How can libraries use web based tools to market their services, educate their patrons, and provide value added services? Amy Watts Robin Fay Presentation online at: http://fay.myweb.uga.edu/projects/blogs/como.ppt
News & Events • Blog : A Wordpress blog • RSS feeds via the blog Web forms in the Libraries Catalog (GIL) • Report and Error and other web based forms Web Presences for internal & external customers • Departmental pages & procedures manuals OVERVIEW
Briefly about blogs What is a blog ? Briefly, a blog (short for weblog) is a web based publication which is updated in a periodic manner. The goal of blogging is to provide an easy means to put content on the web. Most modern blogging software functions very similar to word processor software. When you see this icon (think of satellite transmission beams), you know you are seeing a live site which is updating via a feed.
Briefly about blogs …and why would a library want one? Libraries use blogs to promote events & services, provide access to up-to-date information about building issues (special hours, etc.), highlight new databases, and communicate a variety of information from readings to exhibits to new features in the catalog! Users can subscribe to ‘feeds’ via their phones, pdas, special web based reader services, as well as internet browsers and e-mail programs such as Firefox and Thunderbird to get the latest up to date information.
Briefly about blogs Chart permission of blogswithoutalibrary.net
Beginnings of The Libraries “Blog” UGA Libraries WAG (Web Advisory Group) which works with the Web Editor in oversight and maintenance of the UGA Libraries webpage, charged a subcommittee to investigate blog software as means of keeping our users up to date on Libraries news & events. Not only did we want to add some dynamic content to our website, but we needed another means to push information to our users.
Beginnings of The “Blog” This subcommittee investigated many different blog softwares including • Blogger (Free, Commercial, with ads) • Expression Engine/PMachine (Paid, Commercial) • Movable Type (Paid, Commercial) • WordPress (Free, Open Source)
Desired features • Nos • Contracts/subscriptions • Preferably ad free • Coding experience or considerable training needed for contributors • Yes • Inexpensive • Easy to use • Categories • Multiple users with levels • Easily configured, support for CSS
Blogger • Cons • Ad oriented • No categories • No control over URL address • Limited ability to customize display • Pros • Free • No installation • Easy to use, one push publishing
Blogger examples • Who is using it (a brief sampling) • Google Blog • http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/08/finding-wealth-in-your-library-and.html • Georgia Perimeter College at Decatur • http://gpcdecaturlrc.blogspot.com/ • Marion County Free Library • http://www.marincountyfreelibrary.blogspot.com/
Expression Engine/PMachine • Pros • Very professional • Good Tech support • Categories & subcategories • Support multiple users with varying degrees of authority • Easily supports a blog within a blog • Cons • Expensive • Contract based • PHP database installation needed, Server
PMachine/Expression Engine • Who is using it (a brief sampling) • Lannom Public Library • http://www.lannom.org/ • Douglas County Libraries • http://www.douglascountylibraries.org/blogs/
Movable Type/Typepad • Cons • Expensive • Contract based • PHP database installation needed, Server • Pros • Very professional • Good Tech support • Categories & subcategories • Support multiple users with varying degrees of authority • Support multiple blogs
Movable Type/Typepad • Who is using it (a brief sampling) • University of Colorado, Bookends • http://library.coloradocollege.edu/bookends/ • Washington University in St. Louis • http://wulibraries.typepad.com/ • University of Minnesota (U Think) • http://blog.lib.umn.edu/
Movable Type Example Movable Type/Typepad Movable Type Example
WordPress • Pros • Categories & subcategories including separate pages (mini blog eseque) • Support multiple users with varying degrees of authority • CSS based and easy to customize • Open Source & “free” • Cons • Tech support mostly nonexistent but relies heavily on user forums • Multiple blogs are available as separate installations although pages can provide some customization and organization • PHP database installation, Server • Open Source & “free”
WordPress • Who is using it • ACRL • http://www.acrlblog.org/ • Auburn University Library • http://www.lib.auburn.edu/whatsnew/ • University of Alberta Libraries • http://blogs.library.ualberta.ca/libnews/
Wordpress Example Movable Type Example Movable Type/Typepad Movable Type Example
Just to recap. Desired features • Yes • Inexpensive • Easy to use • Categories • Multiple users with levels • Easily configured, support for CSS • Nos • Contracts/subscriptions • Preferably ad free • Coding experience or considerable training needed for contributors
And the winner is WordPress! • WordPress fit our most basic criteria, and in July 2005, the UGA Libraries went live with our first blog. • 25 Blog Reporters • including a representative from every department • a collective average of a post a day • Design • Keep the look of the main site through coding CSS • No open comments box but a • Link to a web editor mailbox. Of the 3000+ comments we have received in the last 6 months, 99% of them are spam (we’ve received 1 legitimate comment).
And the winner is WordPress! Go Live
So, let’s check it out! Behind the scenes…. Write here Schedule news to post… News from WordPress, especially UPGRADES! Go Live
So, let’s check it out! Behind the scenes…. Writing a post. The title corresponds to the headline on the main page and is also what displays in RSS readers. Note: We also have pre-selected categories for our writers to chose. Go Live
The title corresponds to the headline on the main page and is also what displays in rss readers. Note we also have re-selected categories for our writers to chose. and more stuff…. Which all ends up in the blog. Go Live
Title And the winner is WordPress! Categories Go Live
RSS feeds • So what is a feed? • RSS stands for (depending on who you ask) • Really Simple Syndication • Rich Site Summary • Basically, websites collect their stories and ‘send’ them out to various readers • A reader is a software that allows a user to view (and sometimes hear or see) headlines, summaries, complete stories, etc. • Examples of ‘readers’ include Firefox (live bookmarks), bloglines, newsgator, pluck, etc. • Think of RSS as the newspaper or the morning news you listen to. Each day is fresh, and the content is available to you. All you have to do is open the gateway (a newspaper, the tv, computer, radio, etc.)
In firefox, the rss feed will display as an orange icon in the address bar. To pick up a feed, click on the little orange icon. Go Live
RSS feeds By subscribing, you will receive the latest headlines linked from your bookmark.
RSS feeds: how to read http://www.newsgator.com/home.aspx Bloglines is a website to login to read news; Newsgator integrates with outlook; Thunderbird has built in capability
So, you’ve got your blog all set up… now what? • First, it starts with the participants aka writers. • You need at least one person who is willing to write regularly. • You may or may not need ground rules and writing/style guides (we did!). • You may or may not need to do training sessions (we did). • An editor of sorts is also necessary.
Contributors • Bringing in Contributors: • Make them stakeholders. Emphasize that almost every department is doing something interesting or has something important to say to your patrons. They don’t want to be left out! • And once one department starts posting frequently, the fun really begins … they can’t help but be competitive.
Training • Give them hands-on training and back it up with accessible training materials. We did a handout and put the same contents of the handout online. (www.libs.uga.edu/blogetc/) • Also be sure to give them a human they can contact with questions/problems.
Marketing • “Look what we’ve got” • Events/programs/exhibits – events can have home page exposure and can also be archived, when they rotate off the home page • Collections – Again, highly visible announcement of acquisitions and addition to the archive • Electronic Resources – Avoid new databases getting buried in GALILEO. Highlight digital collections.
Additional Challenges • What should the blog look like? Does it need to maintain the look of other pages already on the site, or should it be distinctive? • How much real estate on the main page? And where will it be? • We have the happy problem now of so many posts that people want to see more headlines on the front page! • Making sure your blog doesn’t die – needs continuous care and feeding.
Next steps and challenges • Most pressing, is to identify a better means of collecting statistics. There are plug-ins for WordPress statistics, which we are currently testing and evaluating. Out of the box, WordPress has very poor statistics collection. The Libraries website statistical information, while does not seem to be as good at tracking in-depth blog statistics. • Testing pages to provide a more unique blog experience for special collections. • A better workflow for doing upgrades. As WordPress is Open Source there is no one official tech support and no notice of new upgrades. However, there is a mailing list for notification.
Moving on to other tools • Possibly not as exciting as blogging, but a ‘classic’ in terms of communication via the web • HTML web forms (such as contact forms) are used in a variety of places including • within the Libraries catalog, GIL • on departmental and service related webpages • Examples include Ask a Question via email, Report an Error (in the catalog), suggest a purchase, request a classroom session, request software training, and collecting internal statistics
Other uses of web tools • In 2005, 321 errors/questions were reported by Libraries staff & faculty, UGA faculty & students, and visitors. • Not only has the form provided an easy way for Library staff to communicate with each other (much of the information is captured automatically from the screen) but it provides a quick means of identifying problems in the catalog… • among them….
Other uses of web tools • Some errors/questions reported • No error. I just want to know what “discharged” means. Is the book on the shelf or not? – a patron • There is a typo in one of the subject heading dates – should not be 1957. – a patron • Do we really have 2 copies of this and is one still in the In process collection? Or do we really only 1 copy and the Inprocess one should be merged? Or do we have 2 copies and the In Process once should be made copy 2? – library staff
Other uses of web tools • Other examples of web based forms linked to the Libraries’ catalog • Request a book from the Repository: While in the Libraries’ catalog, GIL, if you want a book which is located at the offsite storage facility (Repository), you can request it from a form in the catalog. • Rush Catalog: Request a newly acquired material which is still in the queue
Other uses of web tools • Other examples of web tools include • Coldfusion: Database software which drives the Libraries’ Staff Directory, EndNote instructional materials, Reference instructional materials, and others in progress • Instant Messaging: Used by Reference