Monday, April 21, 2014

Tumblr for Libraries: An Outline & An Interview

Presentation Outline
1. Introduction

  • What is Tumblr
  • The How of Tumblr
    • Posting
    • Liking
    • Reblogging
    • Tagging/Tags
2. Tumblr as a Promotional Tool: The Good and the Bad
  • Why It Works
    • Easy to create/post content
    • Ease of use 
    • It's informal/casual
    • It's what's current, it's where the people are
    • Reblogging Function
    • The use of tags
    • Ability to connect a wide range of voices
  • Where it Stumbles
    • Communication is primarily one-way
    • Not the first place where patrons check for their information
    • Some blog themes are better for library tumblrs than others, and there isn't enough information
3. Tips for A Successful Library Tumblr

4. Why Use Tumblr?
  • Good informational tool to direct patrons to
  • Future of social media/networking


I had some major scheduling issues for my interview, but last week I was finally able to get a hold of a librarian using Tumblr as a promotional tool in a public library.  This librarian works in Arlington, MA, and works in children's services.  She is the one who decided to start a Tumblr for the Children's Section of her library, and is the librarian who updates the blog.

For the most part, she was very enthusiastic about the use of Tumblr for her library.  She identified Tumblr as the future of social networking, and had a lot of great things to say about how easy it was to create content with this particular technology.  One claim she made that really struck me was that if you have a blog, you have to be willing to update it very frequently if it's going to serve any useful purpose as a social marketing tool.  She told me that previously, she had been using a Wordpress blog as part of the library's outreach to patrons, but because she felt that the idea of updating it was daunting (because it seemed to demand long, thought-out posts) she only ended up creating content twice a month.  Tumblr, on the other hand, lends itself easily to snippets of content, and therefore updating it more than once a week - even daily - is not as difficult a task.  She also appreciated how it could be updated from multiple platforms (she works at two different libraries, and so is often moving back and forth between them).

Most of her concerns had to do with the failure of Tumblr to adequately explain certain aspects of itself, especially when it came to the themes you can choose when setting up your Tumblr.  She expressed disappointment in how the theme she had chosen for her blog poorly displayed links, as well as hiding tags.  (And since Tumblr's tagging system is one of it's key features, that's a pretty big drawback for a theme).  Her suggestion was that there be a clearer discussion of the drawbacks of particular themes.  She also stated that Tumblr doesn't explain itself particularly well.

Overall, she did say that using Tumblr as a promotional tool, she became aware that she wasn't necessarily reaching the people that she thought she'd be reaching - i.e, her patrons specifically - but was still supportive of the idea of Tumblr being used by librarians as an outreach tool for their libraries.

The Future of Print

OK, here's my show-and-tell for this week: The Future of Print.

Enhanced Reading

To tie in with our readings for this week, discussing the future of the book, I found an interesting video made made by Ideo, a design firm.  It highlights three interesting pieces of software that allow readers to interact with books - digital books -  in new and intertexual ways.  The first, Nelson, "allows you to see the bigger picture" of text, by letting the reader fact-check the text, view debates surrounding it, and to see what the media is currently saying about the subject of the book.  This ability goes directly against what Reinking talks about in his article when he says that one of the things that the print book does for a reader is the allowance for reflection on the subject without outside influence.

Copland, the second technology, suggests the most relevant books for you to read (in terms of professional development) based on your professional network, and allows for discussion between colleagues at a particular organization.

Alice, the last technology, is geared towards fiction, and allows for a "blurred line between fiction and reality" by inviting the readers to engage with the story by performing certain tasks related to the narrative (being at a physical location or engaging with characters through other forms of media) after which they are rewarded with extra chapters, information, or insights into characters.  (Personally, I think this last one is particularly fascinating, and found myself going 'Wow, I want to do that!)  It's an interesting concept, although I wonder how many authors will be willing to go out of their way to provide the extra content needed for this sort of immersive, interactive reading experience.

Flickr technology - Presentation outline

  • Introduction
    • Using Flickr for digital collections curation
    • Flickr for educational purposes
    • Flickr: The Commons and Collaborative potential  
  • Flickr at UW-Madison - pros and cons in academic environment
    • Support for social media communication
    • Open access collections
    • Picture board for academic institution legacy
    • Components for success
  • Using Flickr Commons
    • Collection attributions
    • Copyright considerations and collection visibilities
    • Tagging, search results, image descriptions and collection references.
    • Visual geeks and art education
  • Academic institutions’ account examples
    • Minneapolis College of Art and Design 
    • Cornell University Library
    • Library of Congress
  • Conclusion

The Last Bookshop - from bookstores to booklovers' blog narrative

When it comes to digital technology and transformation of publishing, an inevitable bookseller-readers changing pattern of relationship and the previous status quo challenges heat up disputes on that matter.

However at times this inspire creative enthusiast to use these technologies to produce noteworthy peaces of  storytelling and collaborative efforts for their cause. Small film-makers' production group from South-East of England dedicated their 20 minutes film to bookshops, booksellers and book lovers and have written a blog about this production. Short movie imagines the time when physical books become extinct and even prohibited, by the contrast with licensed e-book.

Varsity - the Online-Only Publication of Wisconsin Athletics

For all you Badger sports fans out there, check out Varsity - the Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics. Replete with the sounds of turning pages, this publication is an amalgamation of traditional print stories and digital video, a great example of what our authors have been talking about...the new e-format of literarcy.
Photo Courtesy of

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Marrying Libraries: The Symbolic and Sentimental Value of Physical Books

This week's articles contained a lot of information, but they also contained a lot of feelings. People, especially writers and other bookish types, tend to have strong opinions when it comes to e-books. I personally tend to be less easily spooked than those who fear that physical books are being threatened by their e-book counterparts, but I know that the reasons for collecting books vs. e-books are vastly different, and the reading experience is only a small part of it. 

Books, at least the physical kind, have sentimental value. You can lend a well-worn copy to a friend or inscribe a special message inside one as a gift. This essay by Anne Fadiman, which appeared in her book of essays, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, illustrates the symbolic meaning of physical books on a bookshelf and what those books meant to her and her husband. 

An excerpt from the essay Marrying Libraries.

Fadiman, Anne. "Marrying Libraries," Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. 1998. 

Presentation Outline: Instagram

What is Instagram?
            Brief discussion
·      A very brief history of Instagram
·      Basic how-to’s for a new user
            Why use Instagram?
·      Newer than Facebook, with more appeal to younger users
·      Visually appealing and exciting
·      Innovative way to advertise collection and services
·      Interesting addition to an already established social media presence
            Who uses Instagram?
·      Demographics of average users
·      Why some users are moving from Facebook to Instagram and Twitter
·      Pairing Instagram with other social media

Instagram in Academic Libraries and Other Organizations
            Some examples of who’s doing it right
·      Mutter Museum: #GuessTheDeath
·      Public Art Fund: Staff involvement
·      US Department of the Interior: Frequent posts
·      NASA: Great photos, educational captions

Guidelines for a Successful Instagram Presence
·      Create frequent, regular posts of visually engaging materials, both from within the library and throughout the campus
·      Document events, daily activities, and partnerships with other organizations
·      Monitor connected posts from the community and respond reliably and as necessary
·      Engage with students and campus population through contests, events, and even trivia – and don’t forget your hashtags!
·      Post behind the scenes sneak-peeks and pictures of your staff at work to help to put a face on the library and encourage students to get involved
·      Promote the collection, resources, and even study or communal spaces of the library through pictures and videos; it’s much more engaging than a marketed text blurb on the library home page!

·      Get caught up in over-aggressive, obvious marketing
·      Think of it as posting in a vacuum; post about other events and organizations on campus to keep things interesting and foster a feeling of unity
·      Rely on Instagram as your only social media outlet
·      Forget to explain your pictures as needed
·      Neglect the almighty hashtag
·      Ignore student posts, comments, and general involvement

Conclusion and Q&A

The Future of Books (or Lack Thereof)

The publishing company McSweeney's operates a daily humor website called Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency. In 2011, the site posted an article by James Warner entitled "The Future of Books." This is not the reading we had for class this week, but instead, it is a delightfully satirical piece chronicling the future evolution of books. It is presented as a timeline stretching between 2020 and 2080. Each decade has a short paragraph describing new trends in books and publishing that appeared at that time. The author pokes fun at e-books, social media, crowd-sourcing, wikis, and many other topics we have discussed throughout the semester. One of my favorite entries in the article is for the year 2040:

2040: Authors Will Become Like Tamagotchi.

Having determined that what readers want is a “sense of connection,” publishers will organize adopt-an-author promotions, repackaging writers along the lines of Webkinz and other imaginary pets. “Feeding” your favorite authors by buying their books will make their online avatars grow less pale and grouchy. If they starve to death on your watch you will lose social networking points. Book clubs will cultivate with their favorite writers the warm, fuzzy, organic bond a trainer develops with his or her Pokémon, a process that will culminate in staged fights-to-the-death between your author and the author sponsored by another book club. These fights will occur offline, since there will be one or two bookstores left and something has to happen there.
Other trends of the future to look forward to include when we become cyborgs in 2070 with brain-computer interfaces that cause us to experience stories as sustained hallucinations, or when we decipher dolphin oral literature in 2080 and discover it is inexplicably all about vampires. This was a short, fun article to read, and it provided a humorous counterpoint to the more serious readings for this week.

  • Warner, James. "The Future of Books." Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency 24 Mar. 2011: n. pag.

Presentation Outline-Pinterest

  • Introduction
    • History of Pinterest: a rapidly growing social media platform
    • The anatomy of a pin: why does Pinterest serve academic libraries well?
    • The Pinterest audience
  • Successful library Pinterest Accounts: Best practices
    • Content planned before beginning
    • Linked to websites and other profiles
    • Regularly updated and maintained
  • What are academic libraries pinning for patrons?
    • External resources-University of Buffalo Health Services Library
    • New book purchases, upcoming events- University of Regina Library
    • Online library resources and reference: Murray State University
    • Education and outreach for visual learners: University of Oregon Portland
  • Steenbock Memorial Library on Pinterest
    • Vision: to display collections online
    • Maintenance
    • Challenges with maintaining SML's Pinterest account
  • Conclusion

LinkedIn and Academic Libraries

Introduction to LinkedIn
-       What is it?

Using LinkedIn in Academic Libraries
-       Community instruction
-       Research instruction for students
o   LinkedIn as a database

What makes a good profile?
-       Basics of the profile
-       Tips for creating a profile that will get you noticed
o   First impressions are important
§  Profile Picture
§  Headline
o   Personalized URL
o   Summary
o   Recommendations
o   Samples of work/ relevant coursework
o   Volunteer history

-       Job Searching
-       Networking
o   Groups
o   Connections

Why should students care?
-       Negatives outlook from students
o   I’m not looking for a job so I don’t need to start a profile yet
o   I’ll just wait until after I graduate
o   It won’t actually be that useful

-       Advantages of starting a LinkedIn account early
o   Making connections now more than ever
o   Companies use LinkedIn as a headhunting tool
§  You might find a job using LinkedIn before you graduate


Gutenberg to e-readers

For this week's supplemental reading, I found a blogpost on the Washington Post's website called "The Future of Books: From Gutenberg to E-readers" by Dominic Basulto. The author's bio describes him as a "futurist and blogger based in New York City". Basulto argues that although the advent of e-books is considered a "revolution" in book publishing, frequently compared to Gunteberg's invention of the printing press, it hasn't changed how people read. The way we get our reading material is changing, but our experience may not be. As Basulto writes, "The experience of reading, the love of narrative, and the craving for new stories has been hard-wired into our DNA, and there's very little Silicon Valley can do to change this." 
I appreciated the way this blogpost connected the act of reading in the present to the past. I also enjoyed reading a positive discussion about e-books. I am an avid reader, both of printed and electronic books. While I do love the feeling of a well-worn book, I don't feel like my reading experience is diminished when I read on a kindle. As librarians and information professionals, it is important that we value any and all kinds of reading in the digital age.

Outline of Internet Archive Analysis

Introduction to Internet Archive
  • Non-profit organization with mission to build an Internet library and provide permanent access to digital collections for researchers
    • Founded in 1996 by Brewster Kahle in San Francisco, funded by sale of Alexa Internet to
    • Recognized lack of preservation of web pages during the early development of the Internet, “Digital Dark Age” -- Internet Archive sought to solve this problem
  • Originally only focused on web pages, but in 1999 began to expand to other media
  • Now, collections include archived web pages, texts, audio, moving images, and software
Benefits for Archival Institutions
  • Archive-It Subscription Service
    • Launched in 2006, this service assists institutions in building and preserving collections of digital content
    • Institution provides a site map and specifies what content to collect and how often
    • Archive-It bot crawls website and harvests data according to this schedule
    • Service provides 24/7 access and full text search capability
    • Content hosted at Internet Archive data centers
    • Benefits:
      • Smaller archives often lack resources to preserve online content properly
      • Cheaper than in-house preservation and hosting
      • Even larger archives use this service, e.g. Wisconsin Historical Society
  • Hosting Digital Collections
    • “Virtual Library Card,” free membership allows users to upload content, post in forums, and leave reviews
    • Ideal digital collection:
      • Targeted at well-defined audience
      • Community participation
        • Multiple people can contribute high-quality content to a digital collection
        • Supports forum for community discussions
        • Users can comment on, or “review,” individual items
      • Easy-to-use interface
    • Grateful Dead Live Music Collection is an excellent example of what a digital collection should be
  • Partnerships
    • Direct partnership with Internet Archive to digitize analog material
    • Often with large institutions
      • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is digitizing space imagery: historic film, photographs, and video
      • U.S. Navy’s three academic libraries are digitizing historic publications
Challenges and Complications

  • Intellectual property rights
    • Very little consideration of intellectual property or copyright protection when first founded
    • Still has not worked out all difficulties
    • Live music collections only host material from trade-friendly artists
      • Requires effort to enforce this requirement
      • Artists can change their policies
        • Dave Matthews Band: originally allowed live recordings to be uploaded, but reversed this stance in 2003; recordings were taken down

Tech assignment outline

E-book use in public libraries, focusing on youth services, and more specifically, programming

  • Introduction
  • Brief history of print book
  • History of e-book
  • E-book use in public libraries
    • Audiences
    • Trainings
    • Platform
      • Kindles
      • Sony readers
      • Other
  • E-book use in youth programming
    • Programming needs/requirements by age
    • Survey results from Madison area librarians
  • Limitations with e-books
    • Licensing
    • Publication
  • Readership
    •  Audience (by age) preference
      • Paper vs. electronic book
      • Surveys, questionnaires
  • Future use 
    • Suggestions, ideas
  • Conclusion

Valuing Reading, Writing, and Books in a Post-Typographic World

Valuing Reading, Writing, and Books in a Post-Typographic World is a chapter from the fifth volume of A History of the Book in America, written in 2009 by David Reinking. Reinking is known for his work on how literacy is affected by technology, and he is currently a Eugene T. Moore Professor of Teacher Education at Clemson University. He was an elementary school teacher for eight years before receiving his PhD from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and he also worked at Rutgers University and the University of Georgia before his current position at Clemson.

This chapter discusses the uncertainty surrounding the future of conventional books as well as discusses what written communication and books do to us and for us. The chapter begins with the discussion of written communication and how it is used in society. Reinking states that writing is fundamentally a “tool of the human intellect operating in a social world,” and “books are intellectual tools that serve the building of communities.” Therefore books, regardless of the form, must serve our intellectual and social lives. However, Reinking raises the question of whether or not this means that these functions of the book can survive in a digital format. He then presents an idealized view of what a book can be for readers (“a temporal space for pause and reflection”), and opposes this with how digital texts are naturally spontaneous, noisy, and ephemeral, which can lead to a more distracting and less reflective reading experience.

He then discusses what books have historically done for us, such as providing reliable information (since publication takes large amounts of time, energy, and resources, historically only the most “worthy” information was worth publishing), and simply being aesthetically pleasing, including illuminated manuscripts, finely made leather bindings, and even children’s books in this category. Also, digital resources are often thought of to be less reliable than print materials. However, in regards to reliability, he argues that because publishers today publish books for economic reasons just as much as they do for informational or aesthetics ones (if not more so arguably), it is counterproductive to base reliability simply of the format of the information. Instead, information seekers must evaluate and confirm the information they find, regardless of the format. Also, digital environments do lend themselves to being aesthetically pleasing as well because there are so many different things that can be done (including both visual and interactive aspects) that it is unreasonable to argue that the printed book “holds the deed on the aesthetics of narrative”.

Overall, Reinking states that the fate of the conventional book is unknown, but a bridge can be formed between choosing only printed books or only digital text. The solution he presents is that we can take advantage of the unique capabilities presented by digital texts and consider how they might be able to compensate for some of the limitations of printed books. Doing so could lead to the creation of many different kinds of books or even multiple forms of the same book that can be written or read differently by individuals in particular circumstances. His final statement is an excellent summation of his argument. He states, “This issue of what should be valued in reading, writing, and books in a post-typographic world is not strictly a question of preserving and honoring the textual forms that we have known and that have served us for so long. Instead, it involves relishing the opportunity to enhance literate experience with the new technological options now at hand.”

I found Reinking’s argument to be a refreshing change from the typical all or nothing argument that I typically hear about print books and the digital world. More often than not, the first question I get from people when I say I am studying to become a librarian is something like “What do you think is the future of books? Will they even still exist in the future?” It seems like people tend to think that one day all paper books will simply stop being made and everything will be online. While this is a possibility (although I hope it never comes to that as I am definitely one of those people that prefers print books to reading online), Reinking offers a different solution by saying that print books are definitely a good thing, but so are digital resources, and we can use this new technology to build upon the old technology to create something new.

The eBook and the Machine of Death

This is actually a topic close to me, about an anthology called Machine of Death. It has a long history that all started from this comic that posed a rather interesting writing prompt to the masses of the Internet. Suddenly, there was an open call for short stories and the Machine of Death came to be, in both print and ebook format. It was self-published by the editors and is an amazing exercise in how hundreds of people can independently write such varying stories all thanks to a T-Rex.

What's most interesting is that you can actually download the ebook for free, right now. The creators describe their thought process behind this here, and it's a really interesting concept. Since they don't really have to answer to a big, faceless publisher, they can feel free to offer this book without having to consider printing costs and the like.

Thanks to the success of the first book, they've since held another open call for stories and published a second book on the idea, called This is How You Die. Unfortunately, since they did have to go through a publisher, TiHYD is not available gratis. I'd still recommend both books for those who would be interested in the concept.

Future of Books and Netflix

While researching the future of books, I stumbled upon an article that explained an interesting new service related to reading. The article, titled The Future of Books looks a lot like Netflix, was published in Wired, a magazine about technological innovations and trends, on March 11, 2014. It discusses a service called Rooster, which is a section of a larger company called Plympton. Rooster works in a way that is very similar to Netflix; for 5 dollars a month, the subscriber receives "bite-sized pieces of fiction". The short pieces create 2 full books within the span of a month. Much like Netflix, Rooster can title the books you receive to your preferences and previous interests. According to the article, similar "literary subscription" services already exist and are growing in popularity. I thought this was an interesting spin on the "future of books" question, slightly different than the ebooks discussion we read about for class. At the same time, it reminded me of the way that some Charles Dickens' (and other authors') books were written; in weekly or monthly installments in a newspaper, rather than as a traditional novel. It'll be interesting to see if this service is a fad, or a trend that continues to grow in popularity.