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The PLA Blog | Official Blog of the Public Library Association

Michael Porter of WebJunction and Janie Hermann of Library Garden and Princeton Public Library, New Jersey, combined to discuss how new technologies can help libraries build and serve communities.

Marilyn Mason introduced them. She also told us to watch for newly expanded and redesigned services on Webjunction that we will see in the next few weeks.

Porter began with a quick, entertaining, and relevant look at social sites on the Internet, focusing on applications that libraries are already making.

  • YouTube – there are already 3650 public library related videos loaded on this popular social video site. Getting the camera and learning to make the videos is the harder part. Loading them to YouTube is easy. Members of the audience concurred.
  • Amazon’s Wish Lists for Libraries – 380 public libraries are utilizing this service with readers donating fully processed books instead of just buying books for their home library.
  • Meebo – for monitoring instant messages. You can see multiple accounts on one screen.
  • Flickr – Posting a picture a day is a way to show the many services of the library. These photos could be sent to clients by RSS.
  • Del.icio.us – make public your web recommendation lists

Porter talked about how essential having MySpace and FaceBook accounts and having them link to all your libraries other web sites, including Flickr or other social offerings. “Be where the user is” is the goal and way to stay relevant.

Hermann talked about the importance of staff technical training and resources to help the library establish a training program. Princeton Public Library does something that I had not heard of before – combining public and staff technical classes. Much of what the staff need to learn is the same as what the public is learning for Web 2.0, so one set of classes can often cover both public programming and staff training. PPL has 25 established classes covering various computer and Internet topics.

PPL also has Data Bites programs, which are lunch time talks about databases, open to the staff and the public. On the first Tuesday night of the month, it has Technology Talks with invited speakers who cover current computer and web topics.

She then talked about other sources of online training that staff can tap. She recommended WebJunction, OPAL, and Neal Schuman PEN courses. When the library asks a staff member to take these, she said the library should be sure to schedule adequate off-desk time for them.

Hermann also recommended making screencasts or slidecasts for staff or public instruction. Wink and CamStudio are free. Camtasia is a popular fee-based software for creating online instruction.

About library websites, she said that we should always be redesigning them.

The program ended with a virtual presentation of Ning.com by Stephanie Gerdling, which is used for building online social networks. Some technical glitches lessened the impact of this portion of the otherwise helpful program.

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