Thursday, June 26, 2008

ILS599 Final Project

The final project for ILS599 is to devise a Web 2.0 plan for a library. The Duxbury Free Library is currently in the process of upgrading its services to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies that our patrons could benefit from most. As reference librarian and “accidental techist”, I have been responsible for identifying needs and planning the implementation for these new services. The plan presented here is an actual representation of what is currently happening at the DFL.

Duxbury, Massachusetts is a town that expects a lot from local services. For the most part, members of this community are affluent, college educated, professional, liberal, and forward-thinking. They take an active part in community development and planning. Library usage is high. The children in this community are active in sports and artistic endeavors and perform well in school. The library is located on the public school campus, which also has playing fields, an indoor swimming and diving pool, and a recreation center. Historically our patrons are on the cutting edge of technology; they have the expendable income to purchase the latest gadgets. Our goal is to raise the technology level of the library to meet our patron’s need and desires by adding IM Reference service and two Flickr accounts.

IM Reference is an instant messaging service that will allow patrons real time internet access to the reference staff. A widget, or tool, will be put on the DFL webpage and patrons simply type their question in the text box, hit enter, and the message will show up on the screen at the reference desk at the library. Communication will continue in this way, with the librarian answering back from an instant messaging account set up for this purpose.

Flickr is a photo sharing application that puts pictures that the library chooses on the internet. Pictures, taken with a digital camera and downloaded onto a computer, are then uploaded into the Flickr account. After they are organized and labeled they are able to be viewed by the public from a link on the DFL webpage.

The duties of the full time reference librarian include the research and implementation of new technology for the library. Any staff time spent on these endeavors is therefore “free” of additional charge to the library.

Reference statistics prove that our patrons are using the electronic databases frequently with an average of 10,000 searches a year; in person visits average over 30,000 a year. Although the DFL already has a large user-ship for its current reference services, the addition of IM reference will open the door for a new form of communication. Many patrons are already using IM daily; the DFL hopes to capture this audience in addition to our walk-in, phone, and email patrons.

Personal Meebo accounts have already been set up by the director and the reference librarian. Over the next few weeks each of the seven regular reference staff members will be instructed to set up their own account in order to practice instant messaging in house. An open discussion will be held at the July reference meeting to review best practices and troubleshoot any problems. After the staff becomes familiar with the process “dummy” reference questions will be directed to a Meebo account set up at the reference desk. This way the staff will gain practice answering questions of a varied nature.

A week before the start of the school year, a Meebo widget will be put on the library’s webpage. The reference staff member on desk duty will handle the IM questions; no additional staffing will be required.

After the initial launch a PR campaign including buttons and bookmarks will begin. The library owns a button maker and bookmarks can be printed in house. Cost will be minimal. Flyers will go out to the schools on a staggered basis so as not to get too much IM activity at once. The goal is to build users gradually, giving the staff time to get used to this new service.

(Timeline for Meebo)

(Problems/Concerns)

In order to increase patron interest in the DFL’s online presence two Flickr accounts are being set up – one for adults, one for children. The adult account will include sets titled “Programming”, “Staff”, and “Building”. The children’s account will have sets titled “Programs”, “Displays”, and “Summer”. There is no charge for the Flickr accounts, the library already owns a digital camera, and the reference librarian will be responsible for maintaining the accounts, so there will be no cost to the library for this application.

(Timeline for Flickr)

(Problems/Concerns)

The Duxbury Free Library is very excited to be enhancing its services to patrons with Web 2.0 technology. For the second year the DFL will offer a free “Tech Talk” series to the public. This series will include four 1 ½ hour long presentations on the fourth Thursday of the month, starting in October and running until February, with the exception of December. The tentative line-up includes “What’s New at the DFL” by the reference librarian, “Gadget Petting Zoo” by local retailers, “Digital Photography” (presenter has not yet been booked), and “Social Networking for Grown-ups” by Jessamyn West.

Our hope is to continue this series annually as long as there is public interest in technology. The staff is dedicated to offering the best service possible, keeping ourselves abreast of the current trends, and anticipating the needs of our patrons. This series, combined with the addition of the above mention web 2.0 applications, puts us closer to the leading edge of technology.

3 comments:

Rose said...

Having just glanced at it, your project looks very good. I like that you link to Google docs, but I don't have permission to read the Problems / Concerns file.

Denise said...

Thanks Rose! I was concerned about that and checked it from my daughter's computer...I guess I could still see it because we're networked.

I owe you one!

Rose said...

Think nothing of it. It seems to work now. Thanks for all your insights and comments during the course.