Tiny Tech/High Tech

How Small Libraries Can Use Technology Sensibly

Jessamyn West



Smart Tiny Tech

smart meaning.... tiny meaning....

« the REAL problem is? »

Bad spellers just don't know how to fix the problem.

teh intarnets

silly underline image to make it seem like it's mispelled

money and priority issues, it's not about not having the money, it's being reluctant to part with it
technology problems are often management problems disguised as money problems, or knowledge problems disguised as management problems Everyone in the library can help.

« classic iceberg »

iceberg photo WE know what we do and why it's great; THEY often don't.

How many non-librarians know ...unless we tell them? image credit: http://flickr.com/photos/greenpeace_italia/2165953486/

« three simple steps »

really, just three!
  1. Make the most of the tech you have
  2. Look for free/cheap in solving tech problems
  3. Trust staff, trust users, trust the web
"I don't know but I can find out..."

and we have a name for it... image credit: http://flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/34661788/

«  library 2.0!  »

[more silly cats]

"L2 is, to me, a service philosophy built upon three things; a willingness to change and try new things; a willingness to constantly re-evaluate our service offerings; and finally, a willingness to look outside our own world for solutions, be they technology-driven or not"
Library 2.0 - "services are constantly updated and reevaluated to best serve library users. Library 2.0 also attempts to harness the library user in the design and implementation of library services by encouraging feedback and participation."Librarian 2.0 - "the guru of the information age." [cite]
Further reading: Library 2.0 and "Library 2.0" excellent overview by Walt Crawford; Library 2.0, the road ahead by John Blyberg; Ryan Deschamps' Top-ten Library 2.0 No-brainers for Public Libraries (also in "no tech" flavor)

«  librarian 2.0?  »

Remember this guy? He would have liked the "participatory web"

Pay special attention to laws 4 and 5.
[let's look at some specifics]

«  hey, email me  »

The easiest freest thing you can do to increase your library presence
  • consider a class for patrons?
  • for staff and patrons, consider a domain for email addresses?
  • aliases for staff/friends/board/others
  • for reference, low cost "ask a librarian"
  • note: there are many web-based alternatives to Yahoo/Hotmail that are free and better

Caution: Everyone's email is different. Filtering sometimes blocks what you're trying to explain. You're teaching culture in addition to teaching technique, you risk opening information-poor patrons up to a world of hurt gmail.com - google's mail solution | make Yahoo mail better with Greasemonkey scripts
gmail can be used with your domain. no more mylibrary@hotmail.com
guide for more options | email basics | what my email class looked like

« better, IM me  »

[transcript of an im conversation]

"remember, we also debated telephone reference"
We use the phone for everything interoffice. The immediacy of the phone is tough at the reference desk and encourages the chained-to-desk approach. Instant Messaging allows quick targeted chat without disrupting other communication lines. Popular with teens.
  • use it as a reference channel for patrons
  • make a quick query of the circ staff while you're helping a patron anecdote from senate
  • stay in touch with colleagues at other libraries, ask them questions
  • maintain a "buddy list" of people you contact frequently, know immediately if they're online

informal IM reference transcript, article about IM in Library Journal
Pew Report: How Americans Use IM (old) and Teens & Social Media. IM 101 - the basics
clients: Adium, Trillian, Pidgin, more.... Wikipiedia comparison chart.
kids today are using Meebo [screenshot] and their phones

« blogs & wikis & rss  »

Blogs - regular doses of links, commentary and discussion - These regular doses of links, commentary and discussion are becoming a popular and easy way of sharing information.
  • tools are often free or cheap
  • templating makes design consistency easy
  • very little tech savviness needed for basic set-up
  • easy solution to the "how do you get them coming back?" problem

RSS - read more blogs, faster
Wikis - online tools for collaborative whatever, editable by anyone [data]

The Wikipedia entry on Web 2.0 is, of course, one of the richest sources of information on the term. MSNs free online version of the Encarta Encyclopedia, in comparison, doesn't yet have a Web 2.0 entry.
"it's a box, you can type in it."
  • simple to install and modify
  • easy learning curve, also becoming popular

[it's like how for people like me, computers are video games and thus not 'real work'] a few blog search engines: Google blogsearch, technorati, ice rocket
wikis: wikipedia, muppetwiki Koha wiki
libwikis: library success, ala conference, liswiki, blogging libraries wiki
LISNews, law libraries with blogs, special libraries with blogs, Weblogs and Public Libraries article
Getting Started with RSS | What is RSS? [tons of good links] | RSS for non-techie librarians
RSS readers: Google Reader, NetNewsWire for Mac, more options and for other platforms

«  hotness: social software  »

a less dorky way to network - it's not just MySpace [data]
Where we once just had email discussion lists, now we can have "tribes", groups, forums and interest groups. Trusted friends-of-friends and colleagues-of-colleagues can share information in an easier fashion than by waiting to meet up at conferences.

Status: leaving "flavor of the month" stage. Not always interoperable. Different sites are good for different things. Yahoo is in the game.

HOT: twitter [mine], facebook [mine], flickr [mine] LESS HOT: myspace [mine], friendster
other examples: tribe.net, LinkedIn. Also dogster and catster. My former library's pictures at flickr
. Here are some things you can do right now. [image source]

« other people's projects »

[pomegranate from wikicommons]

Open Source means free and redistributable, with an open code base
"The money we spent on getting Koha MARC compliant will never need to be spent again (as opposed to every library using a given proprietary system having to purchase the same module from a vendor multiple times--sometimes even yearly)."
Many standard applications have open source equivalents. OpenOffice is a Microsoft Office equivalent. Firefox is much more configurable than IE [and safer]. Think about Thunderbird instead of Outlook.

what is open source?, more definitions, oss4lib - OS systems for libraries with project page. some examples: ibiblio.org archives, Koha opac system, rakim virtref tool, Georgia Public Library Service is developing an open source integrated library system
Linux in action: A public library's success story [image source & license]

« mashups and open APIs  »

[mashup image I made myself]
API stands for Application Programming Interface

Some API information on social sites: Flickr, LibraryThing, Google Maps, World of Warcraft
Make your own social site with ning or make a mashup with Yahoo pipes. Wikipedia on mashups. Blyberg on mashups: Tasteful Mashups or Spoiled MoJo, Mucho Mashups, Google Gadgets
Talis's Mashing up the Library contest

«  connect people  »

wifi = $30

Bill Drew's Wireless Librarian blog & Mobile Tech in Libraries page
some example library wifi pages: King County, Boston Public, Juneau Public
article: Extending broadband to rural communities with wifi [UK]

«  connect people more  »

LTR on Gaming in Libraries, who is doing it? why? more about this photo.
Quick guide to other resources.

«  so?  »

  • No amount of money will make a tech-phobic staff love technology.
  • No amount of dissuasion will keep a technophile away from technology.
  • Knowing who you're working with and [the full range of] what your options are is more valuable than any amount of money thrown at your technology problem.
The good news and the Caution about technology: it is what you make out of it. Some things you can do even with very low-end tech skills...
  • CD listening station with one of your offline computers
  • Use your voice mail system to have a pre-recorded list of new books
  • Have a staff intranet as part of your web site with links to frequently-used staff pages.
  • Accessibility in web design and use of technology generally.
  • Create a nurturing environment where everyone can learn together


Jessamyn West is a community technology librarian and the editor of the weblog librarian.net. She teaches email classes for seniors, builds tiny websites for tiny libraries and advocates for sensible technology use for everyone.

IM her at iamthebestartist.

This presentation was created in HTML using CSS. There was no PowerPoint involved in this presentation except as a nagging bad example. The layout and stylesheet are available to borrow via a share and share alike creative commons license. See source code for details.

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