Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tiny Tech -- Jessamyn West

Tiny Tech: How to use Technology Sensibly in Small Libraries

[Follow the link for the visuals from the talk]

Tech for small libraries can be as much about attitude as it is about the technology, or the lack thereof.

What is the real problem? Is it the tech or the attitude of librarians towards the tech?

"We're not good with computers." People have this perception that because they can do it, it's got to be easy. If they can't do it, it must be hard. No, it's really that computers make you nervous.

"IM shows you your friends can't spell.
Blogs show you that your friends are dull."

It's not about knowing everything about computers -- it's about a reckless amount of confidence and about knowing how to use the "help" function.

Search for the error message in Google/Ask/Yahoo and I'm sure you'll find the answer.

Question boards translate well into an online format.

Search for these blog posts:
"2.0 No-brainers for public libraries"
"No-tech 2.0 no-brainers for public libraries"

Offer a map -- look at your library with new (2.0) eyes.

The library is not just the walls that make up the library. The interactivity of web-tools makes

Email got destroyed for kids -- too slow, too spammy -- but still used by your patrons over 30. So have it and use it.

Choose your people to go with your tools. [Jenn sez: you don't need to have every librarian doing everything; play to individuals' strengths and interests]

Have umbrella/generic email address that can be redirected to individuals, and changed as needed. Use bounce-back messages to thank them for using your services and give them any additional information that may be useful.

Teach classes on getting and using email. A simple class, nothing fancy, the things you can do without thinking. This helps people want to go back to their library and makes them feel like they can learn new things at their comfort level.

Instant messaging (IM)
  • IM is useful to talk to the 'kids' but also by increasing number of adults. [Jenn sez: my mom (age 60) uses AIM to talk to my baby sister and me]
  • (BPL was used as an example of the problem of using 24/7 Reference and having non-local people answering local questions)
  • (web-based IM client) and (allows you to place a Meebo box on your website)

Blogs, wikis, RSS -- "It's a box; you can type in it."
Blogs -- rotating content, regular doses of links, commentary and discussion
-- use it to have an easily-adaptable/changeable section on the front page of your website. Allows for a higher level of interactivity with your patrons.
RSS -- read more blogs, faster
Wikis -- online tools for collaboration whatever, editable by anyone [data]
-- stick your town's homepage URL in your town's entry in Wikipedia
-- use it for in-house or public use

Social Software: the new hotness
  • A less dorky way to network, no matter what your age is.
  • MySpace (all ages, really), LinkedIn (business networking, good for consultants), LiveJournal, Facebook, Friendster, Flickr, etc.
  • All of these places give you an opportunity to interact with people (your users/patrons) as people.

Other People's Projects -- Open Source software
Free and redistributable
You can get support for some systems, but not others.
Karen Schneider says, "Open source is free like kittens." You'll always have to spend $$$, but you don't have to just be sending money to some company somewhere.
Use Ubuntu (free OS), OpenDocs (free document software), Firefox (free browser) and other free software to provide service to your users.

Mashups and open APIs
Application Programming Interface (API) allow folks who know how to code to create new web tools using already existing tools.
Use something like Google Maps to show where your library locations are, embed that in your library web page.
Every picture on Wikipedia is copyright free to use as you will.

Connect people
Libraries can provide free wifi for a small cost every year

You're not going to get the true technophobes to love technology – don't try to force him to. Match skills/interests to job requests.
The low-end options aren't going to put you out in the cold. They might save you money that you can spend on other things (like books and candy!)

1 comment:

Denise said...

Tiny Tech was a great overview of all computer terms that some of us just don't understand. Jessamyn expained what all that stuff really means. She basically translated, and compared internet stuff (ie. RSS, Wiki, social networking sites, open source, and API's...) into terms that a non-tech person could understand. She also has a great sense of humor and made learning about a lot of information fun!