D’Arcy Stainton, Teen Librarian at VPL, says Social Media …

Interviewing a librarian was an activity challenge for the course LIBR 559M at UBC

The day I met with D’Arcy Stainton, for this interview to discuss Social Media, he was in the thick of a Do-it-Yourself button making session in the Young Adult section of the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch. There was chaos everywhere, 45 teens cutting up discarded VPL magazines, line ups for the button making machines and an enthusiasm level that created a vibrant and pleasant energy throughout the area.

D’Arcy Stainton, Teen Librarian at VPL, says that his goal is to use the social media tools available to develop relationships that make the library a place, both virtual and physical, that is popular because it is meeting the user needs.

He believes that it is important to build real relationships in the community than you will work together as a team and if there are events such as budget fall outs or relevancy issues than you will be supported by the community because they recognize and participate in the services you provide. Social Media can play an important role in this relationship building between library and user. He is an advocate for the library’s active participation in what that relationship looks like and the possibilities of social media in the Vancouver Public Library’s strategic plan.

Traditionally libraries have used social media tools to push information out. This has worked well for postings of new materials and events etc. but not in building relevant and active relationships. It is much trickier to figure out how to use social media to develop relevant relationships.

D’Arcy would like to see libraries that have a Facebook (FB) presence that encourages FB users to ‘friend’ the library to then act as a ‘friend’ not as a business. He also believes that library twitter activity can be useful to relationship building but again the key is that the library should be a personality rather than act as a business or organization. The VPL’s new BiblioCommon catalogue interface also serve as a social media tool encouraging participation and collaboration and creation.

When D’Arcy was a Children’s Librarian using social media, his online personality was a puppet named Mortimer. Mortimer created and participated in the dialogue between the library and users and those interactions developed into a relationship.

Now as the Acting Assistant Manager of Teen Services D’Arcy is trying to develop a personality for the Teen Division of VPL that will be relevant online. At present, VPL has an active teen advisory program that is very participant driven. D’Arcy believes it is the librarian’s role to facilitate this program but not to lead it. Librarians lend their expertise, knowledge and support but the community of Teens direct the program.

  • Teen Advisory Program at VPL
    • Teen lead model (community based)
    • Library offers Teens valuable life skills for future careers working on a committee.
    • Teens learn how to write grant proposals take ownership for collection decisions.
    • Teens are taken on collection buying trips and set free with a budget to spend.
    • Teens create their own programs – librarians are sometimes surprised by the choices, the librarians would not have thought of, craft program, poetry slam, art walls.
    • Budget restraints, limited resources, user needs, diverse community all become the agenda of the Teen advisory committee.

The Teen Advisory Program is very much a face-to-face relationship building activity. Then it is the memberships’ connection to their peer group F2F or online that builds a relevant relationship with the library that can then be further nurtured and developed by the library using social media tools. This relationship building is a work in progress.

Thank you to D’Arcy Stainton for taking the time from his busy schedule to meet with me to discuss his wishlist for the future of social media and Teen service at VPL.

Stainton, D’arcy. Teen Librarian @ VPL. Personal interview at the Vancouver Public Library. August 3, 2011. (Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 6B1 604-331-3623)

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Immersive / Virtual Worlds for Kids … Just for Fun

After going through the module content for this week I was feeling excited about the potential for immersive and virtual worlds.

I have a lot more experience with immersive and virtual worlds than I originally thought when I first started to work on 559M Module VI. Sure I had checked out Second Life back in the day but it did not develop into a priority activity in my life. Then after reading the module I realized that my children and I have been interacting in immersive worlds for years. For them it started with Webkinz, then Club Penguin and then Moshi Monsters. I had not given this much thought before but they all have affordances of social media: participation; collaboration; creation; and immersion.

These virtual worlds are targeted to approximately 4 to 14 year olds. They are marketed to parents as safe online spaces for children. They supposedly have a lot of safety controls so that children can play on these sites with minimum parental supervision knowing that the activities are age appropriate and no personal information can be exchanged.

Just for fun?
These sites are all about adopting pets and then using the pets as avatars in the immersive worlds. Participants earn tokens, money, points (whatever it is called in each virtual world) by playing arcade like games and/or participating in knowledge and skill building activities. They then use the accumulated points to purchase food, treats, housing, furniture, toys and recreational activities for their pet /avatar. Once there is an established presence in these worlds the children can meet up with friends and make new friends and organize play dates for their pets to have online. Users collaborate with one another through chat, to trade items, share events, give and receive gifts and participate and organize group activities. There are arts and crafts activities for the participants to create items such as greeting cards. The participants are also continually creating the living and play spaces for their pet. As the children are attached to their virtual world pet they return to the website to care for them and make sure the pet is well.

Unfortunately it is difficult to care for your pet if you forget your user name and password. How long can a virtual pet survive without food? My family may find out … or it may be a mystery we never solve. We spent time this week trying to track down some old friends and creating new accounts and making new friends.

Although the children participating with their pets in these virtual worlds are having fun they are also developing computer skills, keyboarding, and technology literacy. Many of the activities the children participate in require a variety of skills in reading, math, strategic thinking, problem solving and creativity and more. These requirements can be adjusted by age range.

The Webkinz community begins outside of the website as children must first purchase a plush toy in a store. The toy has a name and a code attached to it which you submit once you have created an account and then your physical toy is brought to ‘life’ in the webkinz virtual world. As children notice their toy lying around the house they are reminded of their virtual pet online that needs cared for.

Take a tour of Webkinz World

Club Penguin is a Disney product … http://www.clubpenguin.com/
There is a level of participation within the Club Penguin virtual world that is free but full Club Penguin access requires a paid membership, $8.00/month or $60.00/year Canadian dollars.

Moshi Monstershttp://www.moshimonsters.com/home
Children have limited access to the Moshi Monsters and their world free of charge but full access to ‘cool extras’ requires a paid membership and the price is complicated?

These are some of the earliest immersive worlds that children of today will experience. They will be introduced to more educational immersive tools in school. The industry is growing up and finding new affordance for the tools that are being developed. This technology is not just for entertainment with many immersive training and educational tools being implemented. By the time the generation, using Webkinz, Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters reaches adulthood immersion may have many affordances in everyday life.

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Information Aggregators

This week the LIBR 559M course content was about information aggregators and course participants shared a lot of information about what they have used, are using and may use in the future. I was exposed to many information aggregators. Ironically, I experienced information overload about tools available to manage information overload. Then the course instructor, Dean Giustini posted this revelation as part of his summary report for the week’s module, “I am still searching for the best aggregator. If we could get some venture capital, go down to Silicon Valley, who knows? We might be able to get into the chase for the next BIG THING” (Giustini, 2011 Social) I felt a little relieved to discover that it was okay to still be in the exploration stage of what tools are out there for personal and work use.

The point of an aggregator is for a user to filter the incredible amounts of digital information available to meet specific information needs and to access, organize and share that information from one convenient location.

I am currently using both igoogle and google reader as my information aggregators. I will admit that this happened by default as I have used gmail as my email provider for many years. It is great that I can use these tools to filter the flow of information to meet my perceived needs. I now realize that I have not used these tools to their full potential. I have learned that this is an information management tool and I still need to manage the content. As my information needs change it is important to tweak the selection of RSS feeds reaching me by subscribing to some and unsubscribing to others to keep the information relevant to me. The module content this week definitely made me question whether or not these tools were meeting my information management needs.

There were a two aggregators presented this week that I am interested in trying out. Netvibes http://www.netvibes.com/en and Symbaloo http://www.symbaloo.com/

I became curious about Netvibes after watching a Dr. Michael Wesch presentation about how he uses it as a teaching tool in post secondary learning environments. My research afterwards showed that Netvibes is a powerful tool. Netvibes appeals to me because it gives you the option of creating a personal information centre or business information centre. Personal use is free of charge and business use is fee based. As Dean Giustini shared with us, libraries, Archives and businesses are even now using Netvibes instead of websites. On a personal level I liked that Netvibes can be as simple or detailed as you want or need it to be. It can become a project, a work in progress, that you build as you go.

The appeal of Symbaloo is definitely its simplicity.

As I move forward and try out more information aggregators I will keep in mind what I learn this past week and adopt the instructor’s advice for judging an aggregator.
“I judge a platform by how aggregatable new content is; does the tool have the capacity to combine all of the social tools I use together (“integrate-ability”); rather than mere assemblage, can I use the tool for my daily communication and informal learning?” (Giustini, 2011)

Giustini, Dean.(2011) “Towards a more optimal learning space” LIBR 559M Social Media for Information Professionals. Module V, Discussion post, Towards a more optimal learning space. Retrieve from https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/urw/lc4822388789241.tp4822388812241/newMessageThread.dowebct?discussionaction=viewMessage&messageid=7504905597261&topicid=7503802911261&refreshPage=false&sourcePage=

Giustini, Dean (2011) “Social networking vs aggregation” LIBR 559M Social Media for Information Professionals. Module V Discussion Post Do aggregators hold the answer to managing information…. https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/urw/lc4822388789241.tp4822388812241/newMessageThread.dowebct?discussionaction=viewMessage&messageid=7497908716181&topicid=4822786117241&refreshPage=false&sourcePage=

Wesch, Michael, “A Portal to Media Literacy”
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4yApagnr0s

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Creating New Ways To Communicate And Share

This week the participants of LIBR 559M were challenged to “create something”. We were to create a contribution to social media content. As I worked though the course content of the week others started to create.

It took me a few days to decide how I was going to accomplish the “create something” activity for Module 4 but thanks to all those who jumped in right away and created Glogs, I was encouraged to followed and give Glogster a try. I thought okay if they can do this then so can I.

What I learned was I had some good ideas for the content and how a Glog could be used to promote libraries and library collections, such as featuring new releases, focusing on collection features, announcing events and services, etc . But I did not find the Glogster program intuitive at first. I read instructions that repeatedly stated that it was easy. Yes, it is true that it is easy to create a Glog using Glogster and anyone can do it once they figure out a few things but during that figuring out phase it can be a little frustrating. I think social media tools do that a lot, imply that usage is easy and intuitive and they are right in that once you know how to use it then it is easy but it is not easy for everyone getting started. If there is anyone out there who would like to create a Glog but they are not sure exactly where to start send me a note and I would be happy to help. Then you will also sit back and tell everyone it is easy.

My goal was to create a visual micro annotated bibliography of Canadian Hockey Picture Books available at VPL. Okay, honestly it was a process but that is what my Glog is now.

I felt as though Glogster allows you to push information out but does not offer the opportunity for dialogue. So, I also created a Wallwisher to complement my Glog. I hope that people will share links to their favourite Canadian Hockey story books or whatever they feel would add to the conversation. I hope to put more media on the Wallwisher to stimulate participation but for now it is up and ready for your input.


I have been very impressed with the creations of my classmates throughout the week. Thanks to a little help from my friends (you know who you are!) I too created a Glog and also a Wallwisher for 559m module 4 and I may do it again.

Check out other Blogs with Glogs in the class blog roll.

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Libraries Collaborate on Collection Development

What kinds of projects are suited to collaboration in information organizations?

Collaboration must be mutually beneficial to all participating.

Libraries have a lot in common with one another as they provide similar services as portals to information, have similar goals and have similar needs and challenges; therefore, it is not surprising that Libraries have had a long history of collaboration.  Unquestionably, fulfilling user expectations and budget limitations stand out as persuasive incentives for libraries to cooperate and collaborate.  Collaboration on collection development began early in all types of libraries and has become more feasible and expanded with advances in technology.  Libraries and Librarians continue to embraced new technologies that enabled them to communicate and share with each other and their users more effectively, such as social media.

Libraries: Collection Development Collaboration

The early forms of library collection development collaboration began with material and resource sharing and then developed into a system of interlibrary loaning (ILL), then catalogue sharing and consortium purchasing. More recently, examples of collection collaboration include digitization projects and resource storage.

  • Interlibrary loan arrangements can reduce duplication of materials and therefore extend collection budgets.
  • New technology and the development of electronic library catalogues have given libraries the ability to easily share their bibliographic records.
  • Purchasing consortia arrangements among libraries are sometimes used to acquire less used expensive items but primarily they have become a collaborative collection development strategy associated with electronic resource acquisitions.

Just to name a few. As technology develops libraries find new ways to provide better service and cut cost to collection development budgets. Social media is providing new opportunities in this cause.

Social Media and Collection Development Collaboration

Social Media has the potential to take library collection development collaboration to another level.  Libraries are using social media tools to maintain two way communication with users and non-users and colleagues and vendors:

  • Digital sharing … Libraries are scanning requested items, especially historical photos and sharing them in flickr, or emailing the scan rather than sending the original.  Many image collections are being digitized and made accessible online for everyone.
  • E-books … There is a shift in interlibrary loans to ebook purchasing. ILL has been a labour intensive and costly sharing process, as a result some libraries are shifting to purchasing requested material in electronic format as a less expensive alternative.
  • Catalogue sharing … Bibliocommons is being adopted by many libraries as a new bibliographic records sharing opportunity. This also allows users to share collection suggestions.
  • Blogs … Libraries use blogs to push information out about many things including collections such as new acquisitions. Libraries use internal blogs to share floating materials in order to keep the collections within a library system balanced. Blogs are also use to communicate with vendors.
  • Communication tools … social media tools are helpful to facilitate collaborate and coordinate and negotiation with each other and vendors related to electronic resources.


The resounding push for collaborative collection development in all library types has been due to a desire to continue to provide quality service to the user community within budget restraints.  As the technologies fostering collaboration become more mainstream collaborative collection development among library organizations can accomplish much more than any one library acting independently.  Social media is opening up more opportunities and ease for collaboration of all forms but especially in the area of collection development.


New York Public Library. (2011) “The New York Public Library and Bibliocommons Partner To Create A New Innovative, Interactive Online Experience”  Retrieved from http://www.nypl.org/press/press-release/2011/06/20/new-york-public-library-and-bibliocommons-partner-create-new-innovati

O’Dell, S. (2010). Opportunities and Obligations for Libraries in a Social Networking Age: A Survey of Web 2.0 and Networking Sites. J Libr Admin, 50(3)

Scott, Suzanne (2011) “Collaborative Scholarship in Library and Information Science,” SLIS Student Research Journal: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 1. Available at: http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/slissrj/vol1/iss1/1

Tucker, James Cory, Bullian, J., Torrence, M.C. (2003). “Collaborate or Die! Collection Development in Today’s Academic Library”.  The Reference Librarian. Vol. 40, Issue 83-84. Retrieved from http://www.mendeley.com/research/collaborate-or-die-collection-development-in-todays-academic-library/

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Libraries Creating Participation With Social Media


I have been lurking in the LIBR 559M course site this week hoping for a light bulb moment.  I have been reading and thinking about what I have to say about social media participation.  Thank goodness that lurking is a form of participation.  Then I looked at the articles again and I have decided to simply jump in and publically participate on the topic of participation.  I was reminded by Andrew Sullivan that this is not the type of writing that allows for time to synthesize thoughts and order them and editing drafts as perspectives evolve. (Sullivan, 2008).


Libraries have always been organizations of sharing and user participation.  Social media is yet another opportunity for libraries to share information, services, collections and resources.  Social media offers libraries the opportunity to further develop that relationship of sharing by making it more of a multi-layered conversation that may foster greater participation.

 What are the opportunities for libraries to use social media to create an environment of participation? 

 Libraries and information organizations need to participate in social media to remain relevant to their collections and their customers.  Social media is not a fad.  As libraries have always been organizations of sharing, social media seems like a natural progression. Library participation in social media should be included in a library’s long term strategic plan.  

 The most important element of library participation in social media is the participation loop, meaning that the communication is a least a two way flow.   It requires that libraries adapt tools and services to allow users to fully participate. (Casey, 2007) Currently many libraries have incorporated multiple blogs servicing different user groups by pushing information out such as RSS feeds and events calendars and new book /dvd/cd/ebook etc notices.  Other social media tools allow for interaction in areas of readers advisory, and comment and suggestion opportunities.   Some libraries have adapted the BiblioCommons catalogue interface allowing users to tag materials and write reviews.

 Could libraries be doing more?

 After reading the article about the shift in corporate values from customers’ willingness to pay (WTP) to customers’ willingness to participate (Parent, 2011) it made me think that information organizations could be doing more.   It would be great if information organizations could generate the participation success that some private companies have experienced.  Some strategies corporations succeeded with were Youtube videos, contests, and creative activities such as decorating a tree with company logos. (Parent, 2011)

One area I thought remains open for greater participation by users is that of collection development.  Many public libraries are leaning towards being suppliers of the Top 10 list of everything. Perhaps as libraries are automatically ordering those items they know will be in demand the users could participate in selection suggestion from the Long Tail options. The Long Tail is that 80% of items, books, movies, music, that does not get the exposure it needs to make it into the mainstream media. (Casey, 2007).  This type of user participation would be perfectly suited to social media in libraries and information organizations. 

Do you have any other ideas?


Albrechtslund, A. (2008). Online social networking as participatory surveillance. First Monday, 13, 3. Retrieved from Retrieved from http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2142/1949

 Casey, Michael E. & Laura C. Savastinuk. (2007) “Chapter 5, Participatory Library Service” in Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service. New Jersey: Information Today Inc. Retrieved from https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/urw/lc5116011.tp0/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct

Jenkins, H., with Clinton, K., Purushotma, R. Robinson, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Chicago, IL: MacArthur Foundation. http://www.projectnml.org/files/working/NMLWhitePaper.pdf

 Parent, Michael & Kirk Plangge & Anjali Bal (2011) The new WTP: Willingness to participate Business Horizons Pages 219-229.  Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681311000048

Sullivan, Andrew. (2008) “Why I Blog,” The Atlantic. November 2008. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/11/why-i-blog/7060/

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Welcome to the social media learning adventure. 

 This blog has been established to fulfil a course assignment for LIBR 559M: Social Media for Information Professionals within the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, for the MLIS degree at the University of British Columbia.

  As a MLIS candidate and future librarian it is my intention to not only succeeding in this course by fulfilling the requirements but to chronicle the joys (and possibly the frustrations) of the steep learning curve of embracing or at least becoming competent in the social media technologies of today.  Libraries are incorporating social media technologies for a variety of purposes and I hope to soon participate in these initiatives in a meaningful way.

 Social Media refers to the digital technologies that have become interactive and collaborative.  

 As the saying goes, “the only constant in life is change”.  I believe that this has never been truer than during the past 25 years.  During this time technology has revolutionized how a large part of the global population lives. Our society includes a combination of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. Digital natives are people born during this time of digital technology, internet, email,  online journals, document sharing, texting, social media etc. Digital Immigrants are people born before this technology era who needed to learn as it developed or on a need to know basis. Digital immigrants may also be people who simply have not been exposed to these digital innovations due to other reasons such as social, economic, political challenges.

 It is relevant to consider that not all people we interact with as library professionals will be digital natives and we must interpret the comfort levels of our customers. The technology rich environment that libraries provide create incredible advantages to services for some but at the same time may be difficult for others to navigate.

 My current journey is taking me into the world of social media. I am hoping this blog is a knowledge building exercise for us all as well as fun and entertaining.


Digital Natives / Digital Immigrants Definition. Retrieved on July 16th 2011 from  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_natives

Prensky, M. 2001. Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon 9 (5). Retrieved on July 16th 2011 from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital

Social Media Definition. Retrievec on July 16th 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media

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