July 2nd, 2011 Brian Herzog
Instead of a reference question I've answered this week, I wanted to bring attention to a resource for librarians to ask questions.
In April, the very useful Unshelved Answers went off-line - it was a forum that let librarians ask professional questions of other librarians. I used it frequently, both asking and answering, and was sad when this resource went away.
But recent tweets from @codinghorror and @jessamyn reminded me of an effort to start up a replacement Libraries forum - I say "effort," because it'll take your help to make it happen.
The new home will be at stackexchange.com, which requires a critical mass of people to "commit" to a new forum before it is activated. As I write this, we've got 316 of the 894 needed committers, so we still need more librarians to get involved. But don't let the word "commit" scare you - you're not dedicating your life to anything, just showing that you support the idea of the forum and will use it (at your own level of involvement).
The idea behind this Libraries forum, and Unshelved Answers before it, is to create a "reference desk for librarians" - but the official proposal description reads:
Proposed Q&A site for librarians and library professionals where they can share their expertise about libraries and everything in them.
In other words, this will be a place where we can ask questions about working in a library, seek help on reference questions, find out how other libraries are handling a particular issue, and, yes, whether or not we need more signs in the library (no).
And who better to ask than other librarians?
So please, take a minute, visit the new Librarians forum proposal page and click the green Commit! button - together we can make this happen, and together we can help each other make libraries better. Thanks.
March 23rd, 2011 Brian Herzog
Darlene Fichter, Research Services Librarian, University of Saskatchewan
Jeff Wisniewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh
Michael DeMars, California State University–Fullerton
Darlene - Counting is easy, knowing is hard
We must looks for signs of success, and places where we're falling down.
Good tools for detailed information:
Type in your library's name, and it searches the web to find comments posted about that you
it also shows trends/frequency of postings (be sure to use all phrases/names your patrons might call you)
Good tools for snapshot information:
Provides an overview of how many times you are mentioned on different sites
Also, just type your library's name (and variations) into Bing and Google and see what comes up - are people saying positive or negative things? What do your sites say about you?
Jeff - Tools for reviewing activity
Google Analytics In Page analytics
- Available from content section
- Visualizes activity by overlaying it on your webpage
- Quantitative: fans, users, page views
- Engagement: likes, comments
- measurement of overall online influence
- from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence
- pulls data mainly from Facebook and Twitter and other large social sites
- discover, evaluate and monitor your professional online brand
- gives you a FICO-like career score (350-850) for your personal brand
- tool that analyzes activity and sentiment using keywords on Twitter
- Activity: views, impressions
- Actions: maps, driving directions, clicks to website
- Be sure to officially claim your small business listing, to make sure it is correct
- social media dashboard - lets you post once to multiple social outlets (Twitter, Facebook, etc)
- recently added analytics so you can track effects related to your updates (again, in one place, instead of having to go to all of them to check)
- there is a pay and free, and even though a lot more is in the pay version, the free is pretty good
Mike - Using web metrics tools to inform web design decisions
Answering the question: who are they, where are they, and what are they thinking?
The website redesign project - use a formalized process with patrons as center stage, instead of just sitting around a room arguing about which font to use
Google Analytics - it's worth setting up
- they give you a small bit of code that you past in your site, and instantly starts tracking activity
- it gives you rich data on how your site is used - activity, times, locations, popular resources,
this gives you actual numbers, so you don't need to rely on national standards which may not actually reflect the makeup of your community
- gives you real data to make decisions, instead of basing everything on anecdotes (where people come from, what their connection is, how people are finding you [search engines, keywords], etc) - this gives a voice to the patrons you never see
- having a short time-spent-on-site metric is a good thing, because it means people are coming to your website, finding the database/website/resource they need, and linking out to it
- it will tell you what device people are using, and thus if you need a mobile website (and which devices to focus on)
Tags: analitics, cil11, cil2011, computers in libraries, conference, data, librarian, Library, logs, metrics, presentation
March 23rd, 2011 Brian Herzog
Bohyun Kim, Digital Access Librarian, &
Marissa Ball, Emerging Technologies Librarian, Florida International University
- Good information cannot make up for bad design
- Give people what they want, not what you want:
- read content on a website
- want to learn how to use their website
- visit your site every day
- return to sites that have failed them
But they are always on the move - design your website like a billboard that would appeal to commuters, because that's all the time you have to direct their attention
Designers Usability means "fit for use"
- intuitive - you don't need to think about how to use a hammer
- easy to recover from a mistake
- conducive to users performing tasks
- no need to learn to use it
Usability is difficult for libraries because we offer so much with so many options
- but most of our information in separate silos
- much of the terminology is jargon and foreign to users
- information is segmented by departments that is confusing to patrons
What libraries get wrong
- pre-conceived notions of important
- lack of research on user behavior
- belief that design can change user behavior
- design based upon a committee - this is slow, design lacks unity, and represents insider opinion more than the users'
- writing is unsuited to the web
Common usability problems and examples
- promote all things - nothing stands out
- user have no idea where to start/focus
- information overload = stress
How to fix
- improve by taking things out rather than adding
- be aware of clutter creeping in
- users are happy to click "as long as"
- it is mindless ("3 click rule" isn't true as long as clicking doesn't require effort or thought)
- they know they are getting closer
2. Dated look
- lowers credibility of the site
- users suspect outdated content
How to fix
- replace old icons, images, typography
- update a CSS file to give a new look
- as long as the site architecture is sound, serves the same group, and has a clear task pathway that work, no need for redesign - make sure you know what work needs to be done
3. Too subtle design
- users scan web pages like a billboard while driving at 60mph
- subtly in web design often backfires
- good web design is different than good print design, because people do things differently
How to fix
- make visually clear what's most important, valuable, popular
- provide a clear visual hierarchy on the page
- break pages up into clearly defined areas
4. Unclear terms/Library jargon
- test your site with new users
How to fix
- replace all jargon with plain terms
- do now use the product name or vendor names
- use a short description if name is not clear
5. Redundant and unnecessary content
- redundant content creeps in as time goes by (welcome, introduction, etc )
- unnecessary content = small talk (users have no interest in small talk)
- answer users' questions, not yours
- serve content that users can grab and go
How to fix
- remove small talk and explanations by using descriptive names
- make a content inventory
- review content by category & purpose
- remove overlapping, redundant, unnecessary content
6. Bad writing
- rewrite a page to be half of its length
- then cut more!
How to fix
- use clear headings
- make paragraphs short
- start with the key points
- make content easy to scan
7. Design against convention
- the best ally of usability is convention
- anything that prompts a pause and thinking is bad
- surprise, confusion, agony over choice (when there is no distinguishable difference), stress
How to fix
- don't underestimate the value of convention
- be creative without sacrificing usability
- convention implies:
- obvious and predictable
- clear paths to goals
8. Unintuitive navigation
- is it an information architecture an issue?
- if so, use usability testing method to find out what navigation structure or organization of content makes sense to users
User testing - quick, cheap and easy
- find out who your users are
- focus groups, surveys, and analytics data can all help determine which users to focus on
- it's best to test in small groups - three tests with five users is better than a single test with 15 users
- you will learn who your users are, what they want, and how best to get it to them
- you should use more than one, and make them simple
Focus Groups and User Surveys
- best to conduct early one, because they gather background information and overall opinions and desires
- sessions last 1-2 hours, and work best when combined with other methods
- put ideas on cards/post-its, and have users arrange them in a way that makes sense to them
- also helps correct terminology, because users need to understand the words on the cards
- sessions last 1-2 hours, can be done in groups or individually
Contextual Interviews and Intercepts
- based on observations of users in their environment
- ask questions, and be casual
- this is one of the best methods to use
- easy, disposable, adaptable, affordable
- allow your users to be creative
- create screenshots of various screens of your site for users to interact with
- easy to generate lots of ideas, because people are more willing to scrap ideas on paper than delete
- files they have worked on
March 23rd, 2011 Brian Herzog
Joe Murphy, Science Librarian, Coordinator of Instruction & Technology, Yale University
Chanitra Bishop, Instruction & Emerging Technologies Librarian, Indiana University
Jason Clark, Head, Digital Access & Web Services, Montana State University
Foursquare and Libraries - Chanitra Bishop
Location-based mobile apps use your device's GPS data to locate information about what is going on around you. The advantage is the potential for targeted marketing to users in a specific geographic location
Examples: Foursquare, Brightkite, Yelp, Gowalla, Google Places
People like them because they are fun, almost like games, and can earn points and badges for their activity.
Foursquare allows you to
- check in to different location
- create a to-do list for locations
- find out what frineds are doing
- learn about events, restaurants, etc in a location
Notes of caution: you are broadcasting where you are, so people could follow up, or know where you are not (ie, your house)
Foursquare and Libraries
Libraries can claim your location and/or add new locations
- give each feature of your library a location (cafe, DVD collection, reference desk, etc) to promote those services to people on Foursquare
- gives you the opportunity to run promotions
- engage with patrons, award the mayor
- use tips, descriptions, photos, and tags to share information
- update incorrect user-generated information
Where are You? Locations and Library Applications - Jason Clark
How does location matter for libraries?
Content isn't just enough anymore - now the context is also important (about 50% of Google searches have some geographic component). Neat mashup: Wildlife near you (plotting flickr photos on a map to show animals in your area)
- Mapping (give context in a snapshot)
- Check-in like Foursquare - Darien Library gives a totebag to patrons who check in
- Crowdsourcing geo information - maps.nypl.org allows people to overlay historical infomration on current city maps, and also allow people to correct errors
- Local interest apps - San Jose WolfWalk historical walking tour of campus
Getting Started - Tools
March 22nd, 2011 Brian Herzog
MODERATOR: Dick Kaser, VP Content, Information Today, Inc.
Leslie Lees, VP of Content Development, ebrary
Ken Breen, Director, eBook Products, EBSCO Publishing
Rick Rosy, VP & General Manager, Library Services, Ingram Content
Ebook publishers talk about the ebook models available from their companies - here are a few points I took away:
NetLibrary and EBSCO
- 1997 ebooks - came on a CD with a 100+ print user guide
- NetLibrary brand is going away
- Ebooks are available for preview on EBSCOhost
- 3 Users Models - Single User, Three User (Single User with lending), Unlimited
- Patron model will have lease model - lend books for 1, 7, 14, or 28 days at a time, with payment made for every time a lease is done
- EBSCO continues to listen and evolve
Ebrary and ProQuest
- Subscription model - 50,000+ backlist titles available, instant digital library, unlimited access
- Perpetual Access Archive - purchase and own many titles, many front-list titles, source through various vendors
- Patron-Driven Acquisition - reduce cost, save selector time, and ensure titles get used (patrons choose what library buys) - model similar to Netlibrary
- Short Term Loans - rent titles and mediate use (model similar to Netlibrary)
- Future holds that ILS' will eventually stop being inventory control software, and more access control to a variety of formats
MyiLibrary and Ingram
- Nashville is a nice place
- Use model single owner, multiple owner, and patron-driven acquisition
- Among large academic library, 43% have an ebook copy of the physical book they also own - shows ebooks and books coexist peacefully
- Focusing on how to keep access to information (ebooks) safe and available no matter what - especially with academic libraries
Overdrive ("and their relationship with the devil")
- There's been a lot of controversy lately, but the future of ebooks, and the current state of things, is extremely strong
- Overdrive sees itself as a library advocate - to fight for library rights and provide a marketplace in which all types of libraries have access to econtent
- Continually innovating - mobile apps already available for Apple products, soon coming to Blackberry, always updating Overdrive Media Console software, always adding new content (new titles and new publishers) to the library - it's all about providing options
- You will see more and more DRM-free books - there will be more self-publishing options
- Most Overdrive libraries are experiencing 600% circ growth - Jan-Apr 2011 will see more circs than total circs for 2010
- If you can, attend Digipalooza - this is the best opportunity to sit down with Overdrive and publishers and have your voice heard and your opinions known
Questions & Answers
- What's going on with DRM and ebooks? How does that mechanism work?
Overdrive: More DRM-free is coming. Copyright is set by the publishers, not Overdrive (OD advocates for libraries). Adobe is the main mechanism to make download, transfer, and file expiration possible
Ebrary: some publishers are more willing than others to loosen policies in some channels - we're pushing for more consistency across the board
Ingram: Most publishers require DRM, but some large consortium have been able to negotiate reduced-DRM or DRM-free options - this shows that money talks
- Could you please develop a standard so ebooks download to all devices easily?
Adobe isn't actually very good, it was just the first one. Overdrive is working on direct-download options, and Adobe is working to improve. Each ebook supplier having their own proprietary software is a problem, and difficult for libraries to get full support. Vendors usually do this because of the standards they are trying to meet. Overdrive has a front-line tech support in beta with NYPL(?), and will be available soon - hopefully by ALA.
- Do all of you work with the same publishers?
There is probably differences between Overdrive (which focuses on public libraries) and those vendors that focus on academic libraries
- Do you allow more than 10 pages to download/print before new charges?
It is growing - standard options seems to be about one page, one chapter, or any 60 pages
March 21st, 2011 Brian Herzog
Stacy Bruss & Nancy Allmang, Reference Librarians, NIST
To help publicize the library and our services, we decided to create podcasts and dynamic presentations.
Our first attempt was an audio podcast, with a voiceover reading a script using rotating images to provide a visual, saved in mpg4 format. Had trouble finding license-free music on a PC (Mac has Garageband, which has usage music installed). We used Sourceforge, but found that audio podcasts are okay, but people prefer video.
Next, we decided to go with video podcast.
We went with a video production company, but it ended up costing $5,000 and took 7 months. Plus, it didn't end up being a nice, short, informative podcasts - the production company ended up making it long, dry, and boring.
So NIST bought their own camera, microphone, and Macbook. They also built a camera dolly out of a bookcart so the picture was steady. NIST librarians took a free class at an Apple Store to find out how to do it, and then did it.
Tips for creating video podcasts
- it's easiest to do audio voiceovers later, so focus on filming video
- instersperse still images to make it interesting
- limit videos to about 1 minute
- save in two formats: .mov streaming, .mp4 for downloading
Creating Dynamic Presentations
PPTplex - plugin for powerpoint 2007/10 to allow "zooming presentations" - allows you to easily create moving and dynamic presentations, and repeat words and images without making it look like you're repeating yourself. Another tool for zooming presentations is Prezi.com
Ways to use digital presentations
- Use this to make static presentations dynamic
- Conference posters online - make them static and text-heavy, and people with interest will read them
- Digital display - LCD display uses graphics and colors and attracts more attention, so much better than an LED board
- Use video in new employee orientation - videos can show more than pictures or words can convey
Optimal length to display a slide is 7 seconds - that is how long it takes for someone to walk by the NIST display. Time yours so it flips during someone's walk-by, so they see that it changes.
NIST staff researched available displays, and chose one that would support PowerPoint, so staff didn't have to learn new proprietary software
Ideas for the future
Integrating looping video (showing a screencast on how to do something, because people understand how to follow a mouse, and don't require sound)
Marketing the same information using all your marketing channel - not every patron is exposed to every channel This allows you to repurpose your content.
You should also repeat marketing messages, because people forget
Another fun way to make video presentations is using Xtra Normal - all you do is type a script, and it creates the video for you - it's attention-grabbing because it's fun, and makes the information more noticeable (it's easy and fun)