Who Moved My Library?

Commentary on the changing world of libraries, from the viewpoint of a corporate library.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Concept Mapping Technology - Tool to create HTML pathfinders?

One of the assignments for my Knowledge Management class was a knowledge map. A knowledge map is a tangible representation or catalog of the concepts and relationships of knowledge. A knowledge map is a navigational aid that enables the user to find the desired concept and then retrieve relevant knowledge sources.

The limitations of my drawing skills combined with the fact that I knew that there had to be a program that could create a map led me to search for such a beast. My hunt was fruitful with the discovery of Cmap Tools. The software is free to download and it's SUPER easy to use. I created a map illustrating the flow of knowledge in my organization.

The use for this software is limited only by your imagination. A fellow classmate also discovered Cmap and created several maps that resembled pathfinders. Each map represented a task: How to find this or do that. Within nodes she linked documents and websites in a flowchart format (I didn't get nearly that advanced, nor did I realize that the maps COULD get that advanced. Thanks Deb!). In Deb's example, if someone was looking for a resource they could follow the map (aided by embedded links) and find what they were looking for.

Cmap software also allows for exporting the map to a webpage. You can then take that map and put it up on the internet or an intranet for others to use. I think this would be a great tool for publishing easy to use and gorgeous pathfinders for public or academic libraries.

Potential uses of Cmaps:
  • Pathfinders of all sorts (How to search the web, How to find government information)
  • Map staff knowledge (Marion has extensive patent knowledge, Leo is an expert searcher of our business databases)
  • Map best practices for staff use (When a patron asks for ___ ask them this question, if you get this answer go to these resources, if they want more go here...)
  • Map capabilities of licensed software/databases (Ovid can do this and that, use OCLC for that and this)
  • Create Reader's Advisories for popular authors (A map for Tom Clancy could direct readers who liked one of his books or series to other great reads with actual links to the books in the OPAC)
Try them and let me know if you think of other uses to add to this list.

Monday, October 24, 2005

A little about special libraries, for those who were wondering.

I work in a special library. For those that think every library is special I’ll clarify: I work in a corporate library. The nice thing about special libraries is they don’t have to deal with the general public and the trials and tribulations of public librarianship (as evidenced in the Libraries for Dummies blog). However, special libraries do have special populations that come with their own special issues. What special issues, you ask?

User groups served by special libraries have quite focused information needs. This requires a need for unique subject knowledge. Special librarians need to stay abreast of developments in the library world as well as in the organization’s area of expertise.

Libraries are cost centers. They do not typically generate revenue. In a corporate culture, where everything comes down to maximizing shareholder’s value, libraries must continually provide evidence of a return on their investments. Libraries that don’t do this successfully are doomed to extinction.

Market, market, market. Special libraries, like most other libraries, struggle with marketing. Where this gets tricky for the special library is how to market your services and to whom. Do you market to the decision makers (which could possibly influence the library’s budget and operations)? Do you market to the user groups? Do you market to all user groups the same or sub-divide them and only market to certain subgroups? Alright so marketing a special library isn’t that different from a public library.

If you want more information about special libraries you can visit SLA. There’s a wealth of information there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

RSS Feeds Part 2

I feel like the kid who's starting at a new school mid-year - I'm just now catching up with the rest of the class.

I've been using feeds for blogs for a day now and have already found improvements to my strategy. I downloaded FeedReader and while I liked the software the limitations were that you could only use it on the machine that you downloaded it to. Students will agree that portability is very important (I can't be the only one doing homework on the fly).

Today I've discovered Bloglines. You can register for free and load any kind of XML feed into "My Feeds." You can set up folders for different kinds of feeds you're reading (I have "news, entertainment news, fun stuff, library things" folders, among others) to categorize your interests. You can even make your feeds public. Here's a link to my feeds.

The beauty of Bloglines is that you can login to read your feeds from ANY computer anywhere. If you're like me and reading more and more blogs lately you should try it. You'll like it!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Google Librarian Newsletter?

Speaking of feeds and staying current, Google has announced a new quarterly newsletter just for librarians. You can subscribe here.

Here's a link to the post in ResourceShelf where I found this tidbit.

RSS Feeds and Blogs

I have been investigating different ways to stay up-to-date with the many blogs I am now reading. One way to do this is with an RSS feeder. I think I have it figured out so I’m going to walk you through it so you can use one too.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication,” You can read more about RSS at How Stuff Works, Wikipedia, XML.com. Essentially you can download a program, load different “feeds” of blogs in to the program and then use the feeder software to read the newest entries on your favorite blogs.

There are many different readers available: SharpReader, NewsGator, NetNewsWire, FeedDemon, RSSbandit, Shrook, and FeedReader are a few. I downloaded FeedReader because it was said to be the easiest to use and it was free. I tried to figure out the RSS feeder that came with Mozilla’s FireFox browser but I couldn’t.

Anyway, all I have to do is locate the XML RSS Feed URL on any blog (I haven’t been able to figure out why some have one and others don’t – is that an option for the author?) and add the feed to FeedReader. The look and feel of FeedReader is similar to Outlook mail. Now I can see which blogs have new entries that I haven’t read and I can read each entry like I read email messages.

So far I’m liking it, I’m liking it a lot!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Why blogging is so difficult

I've been fretting over this blogging thing and I've finally identified the source of my discomfort: low self-esteem/insecurities. If you're uncomfortable with yourself, your ideas, your viewpoints how can you POSSIBLY be confident enough to put it all out there for anyone to read?

Blogging requires a level of confidence in oneself that I struggle with. In my view, bloggers (at least good bloggers) are confident in their writing and confident in their ability to contribute something valuable to their various communities.

I need to build my confidence in order to fully embrace this blogging thing.

This entry is not an attempt to solicit compliments. I simply wanted to put it out there in case I wasn't alone.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Searching for blogs and blog entries

In trying to put some posts together I've used Clusty to search. Clusty is a meta search engine that utilizes clustering technology to group like search results together which enables users to go futher and deeper into their search results. Clusty has an option to search Blogs that has been very helpful for me. Clustering really is the wave of search technology future!

Much Delayed Blogging post

I have been reading ResourceShelf for several years now. However, it wasn't until recently that I discovered it was a blog. I write a monthly "tip" for our employee newsletter and so far 90% of my tips have come from information found on ResourcesShelf. Gary Price is the "compiler" and "editor." Gary is assisted by several other editors and the content is fabulously diverse appealing to many different kinds of librarians.