Online Gaming

Let me reveal, I am not much of a gamer myself and prefer other methods for learning and entertainment. (I am quite intrigued by Rock Star though I have not played it yet – if you are hosting something in the Tampa Bay area, let me know!)

For this library 2.0 lesson on online gaming, I headed to my library’s Just for Kids page and explored some of the online games available to the younger folks. This was actually a nice trip down memory lane. I landed back in the first grade, where I first played computer games at school. Just like in the past, the games available from the library’s website are semi-educational though the graphics have certainly improved!

Though I may not be passionate about Dance Dance Revolution or World of Warcraft, I support gaming in libraries.  For many libraries, gaming is another means to carrying out a library’s mission and serving the community. Regardless of popular perception, libraries are not just a place for books and DVDs. Libraries provide connections to information in many forms, and will continue to share this information as long as there is a need. Functions such as collection, preservation and organization assist tremendously in this process, but so do less formal methods and interactions.

ThinkFree

This morning I took a moment to play with a new tool: ThinkFree.

Overall, this is a fine product. I found the design especially appealing compared to other similar products such as Google Docs and Zoho. With ThinkFree, users can create, edit, share and publish documents, spreadsheets and presentations. The online version has a separate area for personal work (My Office) and for collaborative work (Workspace). Also, one convenient feature is the option to save a document as a PDF. I am starting to use online office tools more and more, and this is a tool I will definitely use again.

Using del.icio.us

I am a big fan of del.icio.us. Since uploading my bookmarks (then a reasonable 645) to del.icio.us last year, I have never felt a need to return to storing favorites in a browser. Being able to access all my bookmarks from any device with web access is simply invaluable.

The Firefox add-on Tags Everywhere uses del.icio.us and is very convenient when adding many new sites at once. I prefer using the Firefox browser outside of work. (There is no access to Firefox at work.)

Like other web 2.0 tools, del.icio.us bookmarks can be accessed from other places besides the del.icio.us website. I am using the del.icio.us application in Facebook and friends can access my bookmarks from my profile.   

I enjoy sharing bookmarks with friends and colleagues, too.  At the same time, I like the option to keep certain bookmarks private.

Recently I have set up several RSS feeds for different tags in del.icio.us.  I have found this to be a better way to keep tabs on a topic than by simply using the subscriptions feature.

Features of an Ideal Library Catalog

This week, as part of the Library 2.0 training, we are to think about our ideal library catalog. I have posted my list of desired features below. The list includes both old and new features. (For comparison, my library’s catalog is available here.)

General

  • Open source (see Evergreen and Koha)
  • Integrates seamlessly with library website
  • Flexible – anticipates future needs
  • Accommodates a large number of simultaneous users
  • Secure
  • Also available in Spanish

Appearance

  • Visually appealing
  • Ability to enlarge text sizes
  • Design clearly incorporates customer and staff feedback, and current research (e.g. eye-tracking studies)

Navigation

  • User-friendly navigation with minimal clicking
  • Direct link/s to apply for a library card, library checkout periods, library fines, circulation policies
  • Clear link to readers’ advisory material
  • Add a section such as (but better phrased) “Didn’t see what you were looking for?” with links to iBorrow, WorldCat and “Suggest an Item”
  • Majority of page content is visible at a glance, without having to scroll down
  • Option on catalog homepage to sign in to library account

Searching

  • Ability to search website content and catalog in one search box
  • Fewer text boxes and more drop-down menus
  • Ability to see at a glance which libraries show copies of an item checked in (both total number of libraries and library names) without having to scroll down or click
  • Option to search catalog on library homepage
  • Option to limit search to available (checked in) items only
  • A search retrieves any other versions and editions
  • Searches items in languages other than English

RSS Feeds

  • RSS feed for hold notifications and/or overdue materials
  • RSS feed for new additions to the online catalog
  • Highlight recently returned items (no personal data, just book information) on side frame and offer an RSS feed

User-Generated Content

  • Supports and encourages tagging
  • Support for user reviews 

Other Features

  • Customizable
  • Suggests similar items or suggests other versions/editions of item
  • A section that indicates the current total number of items systemwide (similar to U.S. Census population clock)
  • Option to save item for later review (e.g. booklist)
  • Option to place a hold

 

Information Discovery Through Comments, Reviews

Public libraries can harness the power of comments, reviews and ratings to encourage social information discovery and better connect library members with content. Here is a list of 7 ways:

 

  1. Add LibraryThing for Libraries and enhance the OPAC with member tags and reviews
  2. Use the ChiliFresh Book Review Engine to publish member reviews
  3. Have a display of library members’ picks, instead of staff picks
  4. Start an online book club that encourages participants to create reviews
  5. Allow comments on a readers’ advisory blog
  6. Set up a My Library Idea website à la My Starbucks Idea
  7. Survey both library staff and library members on “bests” for the year and share both staff and user results (Sample questions: Best Book of the Year, Best New Author, Best Children’s Book, Best Cookbook, Best Local Guidebook, etc.)

And one more idea: keep track on developments with BiblioCommons.