or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Delicious Has A New Home

   May 3rd, 2011 Brian Herzog

Delicious+AVOSBig news - Delicious has been sold, and the new owners sound great.

This announcement came last week (along with an email to every Delicious user), but it hasn't made much of a splash. I've seen a few posts in the library world, but I am surprised* it hasn't been bigger news.

Press releases about the transition were released by both Delicious and the new owners, AVOS (the guys who founded of YouTube), and the future does sound promising: AVOS is apparently hiring staff, plans to work with the Delicious community, and intends to develop new features. Pretty significant for a product that hasn't changed in years.

Delicious users have until July 2011 to opt-in to transitioning to the new platform. I did it this weekend, and it's quick and easy - just log in, verify your details (and at least skim the new terms of service and privacy policy), and you're set.

Here's the message that displays when you begin the transition:

Delicious is moving to a new home

Yahoo! is excited to announce that Delicious has been acquired by the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. As creators of the largest online video platform, they have firsthand experience enabling millions of users to share their experiences with the world. Delicious will become part of their new Internet company, AVOS.

To continue using Delicious, you must agree to let Yahoo! transfer your bookmarks to AVOS.

Reasons to let Yahoo! transfer your bookmarks

As soon as you let Yahoo! move your Delicious account, you will:

  • Enjoy uninterrupted use of Delicious.
  • Keep your Delicious account and all your bookmarks.
  • Keep the same look and feel of Delicious as you have today, and enjoy future innovations for the product.

It's easy to have Yahoo! move your account to AVOS. When you do, you will be subject to the AVOS terms of service and privacy policy.

What happens if you do not move your bookmarks?

  • Delicious in its current form will be available until approximately July 2011.
  • After that, you will no longer be able to use your existing Delicious account and will not have access to your existing bookmarks or account information.

Learn more >>

I, for one, am happy about this announcement - yay for not having to rework the library's subject guides.

 


*This surprises me because, of all the online tools out there, Delicious seems tailor-made for librarians. Even discounting the social part, bookmarking sites like this are exactly what librarians have been striving to do since the internet was invented - catalog it. Delicious (and similar sites) not only lets us catalog websites how we see fit, but also allows the power of critical mass to categorize every website. It seems like library schools across the land should have an entire course dedicated to Delicious (and social bookmarking).



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Out With The Old, In With The New

   January 4th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Emptying the Reference AreaThis project has been underway at my library for the last month or two, and the beginning of a new year seems like a very appropriate time to mention it. We are in the process of removing our Reference shelves so we can repurpose the space.

This is a major project for us. It was brought about by two main factors:

  • The community primarily uses my library for popular materials and assistance with projects (homework, hobbies, etc) - hardly anyone does in-library research, so our Reference collection hardly every got used
  • Our patrons are constantly asking to reserve our (single) quiet study room, and we often had more requests for it than we could accommodate

So, we came up with a plan to build three new 8' x 8' study rooms. Big enough for one or two people, but small enough that we could fit more than one into the available space.

To make space for them, we developed a new approach (for us) to our Reference collection. For the last month or so, I've been weeding with these new criteria:

  • Anything that seemed like a reference book and could be easily photocopied - World Book and Encyclopedia Britannica, Farmer's Almanac, Statistical Abstract of the United States - remained "Reference" and will be shelved close to the Reference Desk (more on shelving in a minute)
  • Anything that seemed like a reference book but required more reading is being recataloged with a new "7 Day Loan" designation. These books will circulate for only 7 days (instead of our regular 3 week loan for books), but cannot be renewed or requested by other libraries. The goal here is to make the books more useful to people by letting patrons take them home when needed, but make the circulation rules such that the books will also get back on the shelves quickly and so be available when other patrons or staff need them. Also, very importantly, these will be interfiled on our regular non-fiction shelves, so all information on a subject will be same place*
  • Anything that wasn't pure reference, and didn't seem like something someone would need to lay their hands on immediately, was recataloged as regular circulating non-fiction. There were far more of these than the 7 Day Loan books, which I thought was a good thing
  • Everything else got weeded. I've been wanting to do this for the last few years, so have been slowly deemphasizing the Reference Collection by putting new books as they came in into our circulating collection. As a result, quite a few Reference books could be deleted because we already had newer editions in the circulating collection. Others got deleted because it was a duplicate copy, we had lots of other material on the subject, we had better resources available online, or it was simply outdated (I've been ordering new items as updates). Another criteria was the good old "dust test" - if blowing on the book produced a plume of dust, I took that as a sign that it was not used, and only kept it if I felt it was absolutely vital. This process illustrated how bad of a job I did with regularly weeding the Reference Collection, because we had lots of shelf space to keep things

My goal for this project, in addition to providing study space that our community is demanding, is to increase the usefulness of our entire collection by letting patrons use it the way they want to - at home. Also, by interfiling all of our material, hopefully the "reference" books will get a new lease on life, as many patrons previously couldn't even be enticed into the Reference area - more than once I handed a patron a reference book open to the page that answered their question, but since they couldn't take it home they wouldn't even look at it.

Of course, there have been problems, too. Most notably, we don't have the space on our non-fiction shelves to absorb all of the Reference books we're shifting down there. This prompted major weeding of the circulating collection (which, again, was probably overdue).

Another solution was to pull out discreet subjects and reshelve them elsewhere in the library. The study rooms we're building won't take up all of the floor space in the Reference area, so we're putting in three new index tables and using them as "subject tables." These subjects will be auto repair (629.287), career (331.702 and 650.14), genealogy (929, plus a few other hand-chosen items), and maps (mostly our oversized atlases, but also geography reference like the Columbia Gazetteer). All of the general encyclopedias and other books that are remaining true Reference items will also be on one of these tables.

Another issue has been peoples' concern about how many books we're getting rid of. It certainly has been a lot, and I understand why it might shock some people. But I'm evaluating the entire collection almost on a book-by-book basis, so I have a reason for every decision I made. Like I said above, usually it's because the book is out-of-date or we have enough complimentary materials and don't have room for everything. Again though, if I had been weeding properly all along, it wouldn't be such a monumental task right now.

We're still in the process of weeding, recataloging, and shifting. Construction of the new rooms is suppose to start next week, and everything should be finished by the end of the month. Transition periods are always difficult, but I think once things are finished our collection will be much better and more useful.

Something else that makes me happy is that all of these changes were driven by patron behavior. I'm glad that we can adapt to the changing needs our our community.

 


*Damn you, Oversized Books - you are the bane of my existence. Sadly, much of our recataloged Reference collection is ending up on our Oversized shelves, but that is a project for a later date.



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