Marshall Breeding is the Director for Innovative Technology and Research @ Vanderbilt University and Editor of Library Technology Guides.
Abstract: The operations of libraries focus on ever increasing proportions of electronic and digital content relative to print materials. The structure of the legacy library management systems that dominated the last three or more decades of library automation was rooted in print, though some products have evolved better than others to accommodate modern content formats. The established worldview that libraries can rely on one set of automation tools for print and another set for managing digital collections and electronic subscriptions is in danger of collapse in favour of library services platforms that aim toward a more unified approach to resource management. The economic realities that libraries face today demand that they operate in the most efficient ways possible, with workflows that accommodate current needs and not built around assumptions of a past print-centric age. Breeding will provide an overview of the new library automation products now emerging and how they differ amongst themselves and from traditional library management systems. He will also provide information on the development progress of each of these new products and trends relative to their adoption in libraries and forecast their longer term impact on the library automation industry.
Here’s a promo video for Andy Tattersall and Claire Beecroft’s ScHARR Workshop: “A free web toolkit for the modern library”. In the workshop, Andy and Claire will introduce delegates to a variety of tried and tested web 2.0 tools which offer real value to LIS professionals.
This workshop is part of the MmIT National Conference 2012: Reduced budgets? Increased impact! Tools and technologies for an effective library and information service being held on Tuesday 17th April 2012 at the University of Sheffield.
There are reams (or the digital equivalent) of advice about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) available online, but a lot of it relies on popular SEO myths and ill-advised attempts to game the system in order to boost search engine rankings. But for those of us who are simply interested in improving the discoverability of websites, it’s harder to find straightforward advice without all the bogus tips and SEO myth pepetuation.
If you are delivering services online, it is helpful to keep up to date with how search engines index and present search results. The biggest factor that no amount of trickery can avoid, is that content is king. Providing regular new content with descriptive titles is the simplest and best way to improve your search engine ranking. Another step in the right direction is to make sure that you use clean and descriptive URLs rather than the non-descriptive dynamic URLs produced by some Content Management Systems.
Link referrals is an important but contentious area, if only because it’s open to abuse. While manipulating this by creating link farms or other dubious means will rightly get your hand slapped by the search engine, there is undeniably value in participating in the ecosystem of the web by having people link to your site.
To find out what’s happening under the hood of the Google search engine, the best place to start is right at the source with the Google Technology overview and the Webmaster Guidelines (taking these with the required grains of salt, of course).
This post has focused on Google search, but if you’re more generally interested in the technology behind search engines, have a look at the tech running other, open search platforms such as Duck Duck Go or YaCy. Or you can go back and have a look at where it all began.
TheMmIT National Conference was held in Sheffield on the 17th April.
Conference plenary and workshop abstracts
Marshall Breeding – Director for Innovative Technology and Research @ Vanderbilt University; Editor of Library Technology Guides Paradigm Shift: A Slate of New Automation Platforms address Current and Future Library Realities
The operations of libraries focus on ever increasing proportions of electronic and digital content relative to print materials. The structure of the legacy library management systems that dominated the last three or more decades of library automation was rooted in print, though some products have evolved better than others to accommodate modern content formats. The established worldview that libraries can rely on one set of automation tools for print and another set for managing digital collections and electronic subscriptions is in danger of collapse in favour of library services platforms that aim toward a more unified approach to resource management. The economic realities that libraries face today demand that they operate in the most efficient ways possible, with workflows that accommodate current needs and not built around assumptions of a past print-centric age. Breeding will provide an overview of the new library automation products now emerging and how they differ amongst themselves and from traditional library management systems. He will also provide information on the development progress of each of these new products and trends relative to their adoption in libraries and forecast their longer term impact on the library automation industry.
Ross Mahon – Google Apps Edu Evangelist @ Google Cloud Computing and the Digital Natives
The next generation of students bring to University a different set of expectations. These “digital natives” have grown up in a world where consumer technology has evolved at a rapid pace and this has changed the way in which they communicate and share information. Of course, there are many differences within the group and in some respects the problem lies as much in their over-confidence as their comfort with technologies. Meeting the needs of these students and providing the tools to enable the next generation of teaching and learning provides difficult challenges for universities today. Ross Mahon from Google will explore these trends impacting the Education sector and the challenges universities face today addressing them. He will also look at how tools like Google Apps for Education can help universities leverage powerful consumer cloud based technologies to engage students and foster creativity in the use of technology for teaching and learning.
Andy Tattersall – Information Specialist and Claire Beecroft – University Teacher @ University of Sheffield A Free Web Toolkit for the Modern Library
There are legions of free Web based tools that can help you promote and organise your library and information service. You may have heard of many of them, but how do you choose from a bewildering number of tools? Which will survive in the long term? Which ones offer true value? And which will have true impact? In this session, delegates will be introduced to a variety of tried and tested web 2.0 tools which we believe offer something of real value to LIS professionals. We will debate their pros and cons before demonstrating some inspiring ways in which they’ve been put to use, drawing on examples from public, business and academic libraries. The workshop will show delegates how to make the tools work best for you with minimal effort and how to make them join up to make a cohesive tool kit for any modern LIS. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering ‘Where do I begin with web 2.0?’, the answer is ‘Here!’
René Meijer – Information Commons Manager @ University of Sheffield Designing Space and Services to Support Digital Literacies
Appraising and creating digital information can be challenging to support, in particular when this information is not in a textual format. Working with media requires different equipment, different spaces and different skills in supporting staff then working with textual and more traditional resources. This interactive workshop will give an overview of how digital and media literacy is supported in the spaces, technology and services available in the Information Commons, and how lessons learned are currently being applied to the design of new spaces and services in the University of Sheffield.
Dave Pattern – Library Systems Manager @ University of Huddersfield Discovering Discovery: Experiences of Implementing Summon at Huddersfield
This session will cover Huddersfield’s experiences of being the first commercial implementation of Summon in the UK, including details of the implementation, marketing and rollout, and the impact on both information literacy training and on journal usage. The workshop will be an opportunity also to discuss experiences at other institutions and learn from each other.
Jon Fletcher – Faculty Liaison Librarian @ Nottingham Trent University In the Palm of their Hand: The Next Step for the Handheld Librarian
Ever imagined QR Code library inductions where you collect coins and unlock extra in-game characters by learning about library services? How about Augmented Reality quests where you explore the physical library space whilst hunting mysterious objects and virtual 3D maps? Or have you considered the future of enquiry systems in the mobile age? Many of our users now carry mobile devices which offer previously unparalleled opportunities for interaction, yet many libraries have yet to explore these opportunities. This interactive session will discuss the latest developments in handheld technologies and look at developments in the library world and beyond for examples of good practice and case studies. Participants will be invited to discuss whether libraries can turn the ‘wow’ factor into the ‘now’ factor in order to offer exciting (and necessary) new services to users.
It’s been more than a year since we looked at social media analysis tools and a lot has changed in that time. If an internet year is 7 weeks¹, than a social networking year feels like even less than that. And, as important as it is to have a social media strategy, it’s equally important for this to be a dynamic strategy, being constantly revised.
Some of the tools mentioned last year are still around; ThinkUp has left beta, HootSuite is now a freemium platform and, sadly, TwapperKeeper is no more (although the core functionality is now built into HootSuite). Twitter itself has gone through a couple of iterations since then. In the latest version of the Twitter web client (I’ve lost count by now, let’s just call it #newnewtwitter) you can view the interactions and mentions, activity (what people you follow are up to), browse categories and try to make sense of the latest ‘trends’ (only joking). But there still aren’t really any built-in tools to monitor the reach and effectiveness of your Twitter presence.
There are lots of different tools and apps for exploring Twitter metrics. I’m ignoring Klout and PeerIndex because measuring ‘influence’ is not the same as measuring engagement and in order to review your social media strategy you need data to show interactions with those who use your library or info service . For similar reasons, I’ve steered clear of social marketing tools such as Socialbakers and the like (also their website is a bit ..busy).
Metrics specifically for Twitter can tell you more about your followers (including reciprocal followers and ‘influential’ followers) but there are also more meaningful measures such as ‘conversations’. If you ask a question on Twitter, for example, how do you track and store the responses? And how can you archive and analyse conversations that occur on Twitter at conferences or around a specific subject?
And these can also be linked to your other web services. Twitter (and other social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn) have a growing role for web traffic referrals. Twitter announced a new Twitter web analytics tool late last year in recognition of this but it’s gone a bit quiet since the first announcement.
Most Twitter power users manage their Twitter account via a Twitter client. TweetDeck (now owned by Twitter) is a handy way to manage multiple Twitter accounts if you meet the rather stringent browser requirements but doesn’t offer anything in the way of usage statistics or analytics. Similarly, the reporting tools of Hootsuite are largely restricted to Premium account holders.
I’ve heard good things about TwitterCounter (which generates graphs for current and predicted levels of followers) but more in-depth analysis is again limited to premium accounts.
Tweetreach is handy for occasional reports; you can view the ‘reach’ of your latest 50 tweets without signing up for an account.
Tweet effect is also a useful reference but on the various accounts I tried, it didn’t identify any correlation between tweet content and follower loyalty.
ThinkUp is the Twitter analysis and archiving tool that I use the most. It’s particularly good at measuring Twitter-based conversations by keeping track of replies, retweets and inquiries (questions you’ve posted on Twitter). It also has a GeoEncoder plugin to let you map your social networking conversations. The downside (or at least a slight barrier) is that you need to have hosting but this has been reduced a fair bit by the increasing free and shared hosting options available. PHP Fog now offers free ThinkUp hosting which you can have up and running in next to no time.
Tweetstats is great charting tool. As well as follower stats and frequency charts, you can visualise who you interact with most on Twitter, and even patterns of what time of day you tend to tweet — handy for identifying accidental routines.
Xefer is another great graphing tool built using Yahoo Pipes and Google charts. The Reply Explorer also lists replies to your tweets that you can sort by date or frequency.
And if you’re *really* into visualisation tools, check out TAGSExplorer, a brilliant tool created by Martin Hawksey that lets you create interactive visualisations of your Tweets using a Google Spreadsheet, the Google Visualisation API and some kind of d3.js graphing library magic. This is particularly great way of post-conference social networking analysis because it let’s you clearly see the interaction between participants.
Chances are, if your organisation is using Twitter in a significant way, you will need to use a couple of different sources and tools to review how you’re interacting with your network(s). And if there are any you’ve used and found particularly useful or any that we’ve overlooked, let us know in the comments.