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Author Archive | Don Hawkins

Author Book Signing in the Exhibit Hall

ITI Authors

ITI Authors

The Monday evening reception in the Exhibit Hall featured appearances by five authors of books recently published by Information Today.  They are shown in the photo above, with their books: (L-R) David Lee King (Face 2 Face and Designing the Digital Experience), Don Hawkins (Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage), Michael Gruenberg (Buying and Selling Information), Amy Affelt (The Accidental Data Scientist), and Cheryl Peltier-Davis (The Cybrarian’s Web, Parts 1 and 2).  Purchasing information on all these books is available on the Books section of the ITI website.

Don Hawkins
Conference Blogger

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Creating GREAT Content

Jeff Wisnewski

Jeff Wisnewski

Jeff Wisnewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh told us how to create compelling and interesting content.  You must recognize that your website is only a small piece of a very large landscape.  Nevertheless, it must all harmonize and be deployed strategically using appropriate platforms, and it must tell a story, entertain, inform, and, most importantly, engage its audience. Engagement is the degree to which a user responds positively to, feels trust towards, and has a connection to your library, its people, and its products and services.

Be strategic about your content: review high-level goals for your library, identify the segments of your community that each goal pertains to, and define some key demographics of these audiences. Have a map for your content; a “content calendar” is helpful to define what you will be talking about, the channels you will be using, the keywords of the concepts, who are the target personas, and what are you asking readers to do.

Great content is at the intersection of what the library is trying to accomplish, the interests of the users, and its time significance.

Great Content

Great Content

Being strategic with content takes additional effort.  Why bother?

  • If you deliver consistent, ongoing, engaging valuable information to your users, they ultimately will reward you with their loyalty, which is vital. When the time comes to vote on funding issues for the library, loyalty is very nice to have.
  • Applying this strategic framework to content puts you in a better position to say yes to things that fit into the strategy, and to sometimes say no when it is appropriate.

Your content and communications must be strategic. You must know your audience well. Track FAQs, reference questions, website questions; check site search query logs; use Google Suggest to see what people are searching for; and follow conversations on social media sites (especially those of your target groups).

Create and use personas from research on your users. (See Joanna Wdizer’s talk for details about personas.)  The research should reveal affinities and allow you to create sketches of actual people in your community; sometimes additional research will be necessary to validate the personas. Generally, 5 to 7 personas will produce useful results that can be used during discussions of the libraries’ products and services. Have the “person” in the room with you so you can speak through them to discuss how they will interact with the library’s services; what are their “top of mind” issues; and what content would he/she find interesting, useful, or engaging.  In this way, you are not talking about what you think or what the director thinks, but what the actual users think. The match the demographic with delivery channels and decide which are appropriate for you to use for your library’s, and make it easy to move content in and out of your website.

Don Hawkins
Conference Blogger

 

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The E-Book Effect in Communities

(L-R) Elizabeth Phillippi, Monica Babaian, Robert Cagna

(L-R) Elizabeth Phillippi, Monica Babaian, Robert Cagna

Liz Phillippi, Manager, Library Media Services at in the Houston School District, began the session by discussing a pilot program proposed by MyON, an e-book platform for K-12 grades, that was conducted for students when they were out of school during the summer.  MyON tracks the number of books read and number of minutes spent reading (clicking quickly through the book does not count as reading it!).  MyON is easily used on several devices and platforms and is graphics-based, which makes it easy to use for all readers.

Flyers and reading logs with MyON information and contact information were sent to students’ homes, and a webpage describing the summer reading program was created. Contact in any program like this is key; it is important to be sure that summer school teachers knew about the program and access, and the department phone number (which resulted in several hundred calls over the summer).

Results: Students read over 90,000 books during the summer.  Responsive vendor representatives were a huge plus for the program. Media specialists “championed” the program, and incentives for the most books read and the most time spent reading (some second graders spent over 500 hours reading!). Because of the rewards and benefits from the program were so good, the partnership with MyON was continued during the school year.

Here are some second graders accessing the program in a school library:

Second Graders

Second Graders Accessing E-books in a School Library

Monica Babaian, an elementary librarian in the Houston School District, described how she ran the MyON program at her school.  She had many reluctant readers below grade level.  The program resulted in an increase in student reading interest; students explored new genres; and teachers valued access to the tracking data. She introduced the program during library lessons to make it as non-intimidating as possible, and trained teachers and students. Students could customize their profile and create their own lists of books they wanted to read. Students rated and reviewed books and shared their thoughts within the school; book quizzes are available for testing comprehension.

Unique features of MyON include:

  • Personalization,
  • Professional narration
  • Student engagement through reviews and tools,
  • Feedback between teacher and student, and
  • A wealth of data available for teachers and administrators.

Robert Cagna, Library Director,West Virginia University, Charleston Health Sciences Library discussed the history of e-books and what is good and what is problematic about them. The “old” ways of getting a book (bookstore, from teachers, etc.) are still in use, but now we have new methods of access.  Some of the benefits include portability, access, price,

He used “The Fabrica” by Andreas Vesalius, which changed the history of medicine 500 years ago, as an example of the development of a book and the many ways it can be accessed now.  Vesalius was a physician in Brussels who lived in the 1500s. “The Fabrica” was his masterpiece.  Free versions are now available as a free scan on Google Books, as well as a preview of an English translation.  It is also available in NLM’s Turning the Pages Online.  A preview of the 500th anniversary edition is also available.  Many other versions are also available, even on Facebook and Twitter (even though Vesalius has been dead for 500 years!).

Despite all these editions, we do lose something with e-books, as these photos show.

What Do We Lose With E-books--1

What Do We Lose With E-books

What Do We Lose with E-books -2

What Do We Lose with E-books

So librarians must be careful when recommending e-books to their students.

Cagna’s talk contained many useful URLs; click here to see his slides.

Don Hawkins
Conference Blogger

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Exhibit Hall Opening

This Way to the Exhibits

This Way to the Exhibits

The CIL 2015 exhibit hall opened this morning (a welcome schedule change given that it will be open for only the first two days) to a good crowd. Here are a few photos of the event:

Exhibit Hall Opening

Exhibit Hall Opening

The Internet Access Station--Always Popular

The Internet Access Station–Always Popular

The Information Today Booth Featured the Yellow Theme

The Information Today Booth Featured the Yellow Theme

The Ultimate Scanning Machine

The Ultimate Scanning Machine

Lunch in the Exhibit Hall

A New and Appreciated Feature–Lunch in the Exhibit Hall. No more rushing out to find a place to eat!

Don Hawkins
Conference Blogger

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New Graph Searching

New Graph  Searching

New Graph Searching

Greg Notess, Team Leader at Montana State University and author of Search Engine Showdown noted that a huge transition in web search is occurring: searching keywords and matching words on a page is moving to a focus on the semantic web and an emphasis on presenting more direct results instead of lists of abstracts, like this one for the hours of the National Air & Space Museum.

Typical Knowledge Graph

Typical Knowledge Graph

Google describes this as a knowledge graph of real-world things and connections to give more meaningful results to users. Sources of knowledge graph information include Wikipedia, Freebase, DBPedia, structured data, and Google search data. Knowledge graphs generally appear on the right side of the screen.

Carousel

Carousel

Sometimes a carousel appears that shows related topics (see above illustration).  The appearance of the carousel depends on the search and the country where the searcher is located. Bing has similar displays and data sources.

Graph searching originated with a 2001 proposal in Scientific American by Tim Berners-Lee who proposed that structured documents read by software would create a “web of data”. The web originated with unstructured data, but now there is a much higher incentive to structure data for the web.

Other systems employing graph searching include Wolfram Alpha and Microsoft Office Delve.  Since it is part of the Office platform, Delve allows users to use graph searching on their own documents. (Facebook used to have graph search, but it is no longer available.) Structured graphing requires links to related data; schema.org is a markup system used by Bing, Google, Yahoo!, and Yandex that is used to create the display. Creative works, embedded non-text objects, events, organizations, places, and similar data can be tagged using schema.org.  Google’s Guide for Developers describes some opportunities for structured data, a tool for testing the data by showing the markup, as well as examples of promoting events and customizing your knowledge graph. When a site changes, the knowledge graph can adapt, and errors can be corrected.

Sometimes one does not see the knowledge graph, simply the answer to a question. Google calls these “Quick Answers”. See moz.com/blog/how-we-fixed-the-internet for an example of how answers can be changed. In about 25% of the answers, there is no attribution to the data source. The knowledge graph results are sometimes also pulled into the inline results, but condensing knowledge sometimes creates interesting situations that can be hard to interpret. The best way to check the accuracy of the retrieved information is to use data for which the correct answer is known by the searcher.

Google is moving into medical information and has hired licensed illustrators to develop images for the knowledge graphs. The medical information includes typical symptoms, treatments, frequency of occurrence, and ages affected.  It is also building “knowledge vaults”, which may be the next generation of knowledge graphs. Its knowledge vault is built from 1.6 billion facts in its database, of which 271 million are described as “confident facts with more than a 90% chance of being true”. However, Greg noted that this statement should give librarians pause as to the overall accuracy of the information from the knowledge vault in search results. Google has published a recent research paper on the technique to automate the identification of factually accurate websites.

Knowledge graphs are a relatively recent innovation, so we can expect to see their further development and growth.

Don Hawkins
Conference Blogger

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Data-Driven Personas

Joanna Widzer

Joanna Widzer

Joanna Widzer, Systems Librarian at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), described how NLM used data -driven personas in the selection of a new content management system (CMS). She began by reviewing the characteristics of personas, fictional characters that are realistic, evidence-based, goal-driven, and designed to encourage discussion. They are a tool for improving the user experience. They are not a list of statistics about users (demographics aren’t enough), an entire audience in one character, a guarantee of success, the sole driver of your program, made up, or ghosts.

Personas are useful when you do not know who your users are. They help to bring users to life and help drive decisions about how to design products, and they also help to keep the user at the center of the decision process. Uses for personas include fixing issues with products and improving them, developing scripts for usability testing and selecting participants in studies, and resolving disputes among the developers and management (i.e. eliminating office politics). Features of personas include a name, photo, narrative description, use case ( to put character in situation with product), quote, motivations for use, and pain points

NLM’s website had 25,000 pages and  about 85 web contributors. A new CMS was needed, so they created some personas. Here is one of them that illustrates typical persona.  It was named Catarina.

Typical Persona

Typical Persona

To create the persona, the developers used system data, help tickets, emails, and analytics. They included qualitative data from interviews and surveys and interviews with stakeholders (content managers, the web team, and developers). and developed core questions to formulate a picture of the persona. They especially wanted to include top tasks the user would need to perform and emotional reactions to the product. A team was assembled in a conference room with a whiteboard to develop questions, involve some staff,  and figure out goals, which led to the final creation of the persona.

Don Hawkins
Conference Blogger

 

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