I'm a member of the IT section of the New England Library Association, and we're holding a workshop on popular CMS software. If you're thinking about redesigning or updating your website, or would are just curious about what CMS' are and what they can do, then this workshop is for you.
CMS Day! Build a better website with Content Management Systems: Drupal, Joomla, Plone, & WordPress
Keynote by Jessamyn West
Date: Friday, June 12, 2009
Location: Portsmouth Public Library, Portsmouth, NH (directions)
Cost: NELA members - $50; Non-members - $60 Registration Fee includes lunch & a NELA USB hub!
10:00 a.m. - Registration & Coffee & Library Tours
10:30 a.m. - Keynote: CMS options - Jessamyn West
12 noon - Lunch (provided!) and Library Tours
12:45 p.m. - Librarians share their real-life CMS experiences:
--Drupal - Darien (CT) PL (darienlibrary.org) & Paige Eaton Davis, Minuteman Network
--Joomla - Randy Robertshaw, Tyngsborough PL (tynglib.org)
--Plone - Rick Levine & CMRLS Librarians
--WordPress - Theresa Maturevich, Beverly (MA) PL (beverlypubliclibrary.org)
3:30 p.m. -Wrap-Up!
Keynote by Jessamyn West
Jessamyn West is a community technology librarian. She lives in rural Vermont where assists tiny libraries with their technology planning and implementation. Her favorite color is orange. Jessamyn maintains an online presence at: librarian.net and jessamyn.info
NELA Program Refund Policy: A full refund shall be granted provided that the registered attendee has contacted the authorized representative of ITS responsible for taking registrations, at least ten (10) business days in advance of the program. In the event that notice is given less than ten days, a refund is not granted, however, they may send a substitute to the program.
For more information, please contact Scott Kehoe at 978-762-4433 x16 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter has been around for a long time, so all the press it has gotten recently surprised me. Personally, I never really had much interest in it, so I just more or less ignored it.
Until a few months ago, that is, when I found a way to use it for the library.
The snowfall and storms this winter seemed particularly bad, and we had quite a few early closings or delayed openings. Whenever this happens, one of the ways we get the message out is to announce the change in hours prominently on our homepage.
However, it's the library director who makes the decision to close the library, but she had no easy way to update the homepage from home. She hasn't coded in html for years, and installing an editor and ftp program - and then her having to remember how to do everything - seemed like an unnecessary barrier. So, she asked me to find an easier way for her to update the homepage.
Ah-ha, I thought - I know libraries are displaying their Twitter feeds on their homepage, so why can't we?
I signed up for a Twitter account, learned how to customize the feed display, and added it to the library's homepage. I set the feed to only display one message, and after some trial and error figured out how to send a blank message (use the html code ). That way, after the storm passes, we could send a blank message to remove the announcement from the homepage.
Then, to make it as easy as possible for my director to update from home, I also created a Twittermail account. Using Twittermail, all she needs to do is send an email message to our account, and whatever she types into the subject line with then display on our website (centered on the very top of the page). Neat.
When I demo'ed it for her, it worked like a charm, and she was very happy. But of course, we haven't had a snowstorm since.
And see, that's the problem - I created this Twitter feed for a very specific purpose, and we haven't had much of a need for it yet. However, since I created it, seven people have started following the library on Twitter.
We don't promote it, so how'd they find it? They must have gone looking. If our patrons are expecting us to be on Twitter, and voluntarily pay attention to us, doesn't it make sense that this is a tool we should be using? To me, it does.
So, in addition to storm closings, I've lately been trying to think of other "announcements" that deserve top billing on the library's homepage - just so I don't feel guilty about these Twitter followers not getting their library tweets.
This is very much a case of "if you build it, they will come." Now I need to live up to the implied second half of that saying, "when they come, make sure it's worth their while."
The internet is endlessly innovative and entertaining. My current favorite phenomena is Single Serving Sites - websites that do only one thing.
In stark contrast to the "be everything to everyone" mentality, these one-off'ers are kind of refreshing. Most of them can't even be called "websites," because they consist of only one web page - but, for a fraction of a minute, they serve a purpose. Here's a list of my favorites:
Here are a couple reading suggestions website I came across recently that I liked:
The first is TheBookCalendar.com, which is simply a book-a-day online calendar. It shows the cover, a description (and sometimes author video), includes an Amazon link, and also has email and rss options. via lisnews.org
The second one might not be all that new, but I just learn about it a few weeks ago. ReadingTrails.com and provides a reading suggestions by linking related books into a chain.
Sound odd? I first heard of this form of readers advisory during an RA workshop in the SLIS program at Kent State University. The idea behind it is to identify one theme from the book that the reader likes, then find another book that contains the same theme. Next, pick something from that second book the reader likes and, based on that second criteria, link it to a third book that has that criteria, and on and on and on in a long chain of connected books.
An example: for someone who liked the magical aspect of the Narnia books, you might suggest they read Harry Potter. Then, since the Harry Potter series is based in England, you could link it to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
Sort of like a six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but for books. It's a neat idea, but tough to do mentally - which is why it's a perfect task for a database. Or, in this case, "an innovative new social network for book lovers." They say:
Reading Trails is a wonderful way to discover books to read, meet new people, and most importantly, to share your reading experiences with friends by creating trails. In particular, Reading Trails is a great tool for book clubs....
Because a book can appear on more than one trail, trails intersect. The result is a network of trails that can be browsed to find unexpected reading pleasures.
I checked out the site, and it seemed typical of new and innovative ideas - it's a great idea, and I got some useful information from it, but the site doesn't always work the way I expect.
It can be used without signing into an account, which is good. And you can search for books or themes, and from there scroll up and down the "reading trail" of that book to find other reading suggestions. Great.
Other good things:
Fairly easy to use, and the trails are visual and useful and pretty cool
Lets people write reviews of the books
Provides links to Amazon to buy the book and WorldCat to find the book at a library
Provides widget code to embed into your website, like this:
A few technical glitches I noticed:
On the search results page, each book had a little checkbox next to it, and I couldn't figure out what that was for
Each book also had an odd little box under it, which only becomes useful when you are logged in (if it's not useful, it shouldn't be shown)
For the searches I ran, the bottom of the screen would say something like "Viewing 1-7 of 7 matches" and yet there would be twelve books displayed. None of the searches I performed displayed a number of books that matched what was listed on the bottom of the page
Some of the trail themes I searched for did not exist (Vietnam, Iraq, poverty, aliens) but most others did
There doesn't seem to be a way to view details of any book - just see where it falls in various trails
They don't seem to explain why books are linked in a chain - I'd be curious to see what theme connects them
Most of these cons are probably due to the newness of the website, and will likely be improved as the site grows.
I don't think I'll use these much on a personal level (unlike LibraryThing), but I will keep both in mind for readers advisory at the reference desk.
Most of the talk about ALA's new website redesign has died down, but I noticed something this week I want to comment on.
On the whole, I think the new site is a vast improvement over the old one. And with any new site, I understand they're still shaking out the bugs, and dealing with lots of dead links.
But: for my previous post, I wanted to find information from the ALA about library activity rising in time of economic trouble. A search on Google linked to something sounding exactly like what I was looking for on the ALA site. However, the link was broken.
By searching the ALA site itself for the title displayed in the Google results, I ultimately found the article's new location. Which is fine, but I have to say I am disappointed with the new website's 404 page.
When the 404 "Page Not Found" page loads, the most dominate thing on the page is the search box right in the center. So of course I clicked on this to search for the page I wanted. But - surprise - it's not a functioning search box. It's just an image of what the search box at the top of the page looks like. Of course the text above this image tells you to use the one at the top, but who reads? I don't - especially when a dominate image draws my attention away from the text.
So ALA, how about making the search box in the center a functioning search box, instead of just teasing us? It would add utility to the page, and make the 404 page incrementally just that much more user-friendly.
But otherwise, I think this is a pretty good 404 page, as far as they go. It customized and nice-looking, and gives some tips for finding what you're looking for. It also includes an email address to contact a person for help, which is great. I think I only noticed this because I talked about library website 404 pages before, and gave my library a fancy-pants 404 page.
I don't understand why it doesn't show up all the time, but maybe that's in the works, too.
My Library subscribes to a lot of periodicals, but the one I always make a point of checking out each month is CQ Researcher. For professional reasons, I know I should keep an eye on current topics in as many of our periodicals and resources as possible, but CQ Researcher is usually interesting beyond professional reasons.
I like the format, too - the entire slim issue is devoted to a single topic. The most recent issue, August 1st, was devoted to Internet Accuracy.
The section I found particular interesting, titled "How to Evaluate Blogs and Online Information Source," can serve a good checklist for anyone doing internet research. I wish I could reproduce the whole thing, but here's me paraphrasing:
Look closely at the URL - the domain name can sometimes tell a lot of about the nature of the website
Locate the main website - try deleting everything that comes after the domain suffix (the .com or .edu, etc) and see what the rest of the site is like
Can a real person be contacted? - if there isn't an "about me" page or way to contact the author, there's reason to be suspicious
Are there additional links? - reliable websites usually link to additional resources, or at least other pages within that site
Are there misspellings and typos? - lots of grammatical errors can indicate untrustworthiness, because little errors often coincide with big errors
How long has the blogger been at it? - reliable bloggers usually indicate how long they've been writing, and as with anything, bloggers get better over time
How many topics does the blog cover? - if the blog has too many categories, then this person is certainly not an expert
What is the blog's format? - websites that use the default look or theme may indicate that not much effort has been put into the project, whereas a personal brand shows the blogger cares enough to establish an image
I like this list so much that I'm going to co-op it into a post for my Library's blog - and maybe a bookmark.
The rest of the issue is good, too. The major article talks about the reliability and use of websites like Wikipedia, traditional news outlets, blogs, and what turns up in search engines. There are also sections on where people go for answers (58% go to the internet, 45% to friends and family, 13% to the library), where the most well-informed people get their information (with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report out ranking every other source), and a bibliography, position papers on current topics, and more.
All in all, definitely an issue worth reading. Sadly, their website does not allow open and free access, but check for it at your local library.