Social Media in Library 2.0

An exploration of social media in libraries

Aggregation: iGoogle + Google Reader vs. Netvibes

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This week’s module has been all about aggregation.  Here’s a definition written by two of my classmates (posted here):

Aggregation refers to collecting content from multiple social media sites (such as Facebook or Twitter) with the goal to organize and simplify users’ social networking experiences. While individual sites may offer unique features specific to that site, social networking aggregation collects the content that is produced on several sites and delivers it in a less overwhelming way. Aggregating content is performed by using tools to draw information from different sites into a single space. Aggregation services provide tools and widgets — either downloadable or web-based — that function to consolidate friends, bookmarks, messages and profiles in easy, digestible formats. Aggregation is done by an application programming interface (API).

I personally use a couple of different aggregators (does this defeat the purpose?), but my primary aggregator is a combination of iGoogle and Google Reader.  I’ve been using it for a couple of years, and am generally pleased with it.

What I like about Google Reader:
  • The interface is clean and simple.
  • It’s easy to switch between viewing only new items and all items.  I usually just view new items.
  • I can do a text search of my GR content.
  • Feeds can be organized into folders, and individual posts can be tagged (though I wish I could tag whole feeds at once).
  • It’s easy to star, share and comment on posts.
  • I like the “trends” feature.  I don’t use it for any real purpose, it’s just to satisfy my curiosity every now and then.
  • I don’t feel like I have to read everything at once: it’s easy to skip things to read later, and if I haven’t read the last 1000+ posts in a feed, I know it’s time to unsubscribe.
The downside of GR:
  • Certain tasks are difficult.  I have to consult the help page every time I want to add a new folder, because it isn’t intuitive.  Unsubscribing from feeds isn’t intuitive either.
  • The formatting is almost entirely removed from the original post.  This is great for skimming, but if I want the full experience of an item I have to open the original page.  It also isn’t great for fashion, art and craft blogs.
  • I use iGoogle as my homepage.  I have “gadgets” for all of the things I check regularly: my Twitter and Facebook feeds, Gmail, calendar, RSS feeds for a couple of websites, Google maps, weather, and an overview of GR.
  • The interface is clean, and I could change the theme if I wanted to.
  • The gadgets can be moved around the page drag-and-drop style.  My information habits change fairly frequently, so it’s great that I can change the layout of my homepage in seconds.
We looked at lots of neat aggregators this week.  I’d like to try out an open source aggregator (Drupal, maybe) but don’t have the time to devote to learning it right now.  I was inspired to try out Netvibes after watching this video and seeing how Dr. Michael Wesch has incorporated social media into his university classroom using Netvibes: Another major bonus of using Netvibes is that I’m not entrusting all of my information to one corporation.  For my own personal use, I would use my Netvibes dashboard in much the same way as I currently use my Google software, but with a couple of differences:
  • The dashboard has tabs, so I can categorize my feeds into pages rather than folders.  This is my favourite feature.
  • The pages can be viewed by feed (one long chronological list of posts) or by widget (each feed has its own box, which can be easily moved around the page.  Unfortunately, I have to choose one view for my entire dashboard: I would prefer to view certain tabs as one feed and other tabs in widgets.
  • RSS feeds in widgets can be viewed in a number of ways.  I can customize each widget, so I have control over whether pictures and other formatting are shown.
  • Netvibes is esthetically more pleasing, but not so busy as to distract from my content.
  • The Netvibes site is a bit slower than Google.
  • It’s more difficult to skim my Netvibes dashboard.
The Verdict
For my own use, I’m sticking with Google.  Being able to skim my content and then decide what I want to read more closely is a necessity.  Also, it’s just easier to stick with what I know.  But if I were setting up an account for use in a library or an educational setting, I would likely choose Netvibes.  It’s more visually interesting, and would be great to be able to split content up into different tabs.

What does everyone else use?  I see from our class discussion that Google Reader is popular.  Has anyone had more experience with Netvibes?

Written by Jessica Gillis

August 11th, 2011 at 11:13 am

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Using Glogster for Reader’s Advisory

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I was introduced to Glogster (and the verb “glogging”) in this week’s module on creation.  Forgive my use of the 2.0 suffix that we all so dislike, but Glogster is basically Poster 2.0.  Users can create posters using pictures, videos, audio, and hyperlinks, and graphics.  The posters can be linked to, or embedded in, web pages and blog posts, and can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, and a myriad of other social networking tools.  Glogster’s mission statement:

Glogster is committed to bringing the best Multimedia Tool & Expression Space for young people, students, educators, and all creative people through its innovative Glog format and the new online phenomenon, Glogging.

It occurred to me that these posters would be a cool way to link library users to recommended books, so I thought I’d try my hand at creating one:

The benefits of glogging:

  • The software is generally intuitive and easy to use, and it only took me a few minutes to put together this simple poster.
  • Any item in the poster can be linked to an external webpage.  In my poster, all of the pictures link to book reviews from in a real library situation, I would link to the library’s own reviews or to the item’s catalogue record.
  • It’s easy to embed videos.  I embedded this booktalk video from YouTube: a librarian could tape his/her own booktalks for this purpose, or link to book trailers and other relevant videos.
  • The user can choose graphics to match the content of the poster.
  • The visual (rather than textual) foundation of the poster is attractive, especially for teens and children, and is great for those with visual memory.
  • More text could be used to customize the poster: a librarian could easily incorporate readalikes into the poster.


  • Once an element is added to the poster, you cannot edit certain aspects of the element.  For example, once a photo is added, you cannot go back and add a frame: you have to delete the original photo and add the photo with a frame separately.
  • The software is slow to load.

Other uses of Glogster:

  • Subject guides: The basic ideas mentioned above could be applied to a subject guide.  This would likely be more complicated to create, and would probably benefit from a combination of text and images, rather than just images.  It probably wouldn’t work well for all subjects, but it might be effective for some (e.g. art, genealogy).  It might also work better for public library subject guides than academic library guides.
  • Library events: Glogster is a neat way to “scrapbook” photos and videos once the event has finished.  When appropriate, the photos/videos could link to library webpages or other community events.
  • Staff introductions: Librarians and other staff members could create “about me” posters.  They could include interests, education, photos, video, text, and/or links to other social networking profiles, like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  Librarians sometimes have this information on the library’s webpage, but a visual profile could be much more interesting, and it would be especially appropriate for a young adult librarian.

Here are a few glogging libraries and librarians:

Can you think of more ways to use an interactive poster?  How could they be used in archives and non-traditional information organizations?

Written by Jessica Gillis

August 1st, 2011 at 3:19 pm

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