteria – understanding the culture of the tool being used (Hafaele, 2008).

3.     Examine features and functionality of SN tools to meet user needs

Social networking tools are not static applications.  To keep users interested, they must be busy, there should be change, it is not “finished” once it is set up, setting up is only the beginning.

Facebook for example should include the things that people expect to see there, yet be blended with library business.   The average Facebook wall is a patchwork of updates, photos, videos, stories and humour.  How does this translate to a library Facebook page?

There are libraries harnessing Facebook, and the key to their success seems to be their grasp of the concept of culture that Hafaele (2009) describes.  I identified Goldenview Middle School Facebook page as an example (27/1/13).

Facebook is a medium (at this stage) for people over 13, so is unlikely to be utilized in a primary school library.  That said, the Facebook “rules” could easily be applied to a school library blog – a safe place for students, that could serve a similar function.  This is how I would approach a primary school library blog. 

4.          Evaluate SN technologies to support informational and collaborative needs of communities.

Unless we are able to determine what our user communities want from their online library experience, we will not be able to effectively meet their information needs.

In the Social Media and the Library post, I observed that Brisbane Grammar School use 11 SN tools.  Some of these tools double up in function, and there is little to be gained from using for example 3 different social bookmarking applications.  Evaluating which is the right tool for the situation is essential (Harvey, 2009).  

5.          Understanding of social, cultural, educational, ethical and technical management issues in a socially networked world, and its implications for policy development.

Developing policy around use of social media must be purposeful, the guidelines must be clear.  I considered this in some depth in my post on the 26/12/12, in particular, what is called The Participation Gap (Jenkins et al, 2006), and online privacy. 

We cannot expect students to intuitively know what is right, so teaching must be explicitly informed by well developed policy.  Online etiquette is a developing subject, as it is a relatively new medium.  Students need more than the device and the connection they need comprehensive instruction and guidance about online culture, ethical expectations and technical issues. 


At the beginning of the course, when I listed my use of social networking for the first assignment, I realized that I was already well connected online – a user of Facebook, forums, games, twitter, photobucket, youtube, pinterest, delicious, rss, blog reader and writer.  However.  My use was not always well informed, and I didn’t feel that I was exploiting at least some of the applications to their full potential.  INF 506 has guided me through an extensive reading list, which has informed my use of various social networking tools far beyond my knowledge prior to the course.

Initially, I found the Facebook platform for our class discussions difficult to navigate, and felt that our contributions lacked some of the depth of the discussion on the university forums.  As the course draws to a close, my opinion has changed, we have met on Facebook as colleagues, sharing in ways that I have not seen on the forums - sharing articles, ideas and pictures.   I am glad I continued to post, I described it as feeling “exposed”, but was encouraged by the contributions of others. 

I had already tried out Delicious before this semester, but didn’t persist, I was determined to make a bigger effort this time around, and while I still find it difficult to use, I have persisted, and found that tagging became easier as I forced myself to consider it logically.  I used it when researching my assignment, and found it was far more helpful as an organizational tool than I had anticipated – mostly because of the tagging feature which I had been resistant to initially.  I even searched for similar tags, which produced some useful resources.

I still feel that I am not using it to potential, but I am beginning to see how social bookmarking is a useful tool.  I have discussed my use of Delicious in this blog on the 27/1/13.

I would like to try a different social bookmarking application, such as diigo, to explore whether it would suit me better.

I have used RSS to set up the beginnings of a personal learning network.  Google Reader is embedded in my iGoogle homepage, and feeds from various journals and blogs are delivered there.  I am still not reading everything that appears there, and think I need to be even more selective about the things I subscribe to.   I look forward to refining this, and now have the skills to do it.

Second Life
I participated in two guided tours of Second Life with Carol Gerts over the course of the semester.  It wasn’t until I watched the youtube videos shared by Northern Beaches Christian School that I really started to understand how exciting virtual worlds could be in education.  It is something I would like to explore further.

I have had a blog since 2004, that I work on sporadically.  I am not a super blogger, and my posting history is most remarkable for its lack of regularity. 

Looking back over the course, it is interesting to see my understanding of social media grow.   I appreciate the discipline needed to write regularly in response to my reading.  I have also enjoyed following the posts of my colleagues as they wrestle with the same issues, highlighting the social aspect of blogging.  Although I acknowledge that I am part of the 90% who do not respond (Dillingham, 2009), other than in their own heads.

I confess to being perplexed by flickr.  I set up an account, I’ve used it to source creative commons images.  I’ve looked at the photostreams of various schools, and for the most part, I think it is underutilized.  Comments are sporadic at best, but often non existent. 

I will persist with Flickr for creative commons image, and I would like to try a photo challenge, uploading a photo of something specific every day for a month,
perhaps using the list from this website.

I have started to develop a twitter network, following 20, with 5 followers of my own (although this number ebbs and flows).  I am still not a regular tweet-er, though I have come to understand the value of these short bursts of information.  Having a more thorough understanding of the function of tagging has been useful.

The research involved in my project gave me renewed confidence in my development as a social networker.  My hypothesis was that it wasn’t necessary to utilize every tool available when designing a library website and that judicious selection was more useful.  I would extend this to my own use of social media.  It is acceptable to not use every social networking tool.  At the moment, I am comfortable with Google reader to collect my RSS feeds, Facebook groups to keep me in touch with colleagues, and a blog to articulate my thoughts about what I read and learn.  I anticipate that gaining employment in a library will push me to extend that to twitter, and to reaching out to my library community.

I have travelled from using social media for primarily social reasons, to understanding how valuable it is to me as an information professional.  Both to engage and enrich student learning, but also to keep up to date and in touch with new developments of interest professionally.  I have set up my presence as a librarian online, using a consistent user name across accounts on twitter, delicious and flickr.  My PLN is developing, and I use Google Reader to catch my RSS feeds, this is set up to appear on my homepage. I don’t want to be representative of this:

  Screenshot from: Lost in Mobile 2002 – 2012.


Brookover, 2/ (2007).  Why we blog.  Library Journal 11/5/2007.  Retrieved January 12, 2013 from

Crawford, W (2008), Libraries and the Social Web.  Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, Volume 8, Number 11.  Retrieved January 15, 2013 from

Casey, M. & Savastinuk, L. (2006). Library 2.0: Service for the next-generation library, Library Journal, 1 September. Retrieved  January 20, 2013 from

Haefele, C.  (2008).  Culture and social networking sites, Hidden Peanuts.   Retrieved January 15, 2013 from
Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century.  Retrieved January 21, 2013 from
Lost in Mobile (2002 – 2012). Retrieved on February 2, 2013 from

Miller, P. (2005). Web 2.0: Building the new library, Ariadne, 45, 30 October. Retrieved from

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Social Media and the Library

Use of Social Media at 3 different secondary schools across the world.  

Brisbane Grammar School



















* Link marked Delicious but leads to Diigo.

Web 2.0 is about participation, it is dynamic rather than static in nature. Users are contributors.   Johnson and Valenza (2009) insist that we maintain an online presence, as our future relevance depends upon it.   I’d we don’t keep up, we will be left behind and our users will find other ways to fill their information needs.  As a user, when I want to know something, I do go to google and look for it, and increasingly, Facebook pops up in the search results.  Some pages are well done and worth having, others hugely frustrating, and better off not being there with the lack of helpful information given.  As an example of a truly useless page that had me gnashing my teeth in frustration here is the Penrith Panthers Fireworks for New year page).  It could have been great.  New Years Eve, it had even less information than is on there now, almost a month later.  A Facebook page that is not updated, or a blog with infrequent posts are not going to engage patrons (Crawford, 2008), and become a tool that frustrates users rather than being useful. 

Facebook is primarily seen as a tool for connecting socially, so where does the library Facebook page fit into that culture?  And education in general?  With 1.01 billion users in September 2012 (figure from Yahoo Finance, 2012), it is clear that Facebook is an important social media tool that has potential to impact education for students over 13.

Goldenview Middle School have created a lively page, and in 2012, made 112 posts. There are a significantly higher number of comments and likes, and the library staff are responsive to their community.  Questions do not remain unanswered for long.  Goldenview understand the culture of Facebook.  Their posts are relevant, yet interesting and varied.  It is not just a list of announcements –there are pictures and videos linked, some humorous, interspersed with announcements.  The librarian also uses it to have conversations about online safety issues.

Used well, social media can make the library feel more personalized, and the connection is in a form that is already very familiar to most patrons.  Blogs fall into this category also, and increasingly, schools are using blogs as a way of connecting.

BGS have used a lot of tools to engage their community, and perhaps have taken on too many things, as there is little participation evident in the form of comments on blogs.  When only 10% of a community are active participants, while the other 90% watch, using more than one or two social media tools will be unsuccessful at engaging patrons in discussion. 

Using multiple applications that have the same purpose is not a good use of time, and the effort of keeping each one up to date is unlikely to be worthwhile as far as community benefit (Harvey, 2009).  The same can be said of using more than one social bookmarking application, which allow users to save articles and websites to one place (DesRoches, 2007).  If two are used, it is no longer simple.

When considering how patrons will contact the library, it is unnecessary and potentially damaging to provide more than a couple of options, as it increases the likelihood that messages will be overlooked (Harvey, 2009).  The patron who feels ignored, is not happy, and an unhappy community member has a wide scope for expressing their dissatisfaction.  Customer response must be fast, positive and consistent

Crawford, W (2008), Libraries and the Social Web.  Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, Volume 8, Number 11.  Retrieved on January 15, 2013 from

DesRoches, D. (2007). All Together Now: Social Bookmarking Offers a New Way to Store and Share Web Sites. School Library Journal, 53(1), 33.  Retrieved on January 18, 2013 from

Harvey, M.  (2009).  What does it mean to be a science librarian 2.0?  Retrieved on January 1, 2013 from

Valenza, J and Johnson, D (2009).  Things that keep us up at night.  School library Journal, v 55, no 10 pp28 -32.  Retrieved on January 14, 2013 from

Yahoo Finance (2012) Number of active Facebook users over the years.   Retrieved on January 17, 2013 from

 Castilleja Girls School (USA)

Brisbane Grammar School (Australia)

Goldenview Middle School Library Anchorage (USA)

OLJ Using Delicious


I had already setup a Delicious account for ETL 401.  Set it up, but made poor use of it.  In fact, no use at all.  I found it confusing and clunky, and not at all intuitive.  I’m not enormously technically mindful, but I’m not an idiot either.

So I approached Delicious with a fair amount of skepticism about its potential usefulness to me.  I also had to set up a new account, because I am trying to make my librarian persona online consistent, so use a different pseudonym than I do for forums or game playing.  This is library me on Delicious (

Even as the course draws to a close, and I reflect on my learning, I don’t think I have discovered or used delicious in a way that realizes its potential as a networking tool.  I have used it though, to help me organize my research for assignment 2 – and have used tagging reasonably effectively, that I am able to locate the things I need.  At the end of assignment 2, I was not faced with the monumental task of gathering together all of my resources and writing them into a list of references, I kept on top of that as I went along, and even managed to keep them reasonably alphabetical.  Any reference that slipped through the net without a URL was easily located from my delicious bookmarks.  This was a huge improvement on my previously haphazard and highly stressful approach to referencing. 

I also used Delicious to check what others had labeled inf506, and that yielded some gems as far as assignment writing too.

My other heavily used labels are for teaching resources.  Even if I don’t have my own laptop with me, using Delicious means that those bookmarks are available to me wherever there is a computer, or even from my phone. 

I feel that there is much more I could do from a networking point of view than I have currently managed, and from feeling very dubious about the worth of delicious, I am much more positive. 

Earlier in the semester I wrote that I was bad at tagging, but I have forced myself to do it, and I’m pleased with the result. 

In a school environment, it could be used in a way that allowed students access to their teachers bookmarks, it could be used for staff to share ideas and resources.  The advantages are obvious - information is easily accessible from anywhere (home or school), it is organised and it is not going to get lost.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Assignment 2 and all the discoveries I made along the way

I was overwhelmed at the beginning of assignment 2, and unsure of how I was going to proceed.  I don't have a school community I am attached to that I could create a project, so I knew it had to be a case study, but what to choose??

Then I read What does it mean to be a science librarian 2.0?, and it gave me my theme, can we overload our websites and our community with too many tools.

I've learned such an enormous amount in the writing of this assignment, and although my original expectations weren't born out by my research (ie, the school that I expected to have made a hash of using too many web2.0 tools didn't have many at all, it was links that was their issue, and terrible website design), I did happily choose a school that used too many things, another which had a very successful blog, and yet another that has a lively Facebook page.  All very helpful for writing my assignment and arguing that doing one or two things well was preferable to doing many things superficially.

One of the most important things about moderating a successful Facebook page is understanding the cultureof Facebook.  Because it does have a culture, and people are not interested in a library that just sits on Facebook and does nothing.  The librarian (or whoever does the maintenance) needs to engage with the community, by responding, and by posting in a way that is compatible with the way FB is used by most people.  That is what Goldenview Middle School do well.  The posts are a mix of funny pictures, announcements, responses to queries, and all the things you would find on a friends Facebook page.  The librarians also slip in stuff about keeping safe online and the way Facebook itself works - many students didn't activate any privacy settings at all. As Facebook grows, it's use in education will no doubt expand.  People understand it, they use it for their own social networks, it is not a big jump to use it to keep in touch with your school community.  As long as you don't set yourself up as something unapproachable and dull.

I have also had a rekindled enthusiasm for GoodReads this session.  This could be because being summer holidays I have read a fair number of books this January.  I like to read the reviews others put up, though I'm hard to please, I don't want to necessarily love all the really popular 5 star books, I don't have a lot of faith in the general publics discernment (Fifty Shades of Grey anyone?), but I also get put off by bad reviews.  I think GoodReads has huge potential for school libraries, but I haven't seen it utilised well so far.

After initially being a complainer about the Facebook page we have used instead of the university forums, I have come around.  An afternoon ferreting out the whys and wherefores of Book Crossing with a fellow student and I was hooked.  Interestingly there hasn't been the frantic panic of last semesters pre assignment rush as details were confirmed and re confirmed, and hysteria expressed and patted down.  Not sure why it has been different.  I still think that there are a lot of people who sit and watch and don't participate, but that is also born out by research - the figures are that 10% participate, and 90% just watch.  it has probably been slightly higher than that on our forum but not much.