Thing 4: Twitter, RSS, and Storify

I have been using Google Reader to organize my RSS feeds for a few years now, and I have found it invaluable. Instead of having to visit many different sites to find new content, I just fire up Reader and here it all comes in one neat package. In addition, if one blogger runs up against an issue and takes a break from posting for a while, I don’t have to waste time checking their site regularly. The tool has also made my job search easier, as I can set up many different targeted searches on certain sites (like Indeed or Simply Hired) and watch the results come in. Instead of checking the searches periodically and having to figure out which postings are new to me and which I already saw, I use Reader to do the heavy lifting. The use of categories makes it easier to focus on the specific feeds I am interested in at a particular moment in time, like job searches, library information, entertainment, etc.

Twitter, on the other hand, is something I don’t feel I’ve used to its full potential. I’ve had an account that I use to follow feeds of interest, but I’ve had trouble keeping up with it (as I have with Facebook) as life has become increasingly busy over the last few years. I feel that Twitter and Facebook almost require being constantly connected in order for me to keep up with all of the content being delivered. This is why I find TweetDeck so useful. I use it to segregate feeds into categories, so that it’s easier to pluck out the ones I’m interested in. While I very much enjoy the humorous musings of @blainecapatch and @meganamram, if I can only check once during the day and I’m interested only in joblist postings, I can check the appropriate column on TweetDeck and ignore less critical feeds. At this point, however, Twitter is almost exclusively a consumption tool for me, and I want to do a better job of unlocking its potential for two-way communication.

Storify is new to me. I played around with it this week, and I like the interface, but I haven’t yet figured out how this is so different from embedding media in a blog post. Yes, it’s easy, and the integrated search makes it even easier, but it’s not a game-changer as far as I’m concerned. I will explore some more, but for right now, I don’t know that it provides enough improvement over other platforms, even for those of us who are not PHP experts.

Comparing the tools, even though I use Reader the most, I think Twitter is the one with the most potential because it can do all of the passive consumption that Reader can (as long as adoption of both methods is comparable for content creators), and it offers the added dimension of being able to have discussions about the content (or anything else). As far as Storify is concerned, I see it as a potential alternative to blogging platforms, but not one that I feel is a need-to-have at this point.

Thing 3: My Personal Brand

I’ve been blessed with a pretty unique name, so I wasn’t expecting many crossed wires when I looked at my online presence. Indeed, pretty much all of the results linked back to me. Also, there wasn’t much in the first few pages that wasn’t professionally related, which I expected since I tend to keep my professional and personal brands separate and I am rather guarded about my personal information. I keep Facebook information out of search engines, and I keep my Twitter account anonymous for now (I use it strictly for following other accounts anyway).

The one thing that surprised me was how much information about me doesn’t come up on searches. This blog, for example, doesn’t show on Google. My professional portfolio site is nowhere to be found, and neither do several others that I created for various MLIS projects. My LinkedIn profile is right at the top of the list, as is a Pathfinder LibGuide I made as part of an assignment for my reference class a couple of years ago. After that, there are links to a few comments I left on other people’s blogs, and a bunch of government documents that I filed when I worked for a real estate developer (off-topic, but nothing damaging). The main takeaway from this exercise for me is that I have some work to do to highlight all of that content I’ve been putting online about my library interests and achievements.

Here are some other lessons I learned:

There are differences between various search engines. I used both Google and Bing, just to see what each would return. Both engines return my LinkedIn profile at the top, but after that they diverge. Bing shows two old posts from this blog’s previous incarnation, followed by a comment I made on a baby blog and the LibGuide mentioned above. Google ignores the blog and goes right into the baby comment and LibGuide, followed by some entries from Google+. So, depending on what engine a person users, they may be able to find this blog quickly, or not at all. That does not sound promising for my budding blogging librarian career!

Names matter. My full name is Leonardo, but I usually go by Leo. Remember when I said that my LinkedIn profile is the top search result on Google? Well, that assumes you use Leo, which is the name I use for that account. Use my full name, and LinkedIn is off the top page entirely, which is a bit of a problem because I tend to use that variation on my resumes and cover letters. So name consistency matters. I’ve now changed my LinkedIn profile to include both, but Google hasn’t figured that out yet (more on that in a moment).

Online brands are difficult to manage. When I first moved out to the West Coast many years ago, I caught a show by an up-and-coming Southern California band. I became friendly with one of their members, and ended up having some pictures posted on their site. It’s nothing bad, but certainly not a professional image of me. There is a reference to me being there and how I got to meet them as well, which could be considered a bit risqué even though it’s perfectly innocent. Because the blog used my full name, it’s been on my top results page on Google ever since. I never asked them to remove my name from it because I didn’t see any harm in people seeing it, but it goes to show you how easily an online brand can be polluted by the actions of third parties.

If you are curious about what that site says about me, just Google my name and find the link in the results. I’d link to it here, but that may well increase its algorithm score and keep it around even longer.

Cache-ing is forever. I mentioned that my Linked In account did not have my full name attached, which hurt my visibility. Well, I changed that a few days ago, and I’m still not seeing any changes, and the same thing goes for this blog. I changed the name when I signed up for CPD23, and yet Bing is still showing it under its old tagline. So even if I take action to repair or focus my brand, it doesn’t mean Google cares, at least not for a while. So the lesson is, it’s easier to build your online brand the right way than to change it later. I guess it’s like tattoos in that way.

Thing 2: Investigate some other blogs

After looking at some of the other blogs in this program, it looks like many of you out there are in the same situation as me as far as wanting to have a more significant online footprint but not knowing how to do that: what to talk about, how to differentiate yourselves from all the other blogs, how to let go of that apprehensive feeling you get when you put yourself out there. Finding fellow travelers feels good, and makes dealing with these issues easier. It does wreck my plan to own the “apprehensive but curious neophyte blogger” persona. : )

I left a few comments out there for some of you. It felt good to offer my support, even if all I could do was to agree with a particular thought or congratulate others on putting themselves out there. This doesn’t feel like a conversation quite yet, but I am looking forward to more engagement as the program continues.

As far as blogs I read outside of this program, I am working on updating my blogroll over to the right there. For now, I’ve added links to my top three library-related blogs:

  • I find David Lankes inspiring and intimidating all at once. His is the blog I go to when I am feeling conflicted about becoming a librarian, or my enthusiasm ebbs a bit. One of his videos is enough to keep me motivated for a while.
  • I read Jill Hurst Wahl’s digitization blog to stay up to date on digital librarianship. I find it to be a key source of information on all things digital (in the interest of disclosure, I should say that I am a former student of Jill’s). I also find great advice on more mundane aspects of librarianships, such as creating a professional portfolio or running effective meetings.
  • I’ve seen references to David Lee King’s blog in a few posts for the CPD23 program. I find him engaging and thoughtful. I have also gained a healthy amount of respect for the Topeka and Shawnee county public library system and their willingness to implement rather progressive ideas for library services.

After looking through the blogs that are part of this program, I am looking forward to all of the great posts and conversations in the months to come!

Thing 1: Blogs and blogging

I’m in a bit of an in-between world right now: I completed my last MSLIS class in December, and I’m looking for a job as a Librarian, which may not come for a while given my lack of library experience and the state of the job market. I’ve spent a significant part of my time during the last three years thinking about librarianship, and I want to continue thinking and refining my ideas. I saw the post about CDP23 starting up, and I thought it would be a great way to help myself focus on library-related topics. With a full-time job, a job search, a cross-country move, and family obligations, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give myself prompts to think and write about the kind of Librarian I want to be.

I have a strong interest in Web 2.0 and the ways in which web technologies and applications are influencing or being influenced by libraries. I have thought a lot about digital libraries, virtual reference, user-generated content in libraries, the whole ebook issue, and similar topics. I want to share those thoughts with others who share my interests, and hear what they have to say as well, especially given that I am new to this field. I think CPD23 is a perfect vehicle for those conversations to happen.

I also want to give myself a blogging structure so that I can get into a solid posting rhythm. I tried to start this blog when I began the Master’s program, only to find that I didn’t have a lot of free time and that I struggled to find my librarian voice. I also couldn’t escape the feeling that I was the tree falling in the forest where no one can hear. I am hopeful that this program will help in overcoming those obstacles.

Done!

This weekend, Syracuse University will hold its 2012 Commencement celebration. While I finished all of my MSLIS degree requirements this past December and won’t be able to attend the ceremony (it’s quite the trip from San Diego), I find this to be a great opportunity to reflect on the past three years.

Looking back, I accomplished a lot: I obtained a Master’s degree, held down a full time software development job, obtained my first formal management experience as head of my company’s Product Management department, and started a family, as our son Sebastián arrived almost two years ago. I have not exactly slowed down in 2012: we welcomed our daughter Lucía in February, and decided to move to the New York area so that our children can grow up surrounded by grandparents and extended family. This created yet another whirlwind of activity, as we work to find new jobs and uproot the lives we’ve built on the West Coast. I know I need to take a break at some point, but right now I feel like Charlton Heston in The Agony and the Ecstasy. When will I make an end? When I’m finished!

Although overwhelming at times, the road has been incredibly fulfilling. I have learned much and grown considerably in several areas: professionally, intellectually, and as a human being. I am excited about my future as a parent and a technologically savvy librarian, and I’m looking at this move eastward as an opportunity for Librarian to become my job description as well as my vocation. Would I prefer to broaden my search for employment beyond the New York City metropolitan area, especially in this job market? Yes, I would. But life is all about managing competing priorities, and right now I feel that I have mine in order.

As far as short term plans for this blog, I have signed up for the 23 Things course that begins this week, so I will be posting my thoughts and reactions here. It will be a great opportunity to explore the world of Library 2.0, connect to people with similar interests, and hopefully find my blogging sea legs again.

Weeding

For the Spring 2010 semester, I am enrolled in two classes. One of them is IST-613, which deals with Planning, Marketing and Assessment in libraries. For our first assignment, we had to go to a nearby library, pick a section of about 200 books, and weed! A summary fo the experience is below.

Over the next few weeks, I will be updating this blog to incorporate some of the knowledge that I gain from my classes for this semester, and I will also begin to post about some of the most interesting parts of my fall ’09 classes, which were introductions to reference services and digital libraries.

Reflections on Deselection

For my weeding assignment, I chose the technology section of the San Diego State University Library (T14 on the Library of Congress catalog, which SDSU uses). This process underscored several of the concepts that we learned about from the readings and lectures. As previously advertised, this was a difficult process, and almost every book that I chose for deselection became an agonizing decision. My choice of an academic library did not help matters, as the institution’s focus on research added another dimension of anti-weeding arguments: sure, that directory of Czechoslovak manufacturers from the late sixties (see number 4) is hopelessly out of date and of no practical use, but perhaps, in the hands of an enterprising Economics graduate student, it will become the key information artifact that uncovers the hidden signs of the demise of Communism. In the end, however, I was able to adopt a pro-weeding attitude and find several books that should be confined to either offsite storage or the recycling bin. The section contained 202 volumes, of which I deselected 29, and chose an additional 10 for weeding and re-ordering.

This was not exactly the weeding process as it would be conducted by the librarians themselves. First of all, since the library instituted electronic borrowing records several years ago, I was not able to gather any meaningful data on frequency of use. Second, because I only saw what was on the shelves, I had no way of knowing whether any volumes were checked out, taken off the shelf for repairs, or ordered but not yet delivered by the publisher; I was potentially dealing with an incomplete collection when making decisions. Third, I did not have access to any faculty or subject expert input regarding the books; all I could do was look at them, briefly read the introductions, book jackets, or at most one or two pages of text. This made it a challenge to determine obsolescence and, especially, accuracy.

I followed several basic rules: I looked for books that were in bad condition, I removed duplicate copies of works, and I looked for volumes that were older and seemed to have lost relevance. Because of the fast pace of evolution in this subject area, I considered any book older than 15 years potentially obsolete, and looked for volumes that were written of and for their time: practical guides, conjectures about future (to the author) developments, etc. I also experienced the power of bias first-hand, when I decided to keep a volume on “the existential pleasures of engineering,” written by Samuel Florman in 1976 (number 19). I met Dr. Florman many years ago when I received a fellowship named in his honor during my undergraduate days, and found him to be an insightful and exceedingly intelligent person. While I did not find any specific reason to deselect his book, given its age and subject matter, I may not have been so quick to keep it if not for that personal connection.

Poster Session: Ebooks in the academic library

Ebooks in your academic library?

Collection Development Considerations

IST-511 Group 14

Teresa Bettis, Lisa Hoff, Cherie Prior, Kathryn Shanahan, Leo Stezano

EBooks in the academic library poster (courtesy of Teresa Bettis)

Our poster (courtesy of Teresa Bettis)

Libraries are increasingly adding ebooks to their collections. Since the specific needs of the students and faculty that make up the community served by academic libraries vary, the impact of incorporating ebooks within their collection should be considered.  First, the difference between print books and ebooks needs to be established.  “The obvious definition is that an e-book is an electronic book that can be read digitally on a computer screen, a special e-book reader, a personal digital assistant (PDA), or even a mobile phone. In other words, e-books are consumed on a screen rather than on paper.” (Nelson, 2008)  The libraries then need to weigh the benefits and the drawbacks of including ebooks in their collection development.

The benefits of ebooks within collection development

  • Ebooks improve patron service and are able to meet patron needs better than print books. Since they are electronic, ebooks offer better searching capabilities, allowing the patron to quickly search full texts using keywords. Patrons today are more accustomed to web services and are becoming increasingly reliant upon the internet. In a survey of undergraduates and postgraduates at several different universities, “Eighty per cent of the students used the web for studying and learning” (Bennett, 2005). Ebooks cater to these users. Ebooks also provide offsite access, allowing distance learning and remote students to use library materials.
  • Ebooks are more environmentally friendly than print books. As public awareness about environmental concerns increases, libraries are looking for ways to become greener. “Ebooks eliminate the need to cut down trees for paper and use fuel to produce the books and to transport them” (Poremba, 2008).  The library has an obligation to the community to reduce environmental impact.
  • Ebooks save physical space since they do not require a place on already crowded shelves.  A study done at MIT’s Barton library found that “lack of shelf space for books and journals” was a “serious impediment to study and research” that affected both students and faculty (MIT Faculty Committee, 2002).  Adding ebooks allows the collection to continue to grow without using up any additional space.
  • Ebooks are available very quickly and provide the most current information through automatic updates. For example, Oxford University Press is a publisher that provides updates for their electronic material. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, a 60 volume set, comes with “regular updates including new biographies, revisions, and features” (Oxford University Press, 2009). Also certain technologies are already outdated by the time the printed book is available for patron use.
  • Ebooks can save the library money.  Print books suffer from wear and tear due to physical handling which requires repair and eventual replacement. A survey of Academic Research Libraries (ARL) found that 3.2% or 70 million dollars of their combined annual expenditures was spent on preservation of circulating materials (Kenney, 2002).  The library will also spend less on shipping since eBooks are delivered electronically.

The disadvantages of ebooks on collection development

  • Ebooks are often bundled into large packages to be sold by vendors. Bundling results in a lack of quality since it often includes materials that the library wouldn’t normally collect. It also increases the quantity of titles the library is required to store. When the University of Worcester decided to add ebooks to its collection, it chose a vendor based on the “ability to buy individual titles instead of bundles” (Taylor, 2007).
  • Ebooks don’t have any established standards across the market.  There are many different user access models, and readers and patrons have a difficult time learning to use the different readers. The libraries also need to learn the different platforms and negotiate the various service terms offered by different vendors. “The greatest single barrier to uptake with regard to software and hardware is the lack of common platform for ebooks” (Bennett, 2005).
  • Ebooks exist as digital files which need to be stored and supported. “E-resources are more labor intensive than print. It was thought that reducing or eliminating check-in and binding of print journals would be effort save in an e-journal environment, but troubleshooting access and URL maintenance takes time and effort” (Armstrong, 2009).
  • The library is not always guaranteed perpetual access to ebooks that it has bought. “To support open research, libraries will need ‘ownership’ or ‘first sale’ rights that allow perpetual access and fair use.  The ability to manipulate an e-book collection easily to eliminate older editions is attractive where currency matters. In other disciplines where long-term research is essential, assurance of perpetual access will be vital” (Snowhill, 2001). The recent example where Amazon deleted George Orwell’s 1984 from customers’ Kindles only intensifies this concern.
  • EBooks can cost the library more money. Most ebooks cost as much as or more than the list price for cloth print books. For example, the cloth edition of Advanced Physicochemical Treatment Technologies is listed for $175. The ebook version of this same title is listed for $175, $189, and $262.50 depending on which ebook aggregator supplies it to the library. The library will also have to pay for server and tech support if it wants to host the ebooks itself or pay to have the vendor host them. In 2007, an ARL survey of 118 libraries found that the libraries spent 160 million dollars combined on hardware and software for e-resource support (Association of Research Libraries, 2008).
Our group at the poster session (courtesy of Teresa Bettis)

Group 14 (courtesy of Teresa Bettis)

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Brian McLaughlin, Acquisitions Supervisor at Syracuse University’s E. S. Bird Library for his valuable insights into some of the difficulties collection developers face with ebooks.

Reference List

Armstrong, K., Nardini, B., McCraken, P., Lugg, R., Johnson, K.G. (2009). When did (e)-books become serials? The Serials Librarian, 56(1-4), 129-138.

Association of Research Libraries. (2008). ARL statistics 2007-08. Retrieved from http://www.arl.org/stats/annualsurveys/

Bennett, L., & Landoni, M. (2005). E-books in academic libraries. The Electronic Library, 23(1), 9-16.

Bettis, T., Hoff, L., Prior, C., Shanahan, K., & Stezano, L. (2009). Informal interview with Brian McLaughlin, Academic Acquisitions Supervisor, Syracuse University.

Dinkelman, A., & Stacy-Bates, K. (2007). Accessing e-books through academic library web sites. College & Research Libraries, 68(1), 45-58.

Kenney, A. R., and Stam, D. C. (2002). The state of preservation programs in American college and research libraries: building a common understanding and action agenda. Retrieved from http://www.clir.org

MIT Faculty Committee on the Library System. (2002). MIT Libraries: meeting critical needs for the 21st century. Retrieved from http://libraries.mit.edu/

Nelson, M. R., (2008). E-books in higher education: nearing the end of the era of hype?, EDUCAUSE Review, 34(2), Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/er

Oxford University Press. (2009). Oxford dictionary of national biography. Retrieved from http://www.oup.com/oxforddnb/info/news/

Pace, A. K. (2004, September), E-books: round two, American Libraries, Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/

Poremba, S. M. (2008). Take a look at today’s vibrant ebook market. Econtent, 31(2), 32-37.

Snow, L. (2001). E-books and their future in academic libraries. D-Lib Magazine, 7(7/8), 1-10. Retrieved from  http://www.dlib.org/dlib/july01/snowhill/07snowhill.html

Sprague, N., & Hunter, B. (2006). Assessing e-books: Taking a closer look at e-book statistics, Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 32(3-4). 150-157.

Taylor, A. (2007). E-books from MyiLibrary at the University of Worcester: a case study. Program: Electronic Library & Information Systems, 41(3), 217-226.