Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Computers in Libraries Conference: Day Two

More great topics today at CIL2010! Here's my report:

From OPAC to SOPAC: Steps to a Social Library
Presented by Phil Green, CTO, Inmagic, Inc and Mark Patrick, Managing Librarian, Revs Institute for Automotive Research

Phil Green's presentation:
Consider your basic library catalog. It is a collection of records for items owned by the library. If you have a really fancy OPAC, it may link people to databases like NoveList or maybe even digital collections in your library. Now, add the idea that people want to interact with that content. They don't just want to find it. They want to tell others about it. They want to write reviews, comments, make lists, and tag items with key words. Now these records are more than just representations of the physical items. They are enhanced with opinions and knowledge of their users.

Enter SOPAC: a social OPAC.

A few words about making the most of a SOPAC:
1. It needs to be very clear where the content comes from. Contributors must identify themselves, and users must understand the difference between social contributions from other users and publication data about the item and its location in the physical library.
2. A library catalog with a blog on the side is not a SOPAC. It's just a social library. To be a SOPAC, the information must be integrated.

Reason #1 for Sopac:
According to knowledge management experts at a major manufacturing company, 80% of what a company “knows” resides in its employees’ minds, while only 20% resides in repositories. Librarians should contribute to the Sopac. They have useful, professional knowledge that would add a lot to the content of any catalog record.

Reason #2 for Sopac:
Need to separate the ‘back office’ from the user interface. The needs of librarians and library users are different, and therefore different types of products with different strengths are required.

Not everyone will be a contributor. The point is not that everyone contributes. Some people like to look, others don’t care at all, and a small percentage of library users want to contribute and create. (Hopefully those are the people with the most useful content!)

Sopac 2.1: Digital Strategy for the New Library
Presented by John Blyberg: Asst Director for Innovation & UX, Darien Library, Darien, CT

SOPAC 2.1 is user-experience driven. It was built for end-users, not librarians. They don’t care about elements we care about. They do care about finding their material in an environment that doesn’t make them feel stupid, or like they have something to master to get to what they want. People should enjoy looking in our catalog system.

Tagging in Sopac:
-When a user tags something, it gets indexed. If I tag something with “dogs” and someone keyword searches for “dogs” it searches things with that tag.
-Staff tagging: Create a “Staff favorites” list. Darien staff created a “better than the book” tag and tagged DVDs to create a list.

Sopac is part of larger digital strategy at Darien. Users build a profile. Their account page shows what’s checked out, what’s been requested, etc. It also includes a picture of themself if they upload one and a list of items they have reviewed and items they have rated. Users can save a search. For example, they search for “knitting” and create an RSS feed so they are notified whenever something is added about knitting or tagged/commented on with that tag.

Using Technology: Creativity & Partnerships

Bridging the Digital Divide. Presented by Paul Coyne, VP of Innovation, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Blogged at

This speaker had some neat ideas, but a little irrelevant for my library.

Second half of this presentation:
Bright Ideas in Dark Times
Presented by Louise Alcorn
Blogged at

Library use is increasing, but library budgets are not.
Patron challenges: jobs, learning, technology

Our challenges are opportunities. Libraries shine in difficult times. Every challenge is opportunity for marketing.

What can we do?
Some areas open to creative response: Technology, collection development, programming, and partnerships.

Technology ideas:
Market wi-fi access to those working from home or job searching.

Collection Development ideas:
Home cooking, family budgeting, gardening, DIY.
These are subjects that become popular in times of economic downturn. Libraries can create displays and market that they have lots of information on these topics.

Programming ideas:
Workshops on resume/cover letter writing/interviewing, sponsored by service groups, hands-on topics that match the collection development topics listed above, and that highlight local businesses and organizations.

Parntership ideas:
Local businesses and organizations may actually sponsor or present these programs and collections. A down economy is a great time to partner with these groups.

Usability: User Expectations of Online Library Services
Presented by Peter Webster, Systems Librarian, Patrick Power Library, St. Mary’s University, Nova Scotia
Blogged at

When users are not successful with library web sites, catalogs, and databases, they consider it "broken." It doesn't matter what went wrong: user error vs truly broken. They just know that they did not get what they went in for, and therefore the resource was a failure.

Users go back to tried-and-true, easy-to-use, no-fail Google. Maybe we should put our energy into putting everything on Google if that's where people want to search, rather than trying to make our resources like Google. If the quality of what is available through Google needs improving, maybe that's our job. This is a provocative statement to make to librarians for sure, but food for thought!

The chain of information access, from need to retrieval, is only as strong as it weakest link. Remote access, printing services, link resolving, are key parts of the chain. Anything old, as well as inconvenient formats, break the chain. New interfaces and laptops/netbooks/smart phones have become part of the chain of access. Users expect easy, direct, and immediate access to needed information. They have alternatives, and low tolerance when library services fail to meet expectations.

-Confusing, inconvenient, slow = BROKEN.
-Less than immediate information access = BROKEN.
-Limited or incomplete collections = BROKEN

Areas of focus for the future
-Seamless, simple, fast and reliable systems and services
-Common interfaces, seamless and integrated discovery.

Reference for a Digital World

askON CALL: a pilot, adding voice to chat
Presented by Jan Dawson, Ask Ontartio, VR librarian and Project Coordinator
Ontario Libraries’ virtual Reference Service

This Ontario chat reference service is made up of 39 public partner libraries and 21 academic partner libraries. They piloted a program to add Voice Over IP to their chat service so that customers could actually call them over voip for reference help. They chose to use Skype for the service because that seemed to be the voip service most people are using. They found that when they asked their chat customers if they'd like to try the voip service, the customers either did not use Skype, were on a public computer that did not allow Skype to be installed, or did not have the needed equipment handy (microphone, speakers, headphones). They are investigating having LivePerson software, which is what they use for their chat reference service, offer the VoIP service directly so that customers do not need to install anything separate from that.

Current State and Future Prospects of SMS Reference
Presented by Joe Murphy, Yale Science Libraries
Prezi online at

SMS = text messaging between cell phones. The most heavily saturated use globally of cell phones is text messaging, so a huge number of people have access to SMS and are already using it. Libraries that don’t engage text messaging don’t engage the demographic who text, and that demographic is growing.

Technology considerations:
Cost of device and service, insurance, activation, and staff time.
Staff impact: time to train, explore, use, promote
Ability to meet patron expectations.
Flexibility with text platforms and services from device to device.

That's it for Day 2! Stay tuned for one more glorious day of library technology!

1 comment:

  1. Love the SOPAC idea. Even if staff are the only ones that make and read the comments/tags, this will be a huge help. So often we make lists, notes, pathfinders to help each other. Putting it right into the OPAC will mean that it will be right there and not forgotten about, therefore, less reinvention of the wheel.