Archive for January, 2007
Hey I just wanted to post a brief report on the NJLA Information Technology meeting that was held on Thursday at the East Brunswick Public Library. LG’s Tyler Rousseau gave a great presentation on Gaming in Libraries! The full presentation and handouts will be available very soon on the “Links of Interest” section on the NJLA IT page.
After Ty’s presentation everyone got a chance to do some hands-on gaming! We provided Play Stations with Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero (one of my personal faves); some online gaming and the new Nintendo Wii. The only downside to this event was that NOW I MUST HAVE A Wii!!!
I don’t consider myself to be much of a “gamer,” but once I tried this I found out what all the fuss is about! It comes with the sports game that includes bowling, tennis and a few other things. I played the bowling game (against a very formidable opponent, Mary Martin, who kicked my butt!) and I am really hooked! The “real action” play of using the wireless hand-held controller while performing actions very similar to “real” bowling was just so much fun! I am officially saving up my money as of yesterday!
Funny aside: The other night a newscaster was reading from the teleprompter and read “Wii” as “World War II”!
Also, if anyone is interested, our next meeting will be held March 8, location TBA, and will focus on Vodcasting! Check our page on the NJLA website for more information!
And, I wanted to point people to a great tool shared by Jessica Adler at the meeting (one of the regular features of our meetings is sharing information and sites or tools of interest)! The tool is Snipshot and it allows you to edit photos online before you share them. There is nothing to install – it is 100% web-based, with a one-click important from any site, and you can save to a free, permanent URL. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks great! Thanks, Jess!!!
At some point I’ll post some thoughts about ALA Midwinter, but at least I’ve gotten my pix uploaded to Flickr.
I learned a bit about web widgets at the last Internet Librarian conference, but this is the first very interesting (and fairly in-depth) article in the mainsteam press that I have read discussing widgets. Not sure what these “widgets” are all about? Check out today’s New York Times Technology Section’s “Some Bling for your Blog” article, describing what widgets are, what they can do, how you can use them, etc. Some of my favorite excerpts from the article:
“Widgits are elements, often in the left or right columns of a blog, that enhance its usefulness or aesthetic appeal. (The term “widgets,” confusingly, can also refer to compact applications that operate on a computer’s desktop.)”
“‘Widgets pull content or services from some other place on the Web, and put it into your personal page,’ said Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures in Manhattan.”
“Ed Anuff, a co-founder of Widgetbox.com, divides widgets into three categories. ‘One is self-expression widgets, like photo galleries, games or YouTube videos that you like,’ he said. The second category includes widgets that generate revenue for a blogger, like a box that displays auctions from a particular eBay category, or a blogger’s favorite DVDs from Amazon.com. The third category, Mr. Anuff said, encompasses ‘site-enhancement widgets, like discussion forums, news feeds or a guest book, which provide better utility for your Web site.’ Widgetbox is a site begun in September that collects widgets, spotlighting the newest and most popular ones; it offers more than 500 widgets.
According to Widgetbox, its most popular widget allows bloggers to incorporate an updated feed of news items from the site Digg into their blogs. Matt Mullenweg, creator of the WordPress blogging software, says the widgets that his users have been incorporating into their sites lately include Meebo, an instant-messaging application that allows blog authors to chat with their visitors.”
The article goes on to discuss the benefits of widgets to blog visitors and publishers, more examples of their use, and people, companies, and sites that promote and supply widgets. A very interesting read, I must say, again. I am looking forward to playing around with various widgets, and I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I did!
In this morning’s USA Today Tech section, a short article was written about the U.S. search market from comScore Networks, showing that in December 2006,…
* Google sites were ranked as #1 with 47.3% of U.S. search market
* Yahoo sites as #2 with 28.5%
* Microsoft sites as #3 with 10.5%
* Ask Network as #4 with 5.4%
Also interesting from the article…
* “An estimated 6.7 billion searches were conducted by U.S. Web users in December, up 1% from November.”
“The number of U.S. Web search queries has grown 30% since December of 2005, comScore said.
Go to the actual January 15, 2007 press release of comScore Networks survey cited for some more detail, which also lists…
* Time Warner Network as #5 with 4.9% of the U.S search market,
and it states there that “Google Sites led the pack with 3.2 billion search queries performed, followed by Yahoo Sites (1.9 billion), MSN-Microsoft (713 million), Ask Network (363 million), and Time Warner Network (335 million).”
I am sitting here watching the local evening news when a story comes on about the fact that if a library reports your overdue fines to a collection agency you can lose anywhere from 50 to 100 points from your credit score. Wow, that is a lot of points for overdue books!
I only caught a portion of the story (Mommy duties intervened), but what I did catch was an interview with a library director stating something to the effect that in times of budget cuts it is essential that libraries make it know that overdue materials affect the bottom line.
I went searching for some reference to this story, and found an article published today on Kiplinger.com called Boost Your Score that starts with this tidbit:
Pop quiz: Which affects your credit score more, getting married or having overdue library books?
Surprise answer: A library fine that goes to collection can shave 100 points off your credit score — and boost your annual interest payments by hundreds of dollars. But getting married doesn’t affect your score at all unless you co- sign for a loan with your new spouse.
I am not entirely convinced that library fines are even needed in the first place, so my gut reaction to having someone’s credit score ruined by late library books doesn’t sit well with me at all. I might be more sensitive to this as I protect my credit score with a passion ever since I had to work so hard to build it from scratch when I first moved to the USA 9 years ago. None of your credit history follows you across the border (so I discovered, much to my dismay) and I could not get a credit card, car loan or any other other loan to save my soul for several years. A few points off your credit score can make a big difference in loan rate and I am sure that the average citizen watching this news segment did not get a warm fuzzy feeling about libraries learning that we could be the ones to impact their future mortgage rate.
So stipulated: Library OPACS, uh, lack the functionality we desire. We’re all agreed. OPACS should be much, much better.
Here’s my question: How does the quality of the OPAC ultimately affect the total quality of customer experience and customer satisfaction? I think the answer to that question may be quite different from library to library, depending on the needs of our different user populations. Public library users may be more inclined to be browsers, and may not really care that much about how good the OPAC is. Academic, school and special library users may be more inclined to search for specific titles, or titles within specified subject areas, and may therefore care more about the quality of the OPAC.
But even in libraries where customers rely heavily on the OPAC, I’m not sure that the quality of the OPAC figures that greatly into the customers’ overall satisfaction. (I suspect it often doesn’t…) I worked in a small special library that had a truly awful, terrible OPAC. It was one of them home-grown government agency deals–ugh! But our small, dedicated staff gave great customer service, did a lot of outreach, offered a good deal of training, and our user satisfaction was quite high. While I’m sure our users really would have valued a better OPAC, their overall library experience was not greatly affected. If we instead had offered a really super-great OPAC, but lousy customer service, I don’t think our users would have been quite so satisfied…
In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey suggests that we are most effective when we focus our energy at those points where our concerns intersect with our ability to influence. Clearly the OPAC falls into our collective sphere of concern. But I’m not sure how much influence we have over the quality of the OPAC. I’m not suggesting that we don’t try to influence the quality of the OPAC — by working with vendors, creating our own systems, or a combination of both. I’m truly thankful that John Blyberg and Casey Bisson are out there. But I do think that for many libraries, or
more perhaps I should say for many librarians, we may be able to get more bang for our limited buck, more return on the investment of our time and resources, by focusing our energies elsewhere.
I’d like to see libraries looking at their own spheres of concern and influence and making critical choices about where their time, energy, and resources can best be used to improve the quality of customer experience. In many cases, I suspect that we can have a much greater impact on customer experience by focusing on (in no particular order) the quality of the library’s environment (“library-as-place”), the library’s customer service, the library’s webpage, the library’s collection, the library’s programs, the library’s outreach, and the library’s marketing (they can’t experience us if they don’t know about us.)
I’m particularly interested in how libraries can create better customer experiences and be more relevant to their user populations by improving their physical environments. How do our customers experience the actual library space including, the visual (displays, colors, lighting, layout), the tactile (comfy furniture) the olfactory (yum… coffee…), and the aural (zones of quiet, zones of noise, background music)? How does the library staff improve the quality of the environment? Are they warm, friendly, and hospitable? Are they visible? Are they proactive and helpful?
As Joshua Neff recently pointed out, I’m not the only one thinking about these things. Meredith Farkas, (in a must-read, smart, sensitive, insightful, and mostly-polite post) says that she doesn’t use her library because she, “found the whole atmosphere really unwelcoming.” Nicole Engard found that her local librarians “were not very approachable, knowledgeable, or friendly.” Jennifer Macaulay , “admits” that she’s not a library user either (and how many of us would “admit” the same?)
Now how many of you don’t use your library because the OPAC sucks? Just wondering.
Ever since we moved to the “new” blogger I have had a problem with my posts disappearing never to be found again. Just want to see if blogger is going to play nice with me today and finally let me post list for the 5 things meme since I have now been tagged twice. Nothing more to see for now… but hopefully more later today.
Edited to Add: