It may be the end, but it’s really just the beginning – Evaluative Report

Part a) Provides evidence, through three OLJ postings, of the advancements I’ve made in becoming an effective information professional in a socially networked world, and the knowledge I have gained, through meeting the five learning objectives:

Whilst I had used some social networking (SN) technologies in my personal life prior to INF506, it’s only since studying the modules, reading selected recommended resources, immersing myself in various learning tasks, and entering into discussions via SN sites, that I have fully grasped the importance of social networking in the workplace, and become aware of how it is fast becoming an integral part of many aspects of our lives as we create, share, interact with, and re-use information online (Hay, 2010).

As I believe my OLJ entries demonstrate, I am also now familiar with a far wider range of SN technologies, and their applications in various settings, including public libraries. Why libraries should use social networking (OLJ1) provided the opportunity to examine how three public libraries are exploring new ways to interact, engage with, and support their user communities, and attract new users, by using a range of SN tools, including publication and micropublication tools (blogs and Twitter), sharing tools (the social media sites YouTube and Flickr), and SN sites (Facebook and MySpace) (Cavazza, 2008). In this way they are embracing the library 2.0 ethos of trying to meet users changing needs via Web 2.0 technology (Casey & Savastinuk, 2007).

The libraries are using SN in different ways to support their user communities and meet their needs. One library in particular, AADL, has created opportunities for its users to customize content (Casey, 2005) by enabling them to tag catalogue items and post reviews, in addition to its numerous blogs inviting comments. This concept of user-tagging is also examined in a separate posting, which looks at the benefits to an institution of harnessing the wisdom of the crowd, and in particular, its use by cultural heritage institutions to support their digitisation programs through the photo-sharing site Flickr Commons. The common theme being used by the three public libraries and the cultural heritage institutions is that instead of waiting for users to come to them either physically or via their website, they are using SN to go to where the users are (Miller, 2005), helping to promote and increase awareness of the institution. What works for one institution may not work for another, however, and libraries should ensure that any tools are installed because they relate to user needs, as also discussed in my A-Z of social networking posting, and not because they’re the latest innovation (Farkas, 2008).

I’ve had the opportunity to explore a number of SN tools new to me, and in entering a whole new world, part I (OLJ2) I examined the virtual world platform, Second Life. Via an avatar, I learnt how effective such a virtual world can be in enabling people from across the globe to meet, interact, share information, collaborate and learn from each other. It was particularly useful, as I documented, to examine how some of the features could support the information needs of employees and patrons in a learning environment in the real world, in this case an academic library, and to then actually experience how well the visual context element of a virtual world works for interacting and being part of a group (Zhang, 2007) when meeting conference attendees at the Joykaydia Unconference 2010 launch, although trying to control an avatar in a social situation is not without its problems. It has been immensely satisfying to explore a SN tool, of which I had no previous knowledge, and understand ways in which, as an information professional, I could apply it in future.

Whilst SN has enabled people to communicate and share information like never before, it has been important to realise that this hasn’t come without a cost. The whole issue of privacy, for example, can have huge repercussions as now anyone can post comments and opinions about virtually anyone and anything on the Internet (Fraser & Dutta, 2008). Being a member of the INF506 Facebook group, a socially networked community that has shared resources and opinions, has supplemented the course modules, and helped greatly in my understanding of a number these issues, which I have attempted to distill into my social media policy (OLJ3) entry. Ranging from the very topical Facebook privacy settings debate, to blogging etiquette, my new found knowledge in this area will benefit me greatly as an information professional.

I believe I have met the learning objectives of this course, as demonstrated above, not only by successfully working through the modules, but by being part of a group that has taken the principles of social networking to heart and enabled us to learn from each other.

Part b) How have I developed as a social networker as a result of studying INF506 and what are the implications for my development as an information professional?

When I left the workplace over five years ago, many of the social networking (SN) technologies and tools we know today were only available in niche markets, if at all, so when I rejoin some day soon as a newly created information professional, and meet the SN explosion head on (and 540 millions Facebook users certainly is an explosion), I’ll at least feel better-equipped to meet the challenges of this Web 2.0 world, with the insights I’ve gained into how SN can enhance all areas of the workplace, along with the numerous issues that surround it.

Like many SN users, I’d previously only used a limited range of SN in my personal life mainly because my friends were on it, and because I wanted to network and re-connect with people (De Rosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk & Jenkins, 2007). Through this course I’ve had the opportunity to explore and trial a number of useful new tools and technologies (including Second Life, blogging, photo-sharing, being a group member on a SN site, slide-sharing, Pageflakes, and user-tagging). In common with so many libraries who are having to change and adapt in this Web 2.0 world, I too, as a tail-end baby boomer, am adapting and embracing the opportunities (and challenges) that SN has to offer, and believe I have developed considerably as a social networker. I’m well aware, however, that this is very much on-going and that I must continue to invest time and effort into becoming more familiar with a wide range of SN applications.

The social experience of actively participating in Facebook discussions, sharing information via tweets and highlighting useful resources through social bookmarking on Delicious, has contributed greatly to my enjoyment of the course and again my development as a social networker. Being ‘social’ in social networking and participating and sharing (Cavazza, 2008) is key, and I agree with Amy Bax (2009) that SN ‘is only as valuable as the amount of effort you want to put into it’. I believe our postings successfully demonstrate the benefits and knowledge that can be gained by connecting a group of people with a shared interest to create an online community and providing them with various tools with which to share links or other information, have conversations, and to collaborate, i.e., the 4C’s of Web 2.0 (Mootee, 2008).

Becoming a better social networker will help me become a better information professional. The benefits of using Twitter, for example, (Breeding, 2009) to quickly send and receive information, along with the ability to stay abreast of developments in certain fields by following those whose opinions you respect; and the use of a virtual world as an educational tool (The Horizon Report, 2007), and a means of networking, have been a revelation to me, and I hope that I can now capitalise on this new found knowledge in a professional capacity by using and promoting these tools on an ongoing basis. Continuing to explore and use the tools should give me confidence to join groups and network better, to join the conversation by commenting on posts and blogs, and in turn, to share my knowledge (Nielsen, 2008).

In hindsight I needed to manage my time better which would have allowed me to complete more immersive OLJ tasks thereby furthering my development even more. It was easy to be distracted by the copious number of links and resources recommended by the group. Remaining focused and being selective are qualities I must develop, and this will helped by the creation of an online personal learning network. This would include making better use of RSS feeds from trusted blogs and websites, and concentrating on developing social networks that will be useful both professionally and personally, to supplement my current social bookmarking activities (Smith, 2008; Utecht, 2008).

As an information professional I know that I need to continue to explore and experiment with SN, so I can be in a position to evaluate the suitability of various tools for particular user groups, as I am now well aware that not all will be appropriate for all situations (Harvey, 2009; Wee, 2010), and it’s what will satisfy the users that is important when offering an information service. Thanks to the course I’ve a better overall awareness of some of the implications of the widespread use of SN and the various issues surrounding certain tools, including the need, for example, for organisations to have a social media policy, but dependent on the field in which I eventually work, I’ll need to concentrate further on certain aspects if I’m to be fully effective in my role.

I’m impressed and excited by the opportunities offered by SN for individuals and organisations to inform and be informed, to teach, to network, to share, to connect and re-connect, and feel part of a community, however I’m also conscious of the need to still maintain relationships in the ‘real’ world with face-to face meetings and telephone conversations (Steckerl, 2007), and I hope that as an information professional I can find a good balance between the two in satisfying user needs.


Bax, A. (2009). Importance of social networking. Retrieved from

Breeding, M. (2009). Social networking strategies for professionals. Computers in Libraries, (October). Retrieved from

Casey, M. (2005). Working towards a definition of Library 2.0. Retrieved from

Casey, M., & Savastinuk, L. (2007). We know what Library 2.0 is and is not. Retrieved from

Cavazza, F. (2008). Social media landscape. Retrieved from

De Rosa, C., Cantrell, J., Havens, A., Hawk, J., & Jenkins, L. (2007). Sharing privacy and trust in our networked world: A report to the OCLC membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. [ebook] Retrieved from sharing.pdf

Farkas, M. (2008). The essence of library 2.0? Retrieved from

Fraser, M., & Dutta, S. (2008). Throwing sheep in the boardroom: How online social networking will transform your life, work and world. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Harvey, M. (2009). What does it mean to be a Science Librarian 2.0? Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, (Summer). Retrieved from

Hay, L. (2010). Social networking for information professionals [Session 1 1201030 Online Study Guide]. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University website:

Miller, P. (2005). Web 2.0: Building the new library. Ariadne, 45, 30 October. Retrieved from

Mootee, I. (2008). Web 2.0 and the 4 C’s. Retrieved from

Nielsen, L. (2008). Five things you can do to begin developing your personal learning network. Retrieved from

Smith, B. (2008). Creating an online personal network. Retrieved from

Steckerl, S. (2007). Survival guide: Online social networking. Retrieved from

The New Media Consortium & the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007). The Horizon Report, 2007 Edition. Retrieved from

Utecht, J. (2008). Stages of PLN adoption. Retrieved from

Wee, W. (2010). INFOGRAPHIC: Guide to the social media marketing landscape. Retrieved from

Zhang, J. (2007). Second Life: Hype or reality? Higher education in the virtual world. Retrieved from

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Entering a whole new virtual world, part II

One of the ideal characteristics of a Librarian 2.0 that came out of a FB group discussion was ‘courage’, and it was courage that took me to the launch party of the Jokaydia Unconference 2010 earlier today in Second Life (SL). Daunted at first, as my avatar manipulation skills still leave a lot to be desired, and lacking in confidence regarding my ability to converse about SL and its applications in the ‘real’ world, the other attendees soon put me at ease and I was able to use voice and text chat with the group and listen to some interesting discussions on using a virtual world platform in universities, even if at times it was a little distracting to have to follow the conversation via text and voice simultaneously. It was amazing to be talking with people as far away as Scotland and Sydney, as if we were all in the same room, which we were in a way, and it’s this ‘visual context’ that virtual worlds offer that can be such a benefit, for example, to distance education students, creating a sense of actually being in a real class together (Zhang, 2007).

Here I am  at the launch party (back to camera, middle of the shot)

As SL has developed over the last 6 years, it has become more attractive to educators (more than 100 educational institutions had signed up by 2007, (Joly, 2007)): because as (Kirriemuir, 2009) reports, there is no requirement for an additional server, an established community of ‘experienced practitioners’ is on hand, and a number of previously-created objects and structures can be obtained cheaply or free. But creating an effective virtual classroom is not too be taken lightly as overall it can be costly, not only in monetary terms, but in terms of time and human resources required to both set up and then maintain the facility (Joly, 2007).


Joly, K. (2007). A second life for higher education? University Business, (June). Retrieved from

Kirriemuir, J. (2009). Choosing virtual worlds for use in teaching and learning in UK higher education. Retrieved from

Zhang, J. (2007). Second Life: Hype or reality? Higher education in the virtual world. Retrieved from

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5 key points for a social media policy

David Olsen has just reported on a recent Australian survey finding that 1 in 5 people would refuse a job that bans Facebook. Workers who often work at home after hours want in return to access social media (SM) at work. If used responsibly SM shouldn’t be a major issue, and, as Dane Larson writes in a blog regarding the benefits of SM in the workplace, it encourages teambuilding, communication and collaboration, but it’s where a SM policy is now a real must for organisations.

I believe the following points are key in developing a policy regarding employees use of Web 2.0 tools and spaces for work and personal use whilst at work:

1.  Set expectations for behaviour – Boundaries should be set on what employees can and can’t do, and how they should behave, whether using SM for work or personal use in the workplace (Fleet, 2009); Hartshom, 2010), and the consequences of violating the policy. They need to be responsible for what they write (Lauby, 2009a), and respect others, including writing about colleagues only with their permission (Anderson, 2009). Copyright must be respected, including links to sources cited in a blog (Kroski, 2009).

2. Complying with organisation’s existing policies – This includes non-disclosure by employees of an organisation’s confidential information, in addition to anti-harassment policies, company ethics etc (Fleet, 2009; Lauby, 2009b, regardless of what type of SM is being used, and when and where it is being used (Flynn, 2009), as well as prohibiting the downloading of any illegal software or materials whilst in the workplace or using an organisation’s computer or network (Lotito, 2010).

3. Protect personal information – employees should be reminded to protect their privacy (Defren, 2009) and not disclose any information that might jeopardise their safety, or be used against them in any way.

4. Be transparent – employees should write under their own name and reveal their affiliation with their employer if their post mentions the organisation, or matters relating to it (Defren, 2009). A disclaimer should be added stating that the views expressed are the author’s own and not necessarily those of the organisation (Kroski, 2009).

5. Keep it short and simple – the policy needs to be easily understood by all employees (Dand, 2009), and as web 2.0 technology changes rapidly, be easy to update on a regular basis.


Flynn, N. (2009). The e-policy handbook (2nd ed.). New York: American Management Association.

Useful resources

Kodak’s social media tips: Useful document for organisations outlining the major types of social media, with social media tips from Kodak’s ‘chief blogger’ and the Kodak social media policy. Retrieved from

IBM social computing guidelines. Retrieved from

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Why libraries should use social networking

I have selected three public libraries that have embraced Web 2.0, Worthington Libraries (WL), Ann Arbor District Library (AADL), and Mosman Library (ML) to demonstrate Reasons why libraries should use social networking:

  • To share information – WL and AADL post job vacancies on Facebook pages. All three share photos on Flickr of library events. ML uses webcasts through the Vimeo platform to share author talks. AADL makes use of podcasts to share library talks and author interviews, and posts news, services and events in the local community on its community blog.
  • To promote events and services – WL promotes news, events and library services through Facebook and Twitter. AADL uses Facebook primarily to promote events, but it has numerous blogs that include services, events and exhibits, and library news. A presence on social media sites can also attract potential new users through serendipitous browsing who might otherwise be unaware of the library and what it offers (Houghton-Jan, Etches-Johnson & Schmidt, 2009).
  • To engage with users – all three post blogs that encourage user comments. This can lead to conversations, which in turn can provide valuable information about what users want (Burkhardt, 2009). AADL also encourages user to tag its collections and provide book reviews, giving users a sense of ‘ownership’ (Springer et al., 2008, pp. 35-36). WL has a number of children’s storytime videos on YouTube to help engage with the youngest members of their community.  Facebook, Twitter and blogs can also be used to good effect to solicit feedback from users.
  • To communicate – provides additional means of being in touch with patrons. Instant messaging and Facebook are how many young users in particular now communicate, so go where the users are (Burkhardt, 2009). WL has teen Facebook page, as does ML although neither has many fans (ML only 6, though a lack of library promotion of this site may have a bearing!). WL also uses MySpace to host its teen site, which includes a teen blog. WL offers a mobile interface for both its website and OPAC, as well as instant messaging.
  • To provide user-education – AADL has a research blog, which aims to provide information on a wide range of research tools.


Burkhardt, A. (2009). Four reasons libraries should be on social media. Retrieved from

Houghton-Jan, S., Etches-Johnson, A., & Schmidt, A. (2009). The read/write web and the future of library research. Journal of Library Administration, 49(4), 365-382. doi: 10.1080/01930820902832496

Springer, M., Dulabahn, B., Michel, P., Natanson, B., Reser, D., Woodward, D., et al. (2008). For the common good: The Library of Congress Flickr pilot project. Retrieved from

Further reading

Burkhardt, A. (2010). Social media: A guide for college and university libraries. College & Research Libraries News, 71,(1), 10-24. Retrieved from

Dempsey, L. (2009). Always on: Libraries in a world of permanent connectivity. First Monday, 14(1). Retrieved from

Rogers, C. R. (2009). Social media, libraries and web 2.0: How American libraries are using new tools for public relations and to attract new users – Second Survey November 2009. Retrieved from

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Harnessing the wisdom of the crowd

The two courses I’m currently studying (INF517 Digitisation and this INF506 Social Networking course) have most satisfyingly come together through the social media site Flickr, and in particular, a designated space known as The Commons, where a number of esteemed cultural heritage institutions, including the Library of Congress, and the National Maritime Museum, are uploading photographs from their digital historical image collections. They are turning to this social media platform to share selected photographs with the massive Flickr membership, thereby increasing awareness of their collections, but also to engage users with the images by encouraging participation in social classification – creating metadata by adding their own tags to describe the image, in addition to comments (Springer et al., 2008, p. iii). Other users can assign their own tags, collaborating to build a number of keywords ‘in the actual language of users’ to facilitate easier browsing and retrieval (Matusiak, 2006, p. 289). In many cases, the institutions have little information about the images, or a lack of time and resources to provide metadata, therefore drawing on the collective expertise of users, has enabled them to correct and update descriptions, and increase the likelihood of retrieval (Springer et al., 2008, p. iii).

So how are other libraries ‘using the crowd’ to enhance their collections? The National Library of Australia’s Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program uses crowd-sourcing to great effect with 9000+ volunteers involved in correcting electronically translated text. Rose Holley, the program’s manager, in her many hands make light work report finds that users are motivated by the ‘knowledge that they were helping other people’ and by ‘being able to make a small but effective contribution to the big picture’, demonstrating how a growing community of users have welcomed the opportunity to directly interact with the library’s resources and collaborate on a large-scale project. Here’s Mosman Library’s video of Rose discussing this program:

Many public libraries now offer a facility for user tagging, although a suitable tag for one user could offend others  as Mount Prospect Library has discovered. A library needs to tread a fine line between ensuring offensive tags are removed, but not over policing thereby discourage users from contributing. Jonathan Furner wrote an excellent paper on user tagging of library resources which discusses user tagging in some detail, including its benefits, considerations libraries should make before offering enabling users to share their tags, and criteria for evaluating the success or otherwise of this Library 2.0 tool.

And of course I shouldn’t forget to mention wikis, most notably wikipedia, which rely on a collective group collaborating to create and edit content on a vast scale. The more that participate, the better the wiki becomes (Fraser & Dutta, 2009).


Fraser, M., & Dutta, S. (2009). Throwing sheep in the boardroom: How online social networking will transform your life, work and world. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Furner, J. (2007). User tagging of library resources: Towards a framework for system evaluation. Paper presented at the World Library and Information Congress: 73rd IFLA General Congress and Council, 19-23 August, Duban, South Africa. Retrieved from

Matusiak, K.K. (2006). Towards user-centered indexing in digital image collections. OCLC Systems & Services: International Digital Library Perspectives, 22(4), pp.283-298.

Springer, M., Dulabahn, B., Michel, P., Natanson, B., Reser, D., Woodward, D., & Zinkham, H. (2008). For the common good: The Library of Congress Flickr pilot project. Retrieved from

Further reading

Wyatt, N. (2009). Redefining RA: The ideal tool. Library Journal, (15 October). Retrieved from

Tay, A. (2009). Libraries and crowdsourcing – 6 examples. Retrieved May 16, 2010 from

Posted in Library 2.0, Social networking, Social tagging | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Post-assignment musings…

Well one down and one to go. Just pressed the button and send Assignment 1 off, which is both a good and a scary thing as a) I’m relieved it’s done and out of the way, but b) I’ve the usual post-assignment niggling doubts about what I’ve written and whether it’s really up to scratch. I believe my paper, ‘Using social media to connect with prospective students and the lessons Qatar-based campuses can learn from their US counterparts: A case study (and a rather long mouthful) could have been  better if I had been able to look at both prospective AND current students, as was the original intention, but I simply couldn’t get it down to anywhere near the required word count… But what’s done is done, and time to move forward on my social networking learning curve.

I have to say that despite initial reservations, I am enjoying using Facebook as a vehicle for interacting with my INF506 classmates and feel it works better than the Interact forums. It’s definitely more social and personal which is a good thing for distance learners who all too often can feel very isolated and alone. Even just having a little thumbnail image of each member really helps. The majority of the group seems to have come together very well through the Facebook postings and there seems to be more willingness to share good articles, post tips, and generally provide support, than I’ve experienced in other courses. Yes, the 4cs of collaboration, conversation, content creation, and community are certainly alive and kicking, and it’s great to be actually experiencing a concept that we’re studying.

Some of the Library 2.0 things I’m having more of a problem with, simply because a) I’ve never working in a library or information agency, and b) I haven’t actually worked outside of the home for 4 years, so I’m having to fall back on everything I’ve read and studied over the past 3 years, to try and put myself in the shoes of a Librarian 2.0. I guess this is where Second Life could be very useful as I could meet and chat with all sorts of Librarians and Information Managers. I’m so impressed with Carole in our group, who appears to have really taken off with Second Life and had some amazing encounters and interactions. Methinks it’s time I got back in there…

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Putting the A-Z of social networking for libraries to work

How can AnnaLaura Brown’s A-Z of social networking for libraries be applied to a library I know to help it embrace a Library 2.0 ethos?

Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar Library currently serves 300 students, faculty and staff,  plus approximately 300 public patrons. The collection of nearly 50,000 volumes started in 2005 will increase by approx 10,000 annually until maximum capacity of 125,000 is met. Its online catalogue is shared with the university’s main campus library. Marketing and promotion tends to rely primarily on word of mouth. The current library website is functional but offers little in the way of Web 2.0 technologies, and no social media. So where to start to help this library embrace a Library 2.0 ethos to connect more fully with its users?

D- Direction. Before installing or applying any social networking (SN) tools, the library needs to be clear about how they will help it meet its goals. Will a Facebook fan page help attract new patrons, for example? What is also vital if it wants to embrace Library 2.0 is that the focus is user-centric, so it’s important to establish what the community wants and expects from interactions with its library before then installing the appropriate SN tools to help satisfy these user needs (Casey & Savastinuk , 2007).

Z-zeal. Now it needs to get all the library staff involved and excited about Web 2.0 and social networking. Offering the 23 Things program would be a good start.

Y- Youth. With a Higher Education Research Institute survey finding 94% of first-year university students visiting SN sites in any given week, the library must seriously consider using social networking to go where the users are. As Sophie Brookover notes in Library, connecting and interacting with students by using tools with which they are very comfortable, demonstrates an awareness of and participation in trends that matter to them.

B- Blog. Regular blogs from library staff on various subjects, eg., new title reviews, promoting new databases, and tips on searching, would provide an excellent way to communicate and share information with users. Social media consultant Victor Lavrusik observes that inviting users to comment starts conversations, an important component of Library 2.0.

G-Good Reads. A simple way of creating content and sharing information to provide an added service to readers. Even better, collaborate with users and get them to write reviews!

With just these 5 letters the library can take its first steps on the path to becoming a Library 2.0.

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