Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Technical Services Annual Meeting with David Lee King: Mashups - Mixing It Up

Good morning everyone.  Day two of this year's conference is starting off with an excellent breakfast put on by the Technical Services Section, drawing a decent sized crowd of early arrivals.

Outgoing section chair Cecile Bianco kicked things off by voting in the new slate of officers:

Chair: Jennifer Forgit, Pembroke Public Library
Vice Chair/Chair Elect: Alyssa Freden, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts
Secretary: Heather Stone, New England College of Optometry
Member-at-Large (term expires June 2010): Jeremy Goldstein, Berkshire Athenaeum (W00t!)
Member-at-Large (Term expires June 2011): Demaris Chapin-Berner, University of Massachusetts Darmouth
Membership Chair: Lois Bacon, EBSCO
Past Chair: Cecile Bianco, UMASS: Worcestor

The slate was voted in unanimously, at which point Jennifer Forgit took the podium to introduce the newly created TSS Wiki.  Anyone who would like to participate in the wiki should contact Jennifer

That ends the meeting portion of the section and now it's on to David Lee King's discussion of mash-ups.

Mash-ups are whenever you combine two different things.  We are all familiar with non-technical mash-ups, some examples given are sporks, s'mores, and of course the duck-billed platypus.

The basic idea of such mash-ups have been embraced by the technical community, creating plenty of opportunities.  One common way of producing these is via api's (application
 programing interfaces) which allow developers to have access to some of the code of sites such as twitter and flickr, and then build off of that.

A simpler method of creating such a mash-up is embedding, simply taking a piece from one site and placing it on another.  Many sites such, most prominently YouTube, make this a very easy prospect.  Widgets are a similar method of embedding information from various sites, often via a chunk of java script provided by the site the material in question originated from.  David's site contains examples of widgets from Flickr, YouTube, and LibraryThing.

On YouTube, one creative auteur (whose name starts with a K, but which David can't remember) has created a song by combing various videos available through the service.

Many sites have utilized google maps to create such things as weather maps, real estate maps, and geospacial information for Flickr photos.

The popular service Twitter has also produced a large number of mash-ups.  Portwiture for example will search Flickr for photos the can illustrate the contents of your posts.  You can also create widgets that will display posts on specific topics (i.e. all that are tagged #masslib09).

David's library, the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, has used many such mash-ups to enhance their website.  Thus they are able to share their presences on Facebook, MySpace, Second Life, YouTube, Flickr and other services, and use these to connect with many patrons they wouldn't otherwise interact with.  Their site also uses various mash-ups to add Easter-Eggs to their site, such as a graphic tied to a weather report, enhancing user experiences by ensuring each visit will offer a new experience.

The Topeka library also has an intranet site solely for staff use, which connects staff twitter and blog accounts.

Some other libraries doing interesting work with mash-ups on their sites include Hennepin County, the Ann Arbor Distric Library, and the Danbury public library.

So far we have just looked at the staff side to mash-ups, but they also provide huge opportunities for patron participation, by allowing them to create their own content.  These sorts of projects can range from simply opening up your site to public comments to what Topeka did by offering a claymation workshop for children and then posting their finished products to YouTube.

Many of these opportunities involve the creation of library "outposts" that exist outside of the library's website.  Topeka's YouTube channel includes a number of recorded book reviews from teens, one of which has been viewed 1,500 times!  They also have a twitter feed, which is actively watched by local media outlets and other city organizations.

The next step is to mash-up libraries with their communities, which means leaving our buildings.  A bookmobile is a mash-up.

You can set up "vanity feeds", alerts that monitor the Internet for mentions of your library.  These open up many opportunities to then respond to your community in places you never would have thought of.  Many comments picked up from this expanded community provided valuable insights that have influenced Topeka's current strategic plan.

Library sites should add experiences.  It's one thing to come to the library and get stuff, it's quite another to then be able to discuss that stuff within a larger community and bond with the library.

This presentation will be online later, in an embeddable format.

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