Ebook Tutorials

For this week I’m concentrating on the tutorial videos located on my own library’s website.  We just recently got ebooks at my library and instead of explaining to every patron that comes in how to use them we’re trying to encourage them to go to our website and look at the videos available that explain how to download ebooks.  The link to the videos is here: http://help.overdrive.com/going-mobile-videos.

Overall, I was really impressed by the videos.  All of them are fairly short in length so that the user doesn’t spend a lot of unneccesary time listening to lengthy explanations, and they are easy to follow so that the user isn’t getting tripped up by complicated instructions.

I believe that a successful training video needs to have both of these qualities, and they need to be able to teach people who are very familar with the product, along with people who aren’t familiar at all with the product, while at the same time still being successful for both parties. 

GoodReads

All of this reading about online communities and what makes a website a succesful online community makes me think of the wesbite “GoodReads.”  This is a site where people can log in their books and share their opinions about certain books they’ve read.  It also gives reccomendations based on books that are listed in your bookshelves, and enables you to add friends to the site and compare books with them.

The reason why I thought about this community, and what makes others like it so successful is that they have actively gotten people to participate in sharing their thoughts.  Now no longer are people content to simply read other people’s posts, but instead this website forces them to give input, to agreee with others when they like their book reviews, and disagree just as vehemently.

I believe that people need to be strongly moved, or perhaps bored, to actively participate in a community.  By this I mean one has to either have a lot of time on their hands to spend commenting, or they have to feel strongly about something to comment on it.  Take for instance when people disagree with certain book reviews.  I must admit that I am tragically responsible for writing ammo filled book reviews.  I suppose this can best be explained by me writing tongue in cheek reviews on this community site about new, popular books of the moment.  I have never gotten so much feedback as when someone disagrees with me, and I’ll admit it, I kind of love it.  Being able to have a discussion, sometimes an argument with someone that you don’t know and you’ll never meet about a subject that you feel passionate about is a pretty awesome feeling, and recreating this feeling on certain sites is what I believe leads these sites to becoming successful in their user activity.

All Hail the Crowd

One place where I’ve really seen the notion of choosing the wisdom of crowds over the wisdom of the expert is on Amazon.com.  This website allows for users to share their experience on any item bought from Amazon.com, including Amazon products themselves such as the Kindle Family.  Good reviews on Amazon can shoot an unpopular or unknown book into the halls of stardom, and can just as easily cut down an award winning book, because as the crowd knows, who cares if the book was deep, it was also absolutely too tedious to get through.  This type of “crowd wisdom” is actually able to build a sense of trust between community members, and the more reviews that people write, the more that they start to take them seriously, because they began to understand that people use their reviews to determine whether or not to make a certain purchase.

In the days of the internet, it’s hard to understand what exactly an expert is.  In regards to customers looking for items to buy, an expert is simply an unseen figure telling you to buy this because everyone else did, or to purchase this other item, because they’re telling you, it really works.  What customers actually respond to are words written from complete strangers, across the world that have tested this product and have no real reason to lie about it.  They liked it or they didn’t and here are the reasons why. 

Another reason why this sort of tell all approach is able to work so well on the internet, is because people are able to say  their true feelings, while also being protected by the cloak of anonymity.  While this can obviously lead to many issues, it can also provide the best possible advice when someone goes online to purchase an item.  More businesses are beginning to use this approach, such as the website, “Angie’s List” which enables people to go online and recommend a certain contractor or painter, and warn people to stay away from others.  While these people that are writing the reviews are no experts in the field of painting or house repair, they are the ones that are “in the trenches” so to speak and actually went through the experience with the company, thereby becoming more trusting to the common person over the advice of the so called expert.

Social Media and Marketing Critique

Nicole Purviance’s presentation on “Social Media and Marketing” was a lot more informative than I assumed it would be.  Using social media tools regularly, I was under the impression that I knew most of what there was to know regarding these different sites, but it was interesting to hear actual facts and statistics regarding each website.  Some facts that stuck with me were that the largest users of social media websites were Hispanic females, aged 18-34 years.  Or that upon the unveiling of Google Plus, this website received one of the largest sign ups in a certain amount of time, but they are still failing in regards to getting people to actually use their website.  Also, I found it interesting that Nicole touched on the beginning of Facebook, and reminded everyone that this used to be a media site that catered specifically to undergraduate students and you had to have a college email address to use the website.

Another aspect of the presentation that I found enlightening was that Nicole was able to share an insider view of using these different websites in terms of promoting SLIS.  She gave examples of Facebook allowing her to see how many people had “liked” SLIS within the month, and how many times people tweeted specifically towards SJSU SLIS. 

While I agreed with everything that Nicole presented, I do wish that she would have provided more screen shots of the different websites as she was talking about them.  I think this would have given the audience a fuller look of each website that she was attempting to explain.

In terms of marketing services for libraries, based on Nicole’s information that Facebook and Twitter are the number 1 and 2 media sites, I would encourage libraries to start from there in order to get their feet wet, but to definitely expand to having some sort of a presence on as many social media sites as possible, because this is just enabling them to get themselves out there as much as possible.

The Re-Invention of Google

The readings for this week made me think of Google and how they’re attempting to totally remarket themselves as something other than just a search engine. Now, with the newly unveiled Google Plus, the website has become an entire way of living instead of somewhere you go to find out how many teaspoons are in a cup.
In terms of organizational culture, Google has definitely taken a front seat. Now someone can stream their calendars, contacts, all of their pictures and documents and share them with a group of people, or with the entire world. Forget about Facebook or Twitter, with Google you can have all of the upsides of social media, along with the perks of being business oriented enough to be tailored for a network of professionals. In terms of collaboration in the workplace, Google has taken the ability to be productive online and made it seem….cool.
So what does the ability to be wholly organized in your appearance in social media sites mean, it means a better streaming experience overall. Google Plus allows one to have different networks of friends and to group these friends together based on interests. These circles allow the user to totally organize their world into separate sectors. Take for instance, the ability to have a work group of contacts on there that you can immediately start up a text conversation with to everyone in that list. Or the ability to email that same group the link to a document everyone is working on with real time ability to edit and share the document on the web through Googledocs. This invitation to collaborate with coworkers out of the office has made dealing with the possibility of overtime a much easier concept.
In terms of collaborating with friends, Google Plus has allowed users the ability to set up a video chat and watch Youtube videos with your buddies…although I’m not exactly sure why you’d want to do that? Or the ability to post photos or feelings about topics, and just have a certain circle of friends be able to see your personal information.
The point is, while I was skeptical at first, Google has definitely opened up the doors to collaboration in a new light. With the ability to use it for both professional and social media purposes this company is headed in the right direction in terms of allowing users to become organized on the web.

Marketing Critique

For the marketing critique paper I have chosen to focus on Elmhurst Public Library.  They have an initial website which can be located at http://www.elmhurstpubliclibrary.org/index.php along with a Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/askelmhurst#!/askelmhurst?sk=wall; a Twitter account, http://twitter.com/#!/askelmhurst; a Yelp account, http://www.yelp.com/biz/elmhurst-public-library-elmhurst;  and a blog for teens, http://eplteenblog.blogspot.com/.  For the purposes of this paper I will explore each different marketing page, and then give my final feedback on the overall effectiveness of their marketing campaign.

Elmhurst’s Facebook and Twitter pages are remarkably similar.  The information on both sites surrounds the different activities that Elmhurst is holding each day, with more information and efforts given to bigger events.  An aspect that I really liked about both pages was that the information they were sharing also appeared to be about other new updates in the library or technology world that were not directly linked to Elmhurst.  These bursts of information were clever, because they’re able to draw in people who want genuine news and technology updates, and maybe not just an update on when the next Story Time will be held.

                No doubt the social media specialist linked up the accounts and every posting to Twitter also appears on the Facebook feed.  While this may seem redundant, it’s actually a smart way for the library to have all of their bases covered in regards to the types of people that they’re reaching out to.  Facebook is still more of a people orientated site, meaning the majority of those Facebook members who are “liking” Elmhurst library are their actual patrons while Twitter is able to have a farther reach in regards to businesses and other book and community associations “following” Elmhurst thereby allowing Elmhurst to “follow” them in return.  935 members have “liked” Elmhurst on Facebook and they have 404 followers on Twitter.  Both of these numbers constitute a success in terms of being able to successfully reach out in regards to social networking.

The Yelp account is the marketing aspect that surprised me the most.  I was happy to see it on there, with a direct link to the Yelp site on the opening page of Elmhurst’s website.  This page had 18 reviews on it by users, and while the majority of them were all glowing reviews, there were a few that complained of bad experiences that patrons had received.  I think advertising on Yelp is brilliant, because it’s allowing people to go on the web and read real time reviews on what they think, and it also gives people the opportunity and voice to be able to share their opinions.  One thing that the Yelp page is lacking however is Elmhurst’s responses to those reviews.  I think it would be incredibly beneficial to the library to respond to both the good and bad reviews, especially because people are taking the time to write these reviews in the first place, and it would probably be in the library’s favor to make these people feel as those they’ve been heard.

The last social media tool that the library is using is their Teen Blog page.  As far as blogs go this one is accessible and up to date, the latest post being a streaming video of “The Hunger Games” red carpet premiere.  The aspect on the blog that is lacking however is the ability to post comments.  A blog is there to pretty much represent the voice of the common man in a less structured setting, and by not allowing comments; the library is affectively stifling the voices of those teens that they are attempting to represent.   

Throughout all of these marketing techniques the Elmhurst brand has remained very strong.  The Facebook, Twitter and blog pages have all been professionally updated and serve the purpose to remind the user that Elmhurst is a large and professional library with many resources at their disposal.  While this may seem somewhat daunting, I believe that they were able to soften their image somewhat by utilizing the reviews on the Yelp page.  Now patrons have a place on the web to praise or critique Elmhurst Library and all of their activities, and it does not feel as guarded or as well manicured as their other social sites.

Overall, I feel that while it seems like Elmhurst Library has explored different avenues in regards to their marketing efforts, they could be doing much more.  The library itself is very large, and serves a vast community that has a lot of different interests.  I personally saw no attempts at photo marketing such as an identity on Instagram, Tumblr, or Flickr and without this, the library is losing out on a huge opportunity to show the rest of the online world what the library looks like inside, not only in regards to how it’s structured, but also in dealing with the different activities and programs, and what the children’s section looks like.  The library also does not have a presence on any of the “reading” websites such as Goodreads or LibraryThing, not to mention a separate blog for new releases or what Elmhurst Library is currently reading now.  By not having an identity on these websites, the library is losing out on the opportunity to market themselves as the first stop to go in regards to reader’s advisory or the first place to stop when a patron wants the new best seller.

Libraries, large or small, need to find themselves an online presence, and the larger net that they can throw, the more people they’re going to get to become interested in what they’re offering.  While there is something to be said for a successful online presence in the small venues that Elmhurst is currently occupying, this success should only serve to motivate them to venture into other areas of online marketing.  For such a large library, their absence is recognized on other social networking sites in regards to the libraries in Illinois.   While their initial attempts at marketing seemed to be fairly successful, I believe that Elmhurst Library is casting their net entirely too small.

When to Use a Wiki

I really liked AntiochUniversity’s Wiki Page, mostly because I wish my public library had a page like this.  It’s basically a training manual for front desk workers at a public library.  The cool thing about it though,  is that it’s on the web, which means easier access for everyone, not to mention the worst thing about creating employee training manuals is their ability to become out of date so quickly.  Every time a computer system or database is updated, that part of the manual becomes obsolete.  By creating this wiki page, the users made a training manual that could be updated daily or hourly with no real upset.

While this wiki page in particular didn’t have any open comments available on it, I think that it would be an excellent idea to allow certain users in the system to comment, therefore creating a sort of group effort on keeping the training up to date.  Also, by having this all available on a wiki page it becomes accessible to other libraries who may be looking for ideas on training methods and updated procedures for their staff.

While I was looking at the page I couldn’t help but think what a useful resource this would be in terms of having an issue come out at the front desk, and while still helping the patron you’re able to pull up this manual on the computer screen to get an idea of how to fix the problem in an instant. 

For the purposes of this website in terms of it being a training manual for library employees, I thought that this Wiki was the most effective, because this was a page that didn’t have a place on the library’s website, because there was no need for the patrons to have access to it, and a wiki is the perfect place to store all of this important but somewhat segregated information.

Facebook is a MUST

We have to stop thinking about libraries as places one goes to check out books.  If that’s the way the world continues to view us, then much sooner rather than later, the government will finally win on its battle to prove that we have no relevancy.  Social media is a must for libraries, because it’s the only way for us to have a presence in what’s going on in the world at this exact moment.  Public libraries are information centers, they’re community meeting places, and they should be the first ones to discover and explain new points of technology. 

In order to be on the level and in the forefront of what’s going on then libraries need to QUICKLY get on the most popular and fastest growing social media networking website in the entire world, Facebook.  It makes no sense for librarians not to take advantage of this completely free tool that the majority of their patrons are on….ALOT.

In building a Facebook page and creating an online presence however, libraries should take heed.  While taking the first step is a no brainer, there are the challenges of running a Facebook page properly.  It has to be maintained just like anything else in the library to be of any use and the person running the page should be savvy enough in social media to know the correct things to post in order to generate a following.  Just being in the big lonely world of the internet isn’t enough to consider yourself a part of it, you must be active when reaching out to others in cyberspace and demanding attention from your followers.

What the heck is RSS?

I’m going to be honest; I had no real clue of what RSS feeds were before I enteredLibrarySchool.  And I don’t mean it in that vague way of I didn’t understand how to use them, I mean I literally had never heard of them until my first class in this program.  So what does that mean?  I don’t live under a rock, I tend to consider myself fairly educated about things that are going on, and this had totally slipped under my radar. 

So how do librarians get the message out to their patrons that this is something that should be cared about, and if not cared about, this is at least a tool that should be introduced to patrons as a, “I bet you didn’t know you could do this” type of thing.  RSS feeds help the user to organize their information online, and what are librarians excited about more then having better tools to organize their information with?  So here’s the deal, this isn’t something that can be explained on a sign by the computer, or on a random bulletin board as the patron is walking out, I believe that this is something that needs to be taught, hands on, in a computer lesson type setting. 

Librarians have the role of being the ones to teach those who want to learn about emerging trends in technology, and I’ve found through working at my public library that there are a lot more people interested in these tools then what I first expected.