Posts filed under ‘Social Web and Social Networks’

A little love for libraries this holiday season


I love libraries (John LeMasney)

I love libraries (John LeMasney)


I just wanted to thank all of the libraries and the people and resources connected to those libraries I visited this year. Thanks for all they did to help me get the important stuff taken care of. Happy holidays!

– John LeMasney.

Note: this image originally appeared at

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December 23, 2010 at 11:39 am 2 comments

On Andy Woodworth and the Old Spice Guy discussing libraries

Let's eat peanut butter

Let's eat peanut butter

Andy Woodworth, popular NJ Librarian and friend, suggested that I illustrate the response to his tweet from the recently retired Old Spice Guy (OSG). The response, if you’ve not seen it, is a video in which OSG talked up some of the benefits of libraries, which in turn started some larger conversations and discussions about the interactions of commercial ventures and libraries and what that means. Andy details the exchange here.

The video stated, in typical genius, free-thought OSG style:

“I’m handsome. You’re pretty. Let’s eat peanut butter. Stop throwing pigeons. Jump onto that giraffe.”

Nice work, Andy, for keeping the discussion on libraries public and active, and we’ll miss you, OSG.

July 22, 2010 at 9:08 pm 4 comments

Save NJ Libraries: reverse the cuts

Save NJ Libraries

Save NJ Libraries

My reasoning behind this design was to underline how important libraries are in New Jersey for people who otherwise don’t get the opportunity to sit and listen to, or better yet interact with, a brilliant speaker, enjoy an amazing array of books, magazines, newspapers, and journals, do scholarly research in a vast set of rich databases, enjoy entertaining, informative, and beautiful audio/visual media, and maybe even just get a chance to hop on the internet. For the rest of us though, it means a cornerstone of society, community and culture being quickly and deliberately dissolved.

Please tell everyone that you know to tell everyone that they know that the cuts to libraries are a devastating blow to social progress and societal stability in New Jersey.

March 19, 2010 at 12:51 am 3 comments

Business as Editor: A Talk on Twitter

I had the opportunity to go listen to Jack Dorsey, one of the creators of Twitter, talk the other night at The College of New Jersey. Janie Hermann found out about it and let me know it was happening, and we met up with Julie (Strange Librarian) there for the hour long talk. The talk was recorded by TCNJ and the video is posted here: .

I definitely recommend you take a look at the video and listen to Jack for yourself. Below are just a few of the things that stood out for me.

A soft-spoken guy, Jack talked about how he had the idea for what today is Twitter since he was 15. He said that when starting something the hardest thing to do is TO START, and I think we can all relate to that! He spoke about getting your ideas out of your head, onto paper and into discussions with others so you can find out if there really is something to the idea or not. If you don’t get the idea out of your head and start sharing and playing with it, then you’ll not only never know if that idea is anything, but it will be difficult to move on with the next thing, the next idea, that might be something!

This relates to the transparency and openness that Jack talked about a lot. Communication and fostering a community where ideas (and even mistakes and problems) are shared is really important to how Twitter has been able to grow and to become so successful. The best lesson he said he could offer is to start from a place of transparency and to be open to criticism and suggestions. Some of the best features of Twitter did NOT come from the company. The “@” replies feature, the retweet (RT), the hashtags, and even the concept of each update as a “tweet,” all came from the USERS! The awesomeness of Twitter today is all because they went out with an idea and said this is what we have. We’re not sure what it’s good for, but we think you’ll know! As a result, today Twitter is something they couldn’t have even imagined when they started it.

These days Twitter receives thousands of suggestions and ideas every day. As a company, their challenge is deciding which ideas to say no to, and then to actually say no to those things. Based on all of the input how do you decide?  Jack said he realized that the business had to become a good editor. Company as editor.

As a business, Twitter has to choose what suggestions might add to the value and usefulness of Twitter. They would like to say yes to ideas that speak to 80% of the users and that sustain the technology and the company. They have to edit out those ideas and suggestions that will not improve Twitter. He also spoke about the business as editor when it comes to who works there – how do you choose who to hire and how do you decide when the relationship is no longer beneficial and it’s time to part ways? It’s all about editing.

He also said he isn’t interested in what market is using Twitter when a question came from the audience about how teens are (supposedly) not using Twitter. Jack said he wasn’t worried about what market uses Twitter, but about building a great product people love to use.

We also got a glimpse into what might be coming in the future when Jack talked about being really interested in immediacy and transparency and the health care and finance industries. He spoke about the fact that health and health care, especially one’s own health, is probably one of the most important things to and for us. However, most of us don’t understand what’s going on with health care. It is similar with global finance. This has a huge impact on all of our lives, but there are very few people who understand any of it. He said that health care and finance are two huge areas that he feels could really benefit from immediacy and transparency. I wonder what he has in mind!?

Check out some photos and more info here:

You can also see the TCNJ press release for the event here:

Do take a look at the video – I would love to hear what you all think of his talk!

– Amy

November 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm 1 comment

What I Learned One Weekend — thanks to Twitter!

More and more often it seems that Twitter is becoming my de facto “source of all good bits“. Having all but abandoned my bloated RSS reader a few months ago, I find now that Twitter is filling that desire to keep up with what is going on in the world of libraries, technology and beyond.

I know that many still question the validity of Twitter and others have written it off as simply a place where people share what they had for breakfast. I, however, find it a place where I can get quick links to topics that interest me and keep me current. More than 90% of those I follow are librarians or techies and I purposely keep my following list to a limited number so that noise ratio is never too high for a quick scan to cherry pick the good stuff from the stream. When I have time, I join in on the conversation and that is fulfilling too.

This past weekend I spent quite a bit of time inside due taking care of a sick child. I decided to do a little experiment and make a list of all the really cool and/or educational bits that I encountered over the weekend from Twitter.

Here is a baker’s dozen list of the top links from Saturday and Sunday — provided with minimal commentary, in no particular order:

How I Find the Very Best of the Web : Very useful tips for keeping current, several of which I plan to put in to practice!

Twitter for Libraries
: As someone who has given similar workshops and who also maintains the Twitter account for MPOW, I found this list to extremely valuable.

Why Teresa is so proud to be a Romance Writer
: I am not a genre reader in general and romance fiction is not something that I have ever read at all. This thoughtful article brough a tear to my eye and made me appreciate the value of this often maligned genre. In fact, I think I might try reading a romance or two thanks to this article.

Who is Copying and Pasting Your CC Content? Discover More with Tynt’s Tracer Tool
: The title says it all in this case.

Getting Boys to Read
: I actually read about a dozen articles from this site over the weekend. This is a topic near and dear to my heart as my 5 year old son begins his reading journey. So far he is loving reading and doing well, I just want to make sure we stay on track and the articles on site will do just that.

Teen Podcast: Episode 7
: I am loving the new video format of these podcasts from Justin the Librarian at Cape May County Library. The three questions format works well too and the 5 minute length is perfect. Well done!

Want! The Orb, a bluetooth headset that turns into a ring
: I love gadgets and jewelry. Nuff said.

The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years: Interesting reading for the gadget lover — and brought back lots of nostaglic memories of gadgets gone by.

Talking Points on Library Use
: This was not something new to me having used it in the past, but it did remind of several good statistics that can be used when talking about the importance of public libraries (especially crucial at this juncture for many libraries and many states).

100 Things Your Kids May Never Know About
: The world of technology continues to change at a rapid pace and this article from Wired drives that point home. I really do believe that it will not be long until most children will not even know how to use a road map or atlas and/or use a print encyclopedia given the current usage that these two items get in our reference collection.

Giving up my iPod for a Walkman : A teen boy experiments with using a first generation Walkman. I had a device just like the one he is pictured carrying (which means I am revealing just how old I really am…yikes).

Screenjelly : I have experimented with ScreenToaster as a free online service for screencasting, now it looks like the toast will be getting competition from some jelly. I plan to test this out soon.

Amazon, Zappos and Libraries
: In this brief blog post the point is eloquently made that for libraries … ” the future isn’t in content, really…it’s in service.” I could not agree more.

Basically, this is just a random sampling of what types of things I discover and learn on Twitter on any given day. I would love it if others shared a “good bit” or even two that they discovered recently thanks to Twitter (or FriendFeed or Facebook or any other social networking site).

I would like to thank those that I follow for providing me with such good links and food for thought on a daily basis. My learning is enriched every day by my “tweeps” — feel free to give a shout-out in the comments and lay claim to the link from your orginal tweet if I posted it above.

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July 29, 2009 at 11:11 am 4 comments

4 out of 5 Library Gardeners Recommend Twitter to their Readers who Chew Social Media

Okay, I just made that figure up. First of all there are now 11 of us here at Library Garden, and second of all, only a few of us really tweet. Even to those who already use other social networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter can be a really tough sell. It seems to be a love it or hate it kind of thing, or a “get it” or “don’t get it” kind of thing, and not even all Library Gardeners are in agreement on it. Some of us tweet a lot and some of us have never even tried Twitter.

As you are very aware, Twitter is everywhere! There’s no escaping it, whether you have a Twitter account or not. However, recently a lot of the attention was focused on the large number of “Twitter Quitters”-those who join Twitter and never go back. This article cites a Nielsen Co. report that “. . . 60% of Twitter users do not return to the microblogging site the next month.”

Maybe others have more information on that research, or a better understanding of that 60% figure, but to me not returning to the site doesn’t necessarily mean that people who sign-up for Twitter aren’t using it. I myself hardly ever “return to the site” ( because I use other programs to tweet, as well as my iPhone. So while I am a very active twitterer (my current updates – or tweets – are over 5,000) my actual use of the site isn’t very high. I use a program called Tweetie on my iPhone and MacBook, and there are many other programs you can use to tweet, including TweetDeck, Seesmic and Twhirl.

I do believe that many people sign up for Twitter and never use it. If the report said that more than half of those who join Twitter never send any tweets or updates, this 60% figure would be clearer to me. However, since you really don’t need to return to the site to tweet, saying that 60% never do return might not mean anything.

How did the researchers determine this figure anyway? If they mean 60% of new users “do not use their account to tweet” after the first month it might make sense. You could easily tell how many times someone has tweeted (as long as they are public) no matter how they sent the tweet. You could see that a new user never tweeted again, whether it was from the site or another client. But the report didn’t say that new users don’t tweet, it said they never return to the site. This doesn’t mean that those who join Twitter haven’t continued to use the service in another way.


Twitter is an interesting tool and one that is increasingly useful, even to those who don’t have a Twitter account. For example, the Twitter search function is extremely useful, and does not require an account. You can search Twitter for all the (public) tweets on any particular topic by going to The advanced search features are especially neat, and include the ability to search by emotional content by using standard emoticons such as 🙂 or :-(.

The hashtagging of topics is another way to use Twitter without going to the site or ever sending out your own tweets. You can follow current events or topics or conferences (okay some people have had it with that) by following only the tweets that have the hashtag in them. (You can read some more on Twitter and hashtags here.)

Okay, I do admit, 60% is a big number, and other sites like Facebook and MySpace had higher retention rates right from the start, but Twitter has been experiencing crazy growth ( Undoubtedly, people will join a new thing and try it when it is getting as much attention as Twitter has and, of course, not everyone is going to stay with it no matter what. When you have a lot of growth, you just are not going to keep everyone – especially if those who join are just compelled to try it because celebrities like Oprah are there. I would imagine that people who do not regularly social network might try Twitter and then abandon it because social networking isn’t a part of their lifestyle in general … they don’t Facebook or MySpace, or text or instant message, or surf the Internet for hours.


Just like all social sites or 2.0 tools, Twitter isn’t for everyone. I mean, I “get” the common complaint voiced by those who “don’t get” Twitter – even I don’t always care what people are having for lunch! I just skim over those tweets though because I do always care when they share an awesome link to an article or resource. I appreciate when they crack a joke that makes me smile in the middle of a stressful workday, or ask or answer an interesting question. Twitter all depends on whom you follow and who is following you – it is what you make of it. The particular network you have (or don’t have) on Twitter really makes or breaks it. Signing up for Twitter and then not adding any followers, or following anyone else, and then quitting, is like having a phone number and then never making or receiving any calls and saying the phone is worthless!

I think there are other factors involved in how “sticky” Twitter might be for a person – such as how “connected” he or she likes to be, and when and where and how. It may also depend on what sort of gadgets they have and if they love to use technology or not. For example, I always have my iPhone with me and it is very quick and easy for me to tweet from it – that makes it a 24/7 possibility for me (to the dismay of my husband).

I have been wondering too if Twitter use has anything to do with how much face-to-face time people get with others in their jobs and/or lives, and how much they want or need. For librarians who work in a very small office (like I do) or alone (in a special or school library for example) Twitter may provide a much-needed network of others to “talk” to and share with. If you get your fill of networking from in-person interactions, perhaps Twitter doesn’t serve a useful function for you. For me, there are just so many librarians and other interesting and smart people on Twitter. They have become a large and important network for me.


Twitter has become my first source for breaking news and information, interesting tidbits, links, information, feedback, local info and updates, tech news, keeping up with friends, etc. Even when someone I follow only tweets their lunch of macaroni and cheese I find that a seemingly meaningless tidbit like that can give me a more well-rounded idea of a person I may or may not know in person. It is our mundane or silly exchanges that bond us to each other beyond our work relationships in real life and online.

If Twitter doesn’t naturally become part of your “routine,” your habit, then it’s not going to be meaningful for you, and you’re going to abandon it. Twitter pretty much requires fairly constant use because it of its real-time conversational nature. If you use Twitter once or twice a week I wouldn’t imagine you would find it very compelling – except maybe if you only use it during conferences. (Although if you only do that, you may not have built up a good enough network for even that to be very useful.)


Pete, a Library Gardener who does tweet, puts it this way, “Twitter is what you make of it, and like all networks it becomes exponentially more valuable the more “nodes” (followees) you add. Twitter is like many social network sites in that you really have to use it for a while before you can start to see or experience its value. For the longest time I thought Facebook was the biggest waste of time–I just didn’t “get” it. But came a tipping point, and now it is something that greatly enriches my life!”

I am not saying that everyone absolutely has to twitter. However, as one Library Gardener who does recommend Twitter, I suggest that you download Tweet Deck (if you are a pc) or Tweetie (if you use Mac), selectively add some people, and try it regularly for longer than a month and see if you’re actually a Twitter Quitter or not.

You can follow me (or not) on Twitter-I’m akearns.

June 19, 2009 at 8:49 am 7 comments

A Little Link Love

Just a quick post to share a few articles and links that I have found interesting/useful/funny — and sometimes all three. These are in no particular order and with no particular theme.

Why Facebook is for Old Fogies: A humorous article from TIME with lots of truth mixed in about why adults want and need to be on Facebook. A great handout to add a little levity for classes on social networking or for any bibliography for a presentation. My favorite reason from the list:

10. We’re not cool, and we don’t care. There was a time when it was cool to be on Facebook. That time has passed. Facebook now has 150 million members, and its fastest-growing demographic is 30 and up. At this point, it’s way cooler not to be on Facebook. We’ve ruined it for good, just like we ruined Twilight and skateboarding. So git! And while you’re at it, you damn kids better get off our lawn too.

Building Your Base Toolkit: A great resource for those who do library programming from the New York State Library and hosted by the Mid-Husdon Library System. This site is designed to give libraries “tools for connecting with your community” and has lots of good marketing advice in addition to tips for running successful library programs. I am always on the lookout for new programming ideas and they have a lot of good ideas on the Creative Programming page.

Twitter Basics for Librarians: This post is meant to help libraries and librarians start using Twitter, but it could easily be adapted for any group or for a handout for a basic class on twitter at your library. This post also led my to discover Tweeters Directory: Librarians, twitter resource that I had not seen before (although I am undecided about adding my name as I like to keep my following/followers list small and hate to decline people).

: My new favorite way to browse and explore flickr, but be warned that this site can be a giant time suck. If you want to have lots of fun, do a search for the tag “librarian” and sort by “interesting” — here are the results of this search. It is so cool that Cindi’s photos comprise 3 of the top 5 and very telling that many of the “interesting” shots comprise photos of the stereotypical “sexy” librarian image. Oh, and the “librarians in shower caps” mosaic ranks quite highly too! Of course, it is always fun to search for your user name too. The black background and not needing to click to get to the next image just makes the browsing so much better.

Best and Worst Blogs 2009: The second annual list by TIME “spanning politics, housekeeping, astronomy and everything in between”. I found a few new blogs to check out thanks to this list and was happy to see many of my favorites included. The Most Overrated Blogs list is short but right on the money.

March 5, 2009 at 8:50 am 2 comments

What Libraries Can Learn from Facebook

A colleague and I were discussing the recent Facebook TOS kerfuffle and she said she was fascinated by how much privacy people are willing to give away in exchange for a desired experience. I agreed that I am equally fascinated, and that it is vitally important for librarians to be on the vanguard of monitoring these trends, and educating our customers as to the possible risks of sharing too much information.

But I also think that librarians, at times, can be too knee-jerk about privacy issues, and I wonder if while looking at one end of the Facebook dustup (big corporation trampling on privacy rights) we might be missing some important lessons on the other end (big corporation letting customers control their own information in exchange for a highly engaging experience. And Facebook DOES give customers a tremendous, leading edge, amount of control. See: “10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know.)

We all know that people (myself, and probably you included) will share personal information in exchange for a quality experience. We share personal renting and buying habits in exchange for Netflix and Amazon recommendations. We share personal reading habits on GoodReads and LibraryThing to connect with others who share our interests and tastes. We share our credit card numbers with many online vendors in exchange for the convenience of “one-click” ordering.

We know all this, and we personally experience the benefits, but librarians still seem generally loathe to let our customers share their personal information in exchange for anything. We don’t just protect customer privacy, we paternalistically protect it from the customers themselves, rendering them childlike. Our privacy philosophy often reduces down to, “We know better”, or “You can’t be trusted with that–you’ll hurt yourself.”

Our choice to disallow customer control of their own information means that their needs for connection and social networking go unmet, which in turn creates opportunities for entrepreneurial companies like Library Elf, GoodReads, and LibraryThing (created by frustrated library lovers, I wonder?) to come in and fill those needs. Which is great, but why aren’t libraries creating and offering these experiences?

I worry every day about whether libraries will be relevant, three, five, or ten years from now. Unless we start allowing our customers to make decisions about their own personal data, AND start building systems that offer them a social networked experience based on their ability to selectively share their heretofore private info, I fear that libraries will grow increasingly irrelevant to our customers.

February 19, 2009 at 7:43 pm 13 comments

Twitiquette: A Short but Helpful guide to Twittering Conference Meetings

Man oh man was there a lot of twittering going on at ALA midwinter. Ain’t it great that so many librarians are using Twitter to shed light on the decision making going on in Committees and let the rest of the organization know — in real time — what’s getting a thumbs up or a thumbs down, who’s arguing for what, and why.


As Karen Schneider brilliantly put it, (ALA) “Council may not be interested in transparency, but transparency is interested in Council.” All good. All good.

Since this radical real-time transparency thing is all still kind of new to some of us I thought a short guide on the etiquette of live twittering of committee business might be helpful:

  1. Twittering the real-time decisions of your committee: GOOD
  2. Twittering snide, insulting, remarks about your fellow committee members while they speak: NOT GOOD
  3. Twittering snide, insulting remarks about your fellow committee members while they speak and marking it with #ala09 hash tag to ensure that the widest possible audience sees your comment: REALLY VERY NOT GOOD

Yes, this really happened. No, I’m not naming names. I can tell you this though: My respect for the committee member that was twitter-slagged remains in tact intact. My respect for the slagger is in the toilet and I’m reaching for the handle.

I’m still deciding how (or if) to address what happened. Any suggestions are welcomed.

Photo courtesy of:

February 3, 2009 at 7:36 am 8 comments

Friday Facebook Fun

Confession: I don’t get Facebook. I try to get it. Really I do. But my experience has been, well, kinda like this:

May 2, 2008 at 1:08 pm 5 comments

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