Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Presentation Notes: Two on online tools for librarians

Yes, I am still playing some catch up, but I am also thinking some things over. This time I have Evanescence's "Haunted" on Pandora, which actually goes nicely with my mood, but let's get to it. In his presentation for the HigherEdBlogCon, "Blogs, Wikis and IM: Communication Tools for Subject Specialists," Chad Boeninger suggests that "instant messaging, blogs, and wikis can help to make the subject librarian's job easier and more effective as these technologies allow for increased communication with the academic community." Mr. Boeninger is a business subject specialist. He describes his setting and the business curriculum, which tends towards group work. Actually, this is similar to some of our business classes. He started his Business Blog as a way to answer recurring questions from his classes. He describes some of the blog's contents as follows:

The content of the Business Blog posts has ranged from general business research tips, such as how to find a SWOT analysis, to more specific topics such as finding information about the popcorn industry. I’ve even used the Business Blog to tell faculty and students about new databases and resources, as well as alert them to upcoming library events. Regardless of the content, the intent of each post is to teach and recommend the best resources for a project, not to simply provide an answer to a question.
The blog has proven successful overall given usage and the fact that other librarians have gone to create their own subject blogs.

Mr. Boeninger goes on to describe his use of instant messaging (IM). He, in essence, has made himself available to students by offering his personal IM screen names for students to contact him. I have done the same for my classes starting last spring. While I have not logged any transactions on IM yet, I do like the idea of offering another option. I can leave the IM running in the background while I work, so it's not intrusive. Unlike Mr. Boeninger, my screen names are not on my contact information on library web pages. I just advertise them in my classes along with other information like my e-mail. If I make that trading card I was thinking about for students, I would probably put my IM screen names in it. I do get a good number of e-mail reference transactions, and that works out well for me.

Next, Mr. Boeninger describes how he began experimenting with wikis for library guides' maintenance, and this led to the creation of the BizWiki, which is described as "a collection of business information resources available through Ohio University Libraries. It is designed to assist business researchers in finding the best resources for their projects or topics." Advantages of the wiki include the ability to search by keyword and the ability to assign categories to articles in the wiki. Cross-referencing can be greatly enhanced as well. There are other advantages to using a wiki discussed in the presentation.

Overall, this presentation shows how a combination of online tools can enhance communications with the academic community.

I also went over Rebecca Hedreen's presentation "An Online Research Toolkit--Exploring Web 2.0 for Library Research." This presentation has things for librarians, but it is also useful for students. The presentation's opening lines were interesting to me as I have often wondered about finding stuff I found once online at a later time. I started a account to supposedly
solve that, but I find that I don't really use it consistently. Sure, I have a bunch of bookmarks in one place, but one problem for is that I like having different sets of bookmarks. For instance, there are items that are related to work. Then there are other more recreational things I want to keep separate. Maybe I need a different account for those, or a different tool. I am aware of some tools to synchronize bookmarks from one computer to another, but I don't necessarily want the stuff I have at home mixed with the stuff I have at work. Something for me to think over.

The presentation begins with a small video introduction using YouTube, which is an interesting way to "walk the talk." She highlights her Online Research Toolkit, which provides reviews on various 2.0 tools. The presentation then moves on to various slides highlighting specific tools and application, using a blog to hold it all together. The presentation is well-organized, and it is the type of content that students may find useful for their research. I think some things may work on our setting. The set up with ODEO and Blogger looks like something I may be able to put to use, maybe for instructional purposes? Just a thought at this point.

The presentation also points out some of the disadvantages in the use of 2.0 tools, something I think some of the evangelists in their zeal tend to forget, such as loss of access or change in a company's ownership. Overall, remember that anything you put in these tools is public, even if you use the privacy options, so don't put anything sensitive on them.

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