Friday, August 14, 2009
Overall, I am glad that I completed this project. It gave me the oppurtunity (ok, it forced me) to learn about these new applications. Though I am not convinced that all of them are feasible or practical in a library setting, they do play a role in helping us understand our users. And some of them are absolutely useful for what we do. I think collaborative tools like Google Docs and Wikis are the future of academia and thus essential to academic librarians. Podcasts and RSS feeds have obvious benefits for libraries. I think YouTube is now part of our culture and should be utilized as a tool. I think tagging is here to stay as well despite how uncomfortable it makes some librarians. Some of these applications will probably go the way of the dodo (like Twitter I hope) but many will continue to alter the way people interact with and respond to information. In other words, the information world that is our profession has quintessentially changed. We have to keep up.
Since we work mostly with college age students at my library, I think it is incredibly important for us to keep up with these new web applications. Only one other person at my library did this project and most of our librarians have worked here for many years (in other words, they are middle aged or so). Thus, I think many of our librarians would benefit from learning about these new applications. Our Reference librarian has the most one on one contact with students and she is pretty up on Web 2.0, so that's good. I would like our other librarians to at least play around with some of the major applications. Specifically, I think Facebook, Flickr, Delicious, and YouTube are important for understanding students' needs. I think most of them would enjoy Library Thing and LibWorm. I think that Google Docs, Wikis, and podcasts are going to become increasingly relevant to academia. Some of the other applications like Ning and Twitter are not quite so important in my opinion.
I watched some of the podcasts from other libraries and thought they did a really good job. For our patrons (college students), I think podcasts of how to locate books and articles, how to use the databases, and maybe a tour would be most useful. Public libraries probably have a bit more leeway in terms of making purely entertaining podcasts but I don't know if that would fly at a university library. You know, academia and all that. Podcasts of lectures, either by visiting lecturers or faculty, would also be cool to include somewhere on the library webpage. I'm not quite sure of the departmental politics of that, however. Podcasts, like Wikis and Google Docs, seem to me to have some very practical applications for libraries.
Of course, like everyone else, I have perused funny videos on YouTube (sneezing panda anyone?) and even a few heartwarming ones (hugging guy). I hadn't really thought about YouTube could be used in libraries until just now though. I typed in "texas libraries" and got more hits than I was expecting. Apparently, UT Austin has videos about finding books and articles in their library. I think that's pretty smart actually. The college students who need this information certainly use YouTube. While I'm not sure that all of the Web 2.0 applications we've discussed will stand the test of time, YouTube seems to be here to stay. It is also incredibly popular with young people. Thus, I think libraries should find ways to utilize this application, both in terms of outreach and instruction.
I just tried Google Docs for the first time. I rambled off a response to an article I read in New York Times magazine about how many people no longer prepare their own food. This is a fascinating subject to me because I love to cook and I'm frightened of preservatives. Then, I emailed it to myself. I am still waiting to hear back. This is another really practical application, not just for libraries but for most fields. It allows people to exchange information and collaborate on projects even if they are geographically remote from one another. I did a short Word document and a small spreadsheet (a budget for an upcoming trip). The word document was very similar to Word. The spreadsheet was a little more simplistic than Excel--a little more utilitarian. My husband is an accountant, though, and I'm not sure he would like. He relies heavily on Excel and thus needs a bit more sophistication than I do. Overall, however, I like this application and think it is really practical.
I just completed my portion of the Wiki. I added three pages (Research Interests, Yoga, and Books I Love) in addition to my main page. Wikis are one application that I think will be really vital to academia. Since I want to stay in academic libraries, I am honestly glad that participating in 23 Things forced me to play around with a Wiki. I had never created one (only visited them) and I think this knowledge will be essential. It was also really easy adding to the Wiki. I can think of lots of uses for this application in both public and academic libraries.
I played around on Libworm and see how it could be useful to librarians and library science students. I'm not sure anyone else would be interested but maybe that's okay. As information specialists, we need to keep up to date with the news and events that affect our discipline. When I typed in the name of my library, most of the hits were related to the Law School library, not the historical campus where I work. A new director was recently named there and that was the first and second hit. Other than that, we were mostly mentioned when all of the surrounding university libraries were discussed. In other words, we are not exactly news making. But, again, that's just fine.