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For my final post, I’m straying a bit from a specific library’s use of mashups, to a mashup that can be (and undoubtedly is being) used by librarians the world over:  LibWorm.  As a future librarian, I feel there are so many good ideas “out there” on the ‘Net that could be of use to me in my professional career, but there are not enough hours in the day for me to effectively search for everything I could want.  So a search tool like LibWorm, a search engine for the “biblioblogosphere,” seemed especially useful when I first found it described on this page from the Talis competition.

Here’s its FAQ page, where it basically says it is meant to be a “professional development tool” and current-awareness helper for librarians or people interested in libraries.   How does it work?  As much as I can tell, it provides an RSS feed from RSS feeds.  (No, really!)  Currently it mashes together 1400+ feeds related to libraries (found from lists on existing wikis and constantly submitted by individual bloggers, so the list is growing) and adds a search interface; so librarians can search for terms, or look at categories, tags, or subjects that interest them.  Then when they find a particular category or combination of search terms that’s most useful for them, they can set up their own RSS feed to get that information delivered to them.  If I’m in a time-crunch (and who isn’t?), I like this already!

Obviously this isn’t linked to any specific library, so I can’t analyze how well it is tied into the library’s other services.  But I would imagine this type of service appeals to librarians (or those interested in libraries) who are already at least moderately tech-savvy (know what RSS is and how to set one up, though the homepage here also includes directions for that to help out newbies).  I could see myself using this once I get into a specific library role and want to be updated on podcasts in academic libraries, say, or Personnel/HR/Jobs (hey, maybe I should subscribe to that one now, can’t start looking for a job too early… ), or Humor for when the jobsearch gets depressing…

On the usability front, this website scores well on my card.  Its front page (screenshot to left) seems to have taken a tip from that search-meister Google and made its home page very clearly all about searching.  No ads at all (a pleasant surprise!), lots of white space so one’s eye clearly goes to the search box, a few links to the Feed Categories, Subjects, and Tags, but nothing that detracts from the search capabilities.

If one clicks on the categories or subjects, one gets displays like these two screenshots:

We get a few Ads by Google now (hey, nobody’s perfect), but other than that, the display is still very clean, with navigational links at the top and one-click access (the orange buttons) to set up the RSS feed.  Honestly, I can’t see how they could make it any easier.  Findability… well, that’s unfortunately a bit harder.  I found it from the Talis page, and on trying a couple Google searches, for “library blogs RSS” and “library biblioblogosphere” (I know, that term’s a stretch for the layperson to know), I didn’t see LibWorm in the first couple pages.  So it might be suffering from its newness, or whatever things Google’s algorithms consider.  But I really hope it becomes more findable, because it deserves it!

Another thing I like about LibWorm is that it seems rather international — when I searched for “mashups” I got this results page, with 3 results on the first page alone that looked like they were in Italian and Swedish (I’m guessing?), and almost certainly I would get more if I searched for a non-English word.  So this is a tool useful for international librarians or any interested non-English-speakers.  Speaking of the search results page, it again makes it easy for someone to set up an RSS feed into their own personal reader (it offers Google Reader, Newsgator, and Bloglines buttons), and it automatically sorts by date (though Relevance is also an option).

Overall, excellent layout, visual appeal, ease of use, and a very handy tool for busy librarians everywhere — what’s not to like!  What do you think?

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I’m going to be cheesy for a moment and say I think the public library featured in this post has got everything (or at least, its 2.0/broader social media strategies) going in the right direction!  Manchester (NH) city library, kudos to you.

I’m having difficulty figuring out where to start on this one:  I’ll start with where I found this one mentioned: Library Mashups, 2009, edited by Nicole Engard (there’s a link to the companion webpage in the left-hand column of this page), includes Chapter 6 by Lichen Rancourt who updated much of the Manchester City Library.  MCL actually has several sites, and I’ll start at the one I like best, their blogThey use WordPress (which does not affect the opinion of this WordPress-blogger), but it doesn’t really look like a classic WordPress page, for libraries who might not want to identify themselves as “just another WordPress blog”:  MCL has customized the display with a picture that looks like it’s from their library building, has tied in a Flickr photo badge that’s constantly changing and updating with the six most current photos posted on the library’s Flickr page (go here to look at their photostream page – what a wonderful way to show the real, welcoming, “human” side of the library!), has an RSS feed available for Upcoming Events, has links to their Facebook page, etc.  The blog practically serves as a homepage for the library itself, and I imagine many patrons may use it as such, because it also provides useful links to search the catalogue, login to renew books, pages with hours and directions (though when I checked, those two pages weren’t loading – are you working on that, Manchester?)

Then the blog also links to the library’s official homepage, which is hereIt still incorporates most of the Web 2.0, interactive parts of the blog, though a bit more “busy” and more formal-feeling than the blog, naturally, though they also incorporate images like the one at the top to show what makes this library unique.  The homepage incorporates current postings from the blog in the center, Flickr photo badge near the top, tweets in the photo at the very top (though the white text on the photo-background is hard to read; that could definitely be improved), current events in the right-hand column, and it adds book reviews (which it seems can be made by any user, and apparently the Book Reviews box automatically updates) in the left-hand column.

Regarding availability/findability, I didn’t explore if these sites are linked from elsewhere on the Manchester city page (though the main homepage definitely seems that way, and the two pages are very clearly linked to each other), but upon doing a basic Google search for “manchester nh library,” their two pages were the first two hits.  All of these items on both their pages are definitely an indication that MCL is working hard to create a strongly welcoming virtual presence, and I’d say they’re doing so rather successfully.  If I lived there, I would definitely check out their upcoming events and maybe even subscribe to the RSS.  It seems as well that MCL is constantly looking out for new things to add – in the lower-right-hand corner of the screenshot of the webpage (present on the blog too, though I closed it for that screenshot), one can see a little blue box saying “Trial of chat services – sorry, offline.”  Apparently I visited at the wrong time, but this clearly indicates that the library is trying to imbed its chat reference and thereby expand its Web 2.0 and interactive availability to patrons.

I love it!  Wonder if Manchester City Library would have any job openings in, say, a year and a half…?

I love, love, love this next entry.  Probably that’s because one of my favorite things to do for years and years has been simply to go into a library and browse.  Whether it’s my hometown library I’ve been going to since before I remember, or a new library in a new city, it’s just fun to look around and see what they’re displaying.  And often I like to browse for things I’ll not necessarily check out: I’ll visit the teen section – they have the most intriguing covers! (and OK, I’ll admit, I still like to read YA lit sometimes), even the children’s section – talk about a walk down memory lane! (and, totally unrelated, but doesn’t this page make you want to be a kid again so you have a reason to read all those books?!)

Anyway, the Book Carousel is basically a really snazzy-looking way to browse covers online.  The Cambridge, ON library developed it (hey, didn’t I mention them around here earlier?  Way to go, Cambridge, for continuing to develop your sensible Web 2.0 tools!).  On this New Materials page , click on the purple eye (or click the orange button to subscribe to an RSS of this genre — another nice Web 2.0-y way to update patrons who want it) to view a neat graphic display of book covers.  Each book cover (with title and author above) is linked to the catalogue record with more information (though it’s not obvious there’s a link there, until you hover your mouse over the cover).  One can scroll through all the covers available, in sets of four, by clicking the right or left arrow buttons – though the arrows were not immediately obvious to me the first time I looked at this service; Cambridge could improve this service by making those buttons more prominent.

For a public library with an interest in increasing people’s reading for pleasure and edification, this is a wonderful way to reach people who, because of schedules or time commitments, rarely set foot in the library.  Many library OPACs already allow people to do all kinds of library-related stuff from their home Internet connection – search for materials, place holds, renew items, etc.  Practically, people who just want reading or viewing material only have to set foot in a library to check them out.  But it’s widely known that cover art can add (or subtract) vastly from a book’s content and “shelf appeal” – why else would publishers spend so much time and effort on covers, as SFF author Laura Resnick writes about here?  The Cambridge library is logically building on its patrons’ knowledge and usage of the computerized-library, adding to its existing Web 2.0 tools, and it now can take advantage of that cover art and reproduce that felicitous library experience of browsing all those lovely book covers, on the web.

However, (my only gripe, I promise) for such a cool tool, it’s not the most obvious to find from their homepage.  On the day I visited their homepage (Dec. 2), I went to at least three or four other likely-seeming places before I found the right place, as I’ve pointed out on the screenshot.  The link to the New Materials page is in rather small print at the bottom of the page — shouldn’t we advertise your cool tool a little more?

(Thanks to Susie and the bulletin board postings at this website for links to this and a few other library mashups I’m featuring here – Talis sponsored a competition, Mashing Up the Library 2006, and that discussion board was where many posted their entries.  Unfortunately a lot of the links are defunct now, but look around if you’re curious.)