Archive for February, 2012

Ah, I think I’ll start posting my comments to classmates’ blogs via Twitter! I’m tired of the frustration of never being able to post comments on Blogspot blogs unless I’m first! So, I’ve tried it already answering Colleen’s post about the high traffic times on social media sites.

Now I’m experimenting with embedding twitter tweets in this blog. Bear with me, please, I won’t usually put you through reading the same stuff twice via different media! I just thought it was kinda fun that the author of the “Twitter Browser Extension” article also loves geolocation stuff (see Library Cardamom) and QR codes (see me.) Couldn’t get that said in 140 characters.

Twitter Browser Extensions for Better Social Management » Social Media Examiner socialmediaexaminer.com/3-twitter-brow… via @smexaminer Likes geocache&QR too!!

— Lucinda Scott-Keller (@lscottke) February 29, 2012

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Code{4}Lib Tips for Techies

Well, talk about a divide! This is the technical divide, as far as I’m concerned. If I’ve entered the early history of homo sapiens in my digital skills (and I suspect I’m a lingering cro magnon with a smidgen of neanderthal) I’m not even up to a newborn homo habilis in this markup, code, string language. So, I can live with being a digital immigrant, but I’ve just been confronted with the fact that there are probably a few digital species as foreign to each other as they are to me, that some digital natives speak another language than others, and that the languages aren’t remotely related. (When I was in HS it was Pascal, but that’s gone the way of Latin and ancient Greek and more recently dictaphones, super eight and floppy discs.) There is a parallel here to what Danah Boyd meant about digi natives using the tools with versatility but not necessarily understanding what the tools are doing or how to use the information.

I know a number of classmates have admitted this article was a tad beyond their level of expertise. May I just say it was …alien?

What I loved was the dadaist quality of being totally ignorant while recognizing there was a great organizational step by step “how to” for those who can make sense of it all. I am also struck by just how UN-uniform the world of encoding remains. It’s a bit, at least in a simplified analogy I can grasp, it’s a bit like what cataloging must have been before AACR. (Let’s not get onto FRBR, RDA, Folksonomies etc)

So, no insight here, even after waiting a few days and making a few stabs, and boy do I hope I won’t always feel this clueless!

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Dempsey’s extensive article on the way 2.0 technologies are changing our lives and the places – or should I say time and spaces – in which we work and act was an interesting collage of the opportunities and challenges of our permanently wired world. One of the most notable points for me, not only for the thought but also for word choice (bricolage!) was the remark about converging (or at times conflicting?) modes of 21st Century information-gathering and classic research methods. It brought immediately to mind an article I skimmed (yup, there’s that alarming “attention scarcity … where a bouncing and skimming style of consumption has been observed” (Nicholas, et al in Dempsey)) about Twitter’s role in predicting citation, i.e. the correlation between tweets and later frequency of citations in connection with publication. It’s a bit off track to relate these two, but the research certainly pertains to new ways in which social media is used in a mash-up with “old school.”

From the teacher librarian perspective, the dilemma whether to connect by building “an internal social network …[or to] piggyback on one of the social networks they already use” was very pertinent. I know plenty of colleagues, not to mention students, who choose not to use school conduits of communication if avoidable. On the other hand, who is going to allow the library into their private network unless they’ve gotten enthusiastic through some other means?

I’m exercising brevity, so let me end on how RELEVANT the need is to develop some sort of cross generational / cross cultural social media etiquette, and HOW CHALLENGING it is to compose a condensed, content rich message. I need more practice!

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The purpose of libraries is to preserve and disseminate information. Library 2.0 has the same purpose.” (Zanin-Jost, 2004)

As a number of classmates have already pointed out, this article was an easily read explanatory essay on three of the useful tools in the Library 2.0 repertoire. All three give information and feedback to library users, and blogs and wikis allow a genuine interaction between the library and its patrons. Perhaps it’s due to my unfamiliarity with RSS, but I really can’t see a way in which RSS technology is interactive per se, but it does “feed” the library’s news (or just selected strands/topics in some cases) to the user who has opted to receive updates, who then has the possibility to comment on the blog etc., etc. In this case, “user initiated” would seem more appropriate a description than “interactive”, but I split hairs.

Blogs and wikis can only be as successful as the degree their creators and contributors participate. Zanin-Jost describes the companies that survived the dot.com bubble as offering “assessments of their products and services online” and, more importantly, offering customers an option “to write personal comments and suggestions, thus creating a network of information that was then used by the same company to improve their products and services.” (my italics) The blog in the library will only hold patron interest if updated regularly and responses to customer opinion or suggestions are quick. The wiki will only be a useful collaborative tool or forum (intra or inter) if active exchange and engagement occurs.

I thought the following definition (abbreviated by me) interesting for its final part: “Library 2.0 can be defined as a set of innovative technologies and services …facilitating the use of library resources and services, allowing library user to participate and keeping the librarians updated in their field (Zanin-Jost citing Casey, 2006; my italics again).”

It hadn’t occurred to me actually: Gee, the librarian learns as much as the patron! It had me forehead slapping, because of course I am picking up lots of professional information through the blogs and websites I follow that are dedicated to librarianship, social media, education and technology.

For my personal interest in researching the divide between Germany and the United States in their school library concepts, I particularly appreciated the author citing Mirja Ryynänen: “Libraries are especially important now when the whole idea of education is stressing more and more independent learning and acting. All citizens must be able to find and use information. It is the key raw material – but it is a zero resource, if there are no access points to it and if documents are in chaotic order.” (Zanin-Jost quoting Ryynänen, 1998 and my italics again!)

Last thoughts:

I don’t know how many of my classmates checked out the links under “Resources”, but I did like the Kansas City and Ann Arbor sites especially with their myriad thematic blogs, which can be followed individually through RSS.

Ending on a poignant note, The “Library Crunch” blog from the Resources was dormant, but Michael E. Casey gave a link to his more current blog. It looked rather bare, far less interesting, but there is a really moving post in tribute to Steve Jobs, in which Casey tells how the iPad enriched his own mother’s final months of life battling cancer. It’s well worth reading.

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Phew! Over on publib, there is a real tempest brewing about those little squares. It seems they raise quite a few people’s dander, both in defense and against them! I’ll just list a few anonymous comments. It started with:

“Hi All-I just visited the Kimtag site and found out how simple it is to create GQ codes. Now I’m pondering: what have any public libraries used them for? Anything particularly valuable? Have you had any feedback? I should point out that the reason I spent time on this today is because I read something this morning about how these are a passing fad”

The thread continued with the neat site I posted already, and then the rabble was aroused:
Enthusiastic, bubbly PRO
“We’ve been using QR codes on shelftalkers. We have readalike shelftalkers that say, “If you like author A you might like authors B,C,D, and E.” Next to the list is a QR code that takes you to a page with the shelftalker text and provides a link to the rest of the readalike lists we have on our website. We’ve been promoting our databases with shelftalkers that have QR codes leading to our database page. These say something like, “Interested in genealogy? Try using Ancestry or HeritageQuest.” We hang them in the stacks, in the appropriate subject area. Finally, our library has a cooking blog (Have Book, Will Cook). We’ve used QR codes linking to the blog on shelftalkers that are hung by the cookbooks.”

Snippy CON
“QR codes are mostly on their way out. Many stores that were using them have now removed them. It’s just an extra step to put someone through that could easily be put on a sign for them to read. I think they’re a neat idea for scavenger hunts and things like that, but otherwise you’re just asking your patrons to do more work to get information. I’d hate to see libraries hang on to this the way they hung on to Second Life for years after most of the users had moved on to other things like Minecraft.”

Offended PRO
“I disagree with this completely. If someone has a smart phone with a browser in their hand and wants to use their browser to be linked to a website with more complete information, QR codes speed that process up to the point where it is almost instant. Also, one can link to instructional videos, etc. that play in the browser that might make a process clearer. The age of taped-up signs everywhere is what’s on the way out, not the integration of the physical and web environments, which is what the QR code makes possible.”

“The experts say so” short & sharp CON

“I dunno, Google declared QR codes dead months ago.

PRO (with humor)
“We work for the patron, not the trend-setters, and the patrons are still
using them. If near-field transmitting takes off, we’ll use that, too. But
QR, for the moment, is cheaper. And AVAILABLE. Keep us posted when NF ads
are available to public libraries, though.”

“I’d have to disagree with both the assumption that QR codes are dead and that print signs are on the way out as well. The problem with NFC replacing QR is that it hasn’t fully been integrated in more than a few countries, the US not being one of those countries. So QR codes are by no means disappearing just yet.

The idea that taped up signs are on the way out because of QR codes is pretty funny to me as well, since you have to place the QR code on a readable surface anyway. If someone is placing QR codes on anything but print signs then they are most likely wasting a resource in doing so, because that display could be better served connecting someone to the information they desire faster as was Angela’s complaint earlier.

My two cents on the original post: The real question should not be whether the item is a passing fad, but whether it will increase traffic for you. If you have quite a few people that have phone in hand at all times, you should consider using QR codes at least for now. If you have few people that even know what a smart phone is, then don’t sweat QR codes at all. At our library tried it out because we want to improve our reach, but most of our patron base just isn’t of the tech savvy nature so it failed. I feel that giving it a shot may be worth it if you aren’t sure.”

“We’ve been careful to try to deploy them in ways that actually increase utility for the patrons, rather than simply repeat information we already have on a page. We put them on bibliographies, so that patrons can access the record set in the catalog in one fell swoop instead of title-by-title. This means they can look at availability of items and place holds faster. We’re looking in to putting them on our program posters so that patrons can zap the event into their calendars, but so far I have not found a QR generator that lets you put iCal information and lets you track the use of those tags. We don’t do things that we aren’t able to quantify.”

“Here’s a good article on the awareness of QR codes. http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7959-two-thirds-of-consumers-don-t-know-what-qr-codes-are-survey It does save time in typing out a URL, but people are going to need a really good reason to want to visit a website, such as a display by a local artist. If you just watch people in a mall or Best Buy or anywhere else that has them, you’ll notice the majority of people ignoring them. I actually get annoyed that stores won’t just tell me what the sale, price, etc. is- I have to dig through my purse to find my phone, unlock it, open the app, scan the QR code, and then wait for the site to load. I could have read a sign in 2 seconds. You are also limiting the information to people with smart phones. This is coming from someone with 2 computers, all the video game consoles, and who stands in line for each new iPhone. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, not harder. I guess what I’m saying is use them wisely, and don’t make your patrons work for information they could get in an easier way. I don’t mean to be a Downer Debbie, but I’m just not really a fan.”


“If you read the comments section below the story I think you’ll see that most people don’t agree with the gist of the article.” http://www.businessinsider.com/those-little-square-codes-you-scan-with-your-phone-are-dead-2011-3

Sooo, what did the rest of you spend your day doing?

I PROMISE that’s my last post on QR Codes. (Doesn’t mean I won’t comment on them somewhere, though! :-))

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QR Codes Continued

English: 3 QR codes in Derby Museum

Image via Wikipedia

I mentioned in my last post that I was puzzled about QR codes, although I certainly am impressed by the use Los Gatos PL found in constructing their new library tour.

Here is an opinion article about QR codes, and why they won’t last. The author, Jon Barocas, points out how little the trend has spread here in the United States. He recommends Mobile Visual Search (MVS) instead. Perhaps his most interesting point, apart from the QR code security risks involved:

“In today’s increasingly mobile world, instant gratification is the norm, and taking the extra step of finding a QR code scanner on your mobile device no longer makes sense. With MVS, you are interacting with images that are familiar and desirable, not a square of code that elicits no reaction.”

There may be a hidden agenda, considering the author heads a company marketing video content services. In any case, he is definitely looking at their application from a commercial perspective. The image I’ve included here shows QR Code location in a museum.

My questions to 597 classmates:

1. Have any of you used either QR codes or MVS in any capacity? If so, for what/to capture what?

2. Does anybody see a unique service use of either technology in the library setting?

3. Any thoughts on why these codes are widespread in China and Japan, but not here?

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QR Codes

Just a short message about QR codes and a link to a neat usage in the Los Gatos Public Library!

Have you also been wondering what those little coded squares were good for? Still not sure I am a fan, but the link above finally gives me an excellent example of how they might be used. Look at the mobile phone’s new building “Walking Tour”, which was created by techie library staff with QR codes.

I picked this up from the PubLib listserve, by the way. I thought it was kind of cute because a couple of people were calling them GQs! Feeling as clueless as I did? Wikipedia (where else?) has a fairly mystifying entry on QRs, submitted in November 2011.


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