Tag Archives: library

User Interface Expectations

Been thinking a lot about user interfaces lately…what happens when the “language” of your users changes? For example, how many companies have cute phone numbers that spell their name…something like 1-800-GRIFFEY. Before cell phones, dialing this made sense: you pressed each letter in turn: 1-800-475-3339. (warning, number goes nowhere)

Post-SMS, how many teens do you think will see that number and try to dial the number as if they were texting? I’ll admit that when I think about dialing letters, I default to “txt” behavior.

This isn’t an example of the interface changing. It’s the same phone, with the same letters in the same order. But the expectations of that interface have changed.

Where have libraries been guilty of this? We have an interface, and it’s still being used…but the patron expectations have shifted slightly, and we haven’t taken that into account…


Last week the Annoyed Librarian started a somewhat interesting conversation with the wonderfully caustic post “The Cult of Twopointopia“. I won’t respond fully to the post (plenty of people have weighed in, both in the comments and on their own blogs…see Meredith, KGS, and David Lee King for more). I did want to comment briefly on the AL’s followup post, “An Alternative Voice in Librarianship“. In it, the AL says (heavily edited for length, read the original if you think I’m missing anything important here):

…I can’t just ignore things when I’m bombarded with them in the premier publication of the American Library Association, now can I? That seems to be the twopointopian strategy. Never say anything critical. Don’t engage the opposition, because the opposition just isn’t on the “cluetrain,” so we can ignore them. Don’t analyze, just proselytize. Sorry, baby, it doesn’t work for me. I like evidence and argument, not mantras and affirmations.

They publish stupid “manifestos.” They ignore criticism and never seriously engage with any opposition, because they think they can ignore the opposition. The opposition is too timid and well mannered to take on the regressive thugs. The opposition (sometimes) is too poorly informed to take the twopointopians on on their own ground.

I find this to be a bit disingenuous, especially after reading things like:

the twopointopians “get it,” while the rest of us just don’t understand. They’re like religious converts preaching the gospel of 2.0 to everyone, and they just can’t understand either that nobody cares, or that everyone already knows about it.

For the diehard twopointopians, their way is the way. They don’t like criticism or discussion, because they’re not up to it. They like captive audiences of neophytes who they can impress with their speeches about all this great new stuff. They like to use the mystique of social software and new technologies to impress upon their crusty colleagues how hip they are. They like to pretend that people who aren’t impressed with how righteous and “user-centered” they all are are just ignorant clowns who don’t know anything about how libraries ought to be run.

That’s a long way around to get to my own thoughts, but here goes: The AL rants about wanting the “twopointopians” to produce “evidence and argument” for Library 2.0. I’m not a fan of the phrase “Library 2.0”, but as shorthand for “the use of web-based tools with a social bent for informational exchange, rating, searching, and creation” I think it works. Even if I don’t like the nom de guerre of the concept, I certainly count myself as one of the “twopointopians”. At least, as I think the word is being used. I will happily count myself in the company of David Lee King, KGS, Jessamyn, Meredith and others.

What I want to know is: Where is the evidence and argument from AL? Given the above quotes from AL, it appears that we are all religious zealots. I can’t say that AL reads anything like a well-reasoned and cogent argument for…well…anything. It looks like a lot of hyperbole and name calling to me. What exactly is the argument for “Not-library-2.0”?

Here’s my argument FOR Library 2.0: Alexa’s Top Websites for the US. Out of the top 10 most visited sites on the ‘net, 8 of them have some type of social facet. What’s your argument for Not-Library-2.0…whatever that might look like?

Building a Library 2.0

I’m not sure if that title actually comes across with the meaning I’m after. It’s not Building a….Library 2.0. It’s Building a Library….2.0. 🙂

Is anyone aware of a building project being managed via 2.0 tools? MPOW has been funded for a new library, and we are currently in the project planning phases. I’m pushing for us to be completely transparent about the process…we are a state school, and everything we do is more or less subject to sunshine laws. Might as well put it right out there.

As a part of the project, we’re going to be managing it with a wiki (still under construction due to new server being purchased), probably sharing documents with Google Docs, and we’ve already started our Flickr Pro account for photos of site visits. We’ve got two video visits that will probably go up on YouTube.

Is there anyone else out there doing this? I know there aren’t many simultaneous builds going on, especially of academic libraries, but surely someone has done a “transparent build” before. Our plans involve letting the community comment on the wiki, and gathering feedback from as many of these sources as we can to inform our build plan.

Anyone out there have suggestions for the process that the 2.0 technology might improve, other than the things I’ve mentioned? This is new for me…it’s going to be an interesting few years.

Consider this the first of a few blog posts on transparency. More exciting news coming later this summer. 🙂

Open Library

Open Library logo I’m a bit late in pointing this out, but Open Library launched it’s public beta.

I feel that I can say with little hyperbole that this is the future of libraries.

After hearing about the project from Casey Bisson at ALA Annual, I was excited. But seeing this thing in the flesh is a whole other level….my hat goes off to Casey, Aaron Schwartz, Karen Coyle, and the rest of the OL team. This is a huge step for libraries…now, give us a nice, tidy, easy to use API and we’ll be happy. 🙂

Why ALA will never learn

Good job on the unconference. Just one fairly serious problem, at least to me. The Wiki has almost zero mention and absolutely no logos for LITA. The only LITA mention is in the text of the About BIGWIG wiki page.

This is a portion of an email that BIGWIG received as a result of being featured in the ALA Direct email after Annual, getting a bit of press for the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase.

I have lots of things that I’d like to say about this, but they all boil down to this: when, as an organization, we are more concerned with how we are portrayed than with results, I believe we’ve seriously lost our way.

I have also been thinking a great deal about the various fronts that have began mobilizing to make active change in the ALA. BIGWIG has obviously been working to move LITA in directions that we feel are important, but I admit that the bureaucracy of the whole endeavor takes some of the wind from my sails. If we ran our libraries the way we run our organizations, our patrons would be in real trouble.

BIGWIG popularity

bigwig social software logo

In doing a bit of research tonight, I discovered that the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase is now the 10th result of over 700,000 for the single search term “Bigwig” on Google.

Pretty amazing for something sprung from my, Michelle, and Karen’s brains just a few months ago. That, plus the mention in AL Direct today, David Free’s analysis of the attendance of the Showcase, and I think we might just have a winner on our hands. 🙂

My favorite photo from Showcase

Here’s my very favorite photograph I took during the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase at ALA Annual 2007:


That photo says so much. Here’s a few more that add to the conversation:

IMG_9381.JPGIMG_9381.JPGIMG_9385.JPGIMG_9366.JPG People not listening to talking heads, and experts in certain areas not preaching to the masses, but groups talking and interacting and questioning. Was amazing to see, and I can’t express how happy I am with having pulled it off. Thanks to all the presenters that put themselves out there for us, and worked so hard to provide content. Also, thanks to the 30 or so people who showed up to a completely unproven program, with no ALA advertising, and no appropriate listing in the program.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll still be highlighting the presentations on LITABlog, and continuing as much an online conversation as people wish. I’m also very interested in what opinions people might have vis-a-vis Showcase 2008…yes? No? What gets changed? What makes it even better?

Waste not…


So that photo is of the top of a trashcan on Friday at ALA Annual 2007. Why did I take a picture, you may ask yourself (this is not my beautiful house!)?

Because on top of the can are the contents of two of the bags that ALA distributes to every registered attendee. This was not an isolated incident…I have seen at least a dozen or so of these piles of paper, and I myself immediately tossed everything except the included map of DC. Probably 2 pounds of paper in every bag. There has got to be a better way of doing this, ALA.