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Mobile Trends and Practices

Chanitra Bishop

Chanitra Bishop, a librarian at Indiana University said that location-based mobile networks are growing in popularity.  Information sent to a user’s mobile device based on location allows targeted marketed messages to be sent to users in a specific geographic location.  For example, businesses can send out coupons or provide deals to people in the area.  Two of the primary systems used are Foursquare and Yelp.

Foursquare is not a ballgame!  It allows you to check in at a location, list things to do, find out what friends are doing, and learn about events, restaurants, etc.  It is the most popular location-based social network and has over 205,000 users worldwide. Foursquare grew over 3400% in 2010.  If you use Foursquare, you must realize that you are broadcasting where you are, and you might not want to reveal that.  Users can add tips, comments, connect with Twitter and Facebook, and comment on what friends are doing.  Foursquare is also a game with “badges”, a “mayor” of a location, points and a “leaderboard”.  You can claim your location, add new location (like within your library) and run promotions

Library applications include giving a virtual tour of the library by setting up locations in the library.  You can reward the mayor of the location with a prize, do promotions based on locations (such as a particular area in the library), and add tips, descriptions, photos, and tags.

Jason Clark from Montana State University continued the theme, noting that location is a metric of interest.  He quoted a product manager from Google who said that about half of the queries on Google have a geographic component.

Here are some possible library applications of location-based systems:

  • Mapping data.  For example, see this map of research locations discussed in theses submitted to the university.
  • Promote your place using check-in features of location-based networks.  See the National Archives on Foursquare for an example.  The Darien, CT and Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore are also using check-in services.
  • Local interest applications–such as the walking tours done by the University of North Carolina, or the San Jose Public Library.
  • Google Earth can be used to create interactive maps and embed them on a site.
  • You can also create a cultural snapshot of a place; for example WorldCat Local can find your location and then present relevant books or videos.

To get started with these systems, choose data with location interest and record its latitude and longitude using any one of a number of available systems for doing this.  Then “reverse geocode” it to translate the location on a map into a human-readable place name which can then be displayed on an appropriate device.  The Location Awhere blog is a good source for further information.



Recreating the Information World: Dead and Innovative Technologies

This year’s famous and popular Tuesday evening session on dead and innovative technologies focused on re-creating the information world.  A panel of leading experts gave their ideas in rapid-fire.

The Dead & Innovative Technologies Panel: (L-R) Bill Spence, Aaron Schmidt, Amanda Etches-Johnson, Marshall Breeding, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Stephen Abram. (In front) D. Scott Brandt, Moderator (Photo by Kathy Dempsey)

Aaron Schmidt said that even if the information world were recreated, some people would still want to be gatekeepers, which is a myth because gatekeepers have disappeared.  He suggested that a recreated library’s website might look like this:

A Recreated Library's Home Page?

He noted that our downloadable materials are not easy to administer, and we have not been able to rely on content for a long time.  We need to concentrate on what we’re excellent at and look at our users.  Some libraries are even opening without books!

We do many things well, like storage or video games.  Libraries can be important in a community as a place for people to create and meet.  We have good content that users can remix.  We are community publishers–we have expertise and should have tools to make our users’ material better.  Libraries can solve problems.  We should be the  community experts who can help.

Amanda Etches-Johnson wondered if libraries didn’t exist today, would we invent them?  What do we really know about the digital scholar?  They may be perennially connected, but they really do not read the web; they scan it.

Here is a danger sign for libraries.

We are inventing academic libraries every day, but are we inventing the right libraries with the right characteristics:  a good user experience, beautiful data and personalization, APIs, and platforms. The right library is built on the principles of universal design.  It must have an open access mandate.  How do we get information to users, not users to information?

Bill Spence noted that many good ideas of the past failed, but they are returning: the idea that everybody should have a website, and every user in a social network.

Marshall breeding said that we must get to something more better than library OPACs–a comprehensive library destination.  Federated search and integrated library systems must die; there are systems available that can manage both print and electronic resources.  Here is Marshall’s suggested library management model:

New Library Management Model

We must think about the web in more sophisticated ways.  It was meant to be social and collaborative all along, not just since the inauguration of Web 2.0.

Sarah Houghton-Jan focused on one technology that must die:  Digital Rights Management (DRM).  She said that copyright and bad licensing agreements have fueled its spread.  Some people think that DRM is the result of copyright law changes, but this is not true.  The law did not change; the publishers did.  DRM is anti-consumer and anti-library, discriminatory.  It doesn’t prevent piracy, increases costs, and endangers preservation.  It acts like a tariff on the free exchange of information.

So what do we do?  According to Sarah, we don’t own any of the DRM content, so we can just say no to publishers.  We can vote with our money,  say no to content with DRM and yes to DRM-free content, and catalog Creative Commons-licensed content.  We can say yes to community-created content.  Why aren’t we publishing the what our local communities are building?  Why is all the digital content in our libraries only available to a small segment of our users?

Steve Abram wrapped up the session with a look at technologies that help us create and recreate things.  He noted that this afternoon, the court rejected Google’s Book Settlement with publishers.  But Google also got a patent for Google Doodles (changes made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays and other events) this afternoon.

Are we going to open our mouths this time or let them do it again?  What is coming at us in libraries?  Abram has an issue with somebody saying a device vendor allows it to control what a user does with it.  Can we find our voice again?  We are a multi-billion dollar market.  Do we collaborate?  Do we work together and get ahead?  This is a transformational time for libraries.  Start thinking more strategically.  Figure out what the big issues are.  We are little as individuals, but big as collaborators.  Why haven’t we collaborated?  Do we think putting a mouse on top of everything will fix our problems?  We have some flaws; how do we get over them?  Why are we referring people to Google when thousands of articles giving misleading information are added every day ?

It is too risky not to be different in this economy.  We must differentiate ourselves.

As usual, there were lots of laughs in the session, but there was lots of food for thought and good information as well.  (And the cookies offered as refreshments were delicious!)


MetaSocial Rocks!

David Lee King

David Lee King coined the term “metasocial” to describe the types of social interactions available.  Despite the seeming proliferation of activities done by users, there really are only a few general types of interactions:

  • Status updates–you can type in anything like marketing questions, retweets, hyperlinks, multimedia thru links and have real connections to your customers.
  • Long posts–blogs, Facebook notes, wikis, etc.  These are like a short article such as what’s happening in the library, interesting events.
  • Comments–a primary way to interact online–direct connections.  Used for adding bits to a story.
  • Visual–photos and videos.   These are a way to extend an event to lots more attendees.
  • Live streaming videos of what’s going on.  Capture moments at they happen and share them.
  • Friending and subscribing–becoming a fan of something to get special content and alerts.
  • Checking in–location-based material on Foursquare, Yelp, etc.  Share where you go and visit.
  • Informal quick things–poking, digg it, ratings, liking, etc.

What should you be doing in social media?

  • Stop!  Make some strategy and create some goals.  What content will you put there?  Who is going to do the work?  What happens if it gets busy?  What if somebody responds?
  • Listen to see what people are saying about you and interact.  See how they say it.  Figure out the lay of the land in each network.  Listen by setting up Google Alerts.
  • Let people friend you and friend them back.  Focus on people living in your service area.  Follow your customers first.
  • Start conversations–provide status updates.  Invite responses by asking for them.  “What do you think?” “Who is your favorite author?”  etc.  Answer questions.
  • Treat your mayor!  Find ways to involve people.

Customers love social media.  They’re waiting for someone to start a conversation.  That person is you!

Sarah Houghton-Jan and Nate Hill described how they used social media to create local history walking tours in San Jose.  Lots of material is in the library but people don’t know about it because it’s locked away in cabinets.  The walking tour system is a play on augmented reality a device with GPS, a camera, and an accelerometer.  It presents data connected to spaces–a digital view of a physical world connected with objects in a physical world.

The local history tours in San Jose are a mobile web application based on the Layar reality browser.  The project was funded by a grant from the California State Library.  It was modeled after similar campus tours done at North Carolina State University (the Wolf Walk) and Oregon State.

Users navigate to a stop on the tour, check out a photo, read more, then get directions to next stop.  They are also able to leave a comment.  Google gives the walking directions to the next stop based on the current position, or a map.

Challenges included  configuring a server; testing difficulties; firewall and security concerns; and getting samples of devices for testing.


Lee Rainie Talks About Adding Value

Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Internet Project, gave this morning’s keynote address, advising attendees on how libraries can add value to communities. He wowed the audience when he said he’s paying back the library love he’s received.


He then talked about the three revolutions Pew has identified in its longitudinal surveys. The first is about internet and broadband. Pew found a sharp increase in adoption rates of both internet and broadband technologies up until 2007 when it started to level out.


The second revolution concerns wireless connectivity, by which he meant both mobile phones and connecting wirelessly on laptops. He noted age differences in cell phone adoption and their increasing use as social tools for sharing photos and videos, accessing social networking sites, and some limited use of location-based technology. Pew statistics on apps reveal that, even when people have apps, they don’t always use them because they haven’t figured it out. Rainie made distinctions between questions best answered on the net (who, what, where, when) and those best answered by databases (how and why).


The third revolution is in social networking. The demographics of people using social networks is increasingly diverse. With ubiquitous mobility and pervasive awareness of what other people are doing comes the fear of missing out.


What do these revolutions mean to librarians? Our expertise in teaching others about technology is badly needed. The library as place becomes library as placeless resource as we go to people rather than having people come to the library. Librarians add value by helping people navigate among information sources and technologies, by understanding context, and by providing quiet space (Rainie referred to this as “sanctuary”). Librarians can be embedded in peoples’ networks and serve as nodes in social media.


Rainie ended his talk by delineating some cosmic values that libraries add. Teach new literacy skills, including screen literacy, navigation literacy, and context literacy. Encourage skepticism and contemplative time. Explain how to create content. Above all, consider ethical behavior in this new world. Rainie’s other cosmic value concerned how librarians can help fill in civic gaps.

Lee Rainie talks about where libraries can add value


Librarians must rely on their wits. Our new constituencies require different types of information delivered in new ways. From the tenor of his talk, it’s apparent that Lee Rainie remains a strong advocate of librarians, recognizing their technical savvy and their moral stances. He is, indeed, sharing the love.