Instructional Design Resources

Librarians sharing cool stuff

Session B304 – Content Management Systems (CMSs) October 31, 2007

Filed under: IL2007 — ellenh @ 4:43 pm

I’ve been looking forward to this session all week – since I have my own struggles with our campus CMS.


Ruth Kneale, National Solar Observatory, ATST Project – From Static to Dynamic: Choosing and Implementing a CMS

CMSs – used to collaboratively and interactively create, manage, control, and publish information. Known by many other names.

We need them to avoid the “single point source syndrome” and to increase team collaboration, ease administration, increase functionality, improve presentation.

Her needs: LAMP setup (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PhP), content approval, WYSIWYG editor, friendly URLs, version control, content reuse.

Should haves: sandbox/staging area, mass uploading, site mapping/indexing

Nice to have: stats, events, photos, drag and drop

To CMS or to Wiki?
Looked at and,,, and did local evaluation

OpenSourceCMS – lets you play with CMSs without installing on your own server – Very nice!


Amy Radermacher, Reference/Cataloging/Electronic Resources Librarian, Concordia University
May Chang, Head, Library IT Services, UMBC Library, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
– CMS Experiences at CSP and UST: Same Application, Different Libraries

At both these universities, the CMS was handed to the library from the IT department.


across-campus CMS use: from a marketing standpoint, wanted to develop a more uniform website, increase the number of editors while maintaining design consistency.

The library would have liked to have been involved in the plan from the beginning, because library sites are much more dynamic than other departments on campus – they are constantly changing, constantly growing, constantly requiring new interactive tools.

Issues: the design was separate from the content, library site linked to many more outside sites (and the web services people had put all links across all the campus in one folder), weren’t able to make pages live immediately

University of St. Thomas:

Again, decided on a CMS because of marketing considerations. However, the library is a service point, not about marketing. Campus IT wants control and consistency.

Tips for success: get in early, negotiate flexibility, develop in-library technical expertise, communicate! Make sure you still create good folder structures, etc. even if you do have control over your content.


One lesson learned: ally yourself with someone in marketing (since they have so much power over how the CMS got deployed) and argue your case for other functions from a library marketing standpoint.


Session B303 – Folksonomies and Tagging: Libraries & the Hive Mind

Filed under: IL2007,tagging — ellenh @ 3:31 pm

Tom Reamy, Chief Knowledge Architect, KAPS Group

Cautionary quote about folksonomies – “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world… The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate conviction.” -W.B. Yeats

Essentials of Folksonomies

  • folksonomy is done by users, taxonomy is done by professionals
  • basically what it comes down to is that it is metadata that users add
  • key – social mechanism for seeing others’ tags


  • Very simple to use – no need to learn a difficult classification system
  • lower cost of categorization – distribute the cost over a large population
  • Open ended – respond quickly to changes
  • Relevance – users’ own terms
  • supports a serendipitous form of browsing
  • easy to tag any type of an object – photos, docs, bookmarks
  • better than no tags at all
  • gets people excited about metadata

Disadvantages – related to quality of tags

  • they don’t work well for finding – re-finding is of marginal value
  • no structure, no conceptual relationships – flat lists do not an “onomy” make – there is only popularity
  • issues of scale – popular tags already showing a million hits
  • limited applicability – only useful for non-technical or non-specialist domains
  • either personal tags (other’s can’t find) or popularity tags – lose interesting terms. Most people can’t tag very well. Tagging is a learned skill.
  • errors – misspellings, bad compounds, etc.


  • Unwisdom of crowds, madness of crowds
  • Tyranny of the majority, popularity drowns quality, narrowing of choices, lost content
  • belief that hierarchy, taxonomy not needed

Will Social Networking make better Folksonomies?

  • Not so far – the same tags are dominating on
  • quality and popularity are very different things
  • most people don’t tag, and don’t re-tag
  • study – folksonomies follow NISO guidelines – nouns, etc. – but do they actually work to get you where you want to go? – no
  • most tags are created by heavy computer users, who love to do this stuff – the regular users and infrequent users aren’t good taggers

Flickr Facets

  • his organization analyzed flickr tag clouds – 90% of content falls into 6 different types of facets (place (40% of tags), events, dates, people, things/animals, color).
  • Subject matter of photograph was less than 1% of the tags
  • If Flickr added facets, it would be a whole lot more useable

  • tags are not facets, they are subjects
  • high-level topics – photography, news, education
  • get related terms by popularity, not conceptually
  • one type of facet stood out – “howto” “tutorial” “toread” “todo” etc.
  • popularity is not quality – dominance of computer terms, tyranny of the majority – “design” – 1 million, “interior design” – 3,909
  • top 25 – same set, slight order shift – social inertia
  • folksonomy findability – too many hits, no plurals or stemming, personal tags like “cool” “fun” and “funny” – good for social research, not for finding documents or sites
  • Folksonomies are really good for social research

Improving the Quality of Folksonomies

  • adding facets to Flickr
  • Clustering tags – taxonomy/ontology, entity extraction, populate facets and subjects, types of relationships
  • add a broad general taxonomy of most popular tags – tags as natural categories (dog, rather than “mammal” or “purebred golden retriever”)
  • evolve quality of tags and emerging structure of tags – preferred terms, ranking tags

Folksonomies and Libraries

  • Three contexts: Library Catalog, Internet Service, Enterprise (Knowledge Management) contributor
  • PennTags, Stanford – librarians find good sites to tag
  • LibraryThing – still high level concepts, not that much better at tagging, issue is the variety of terms, strange tags – 19,000 tags of “book”, combination of facets and topics, inconsistencies, redundancies

There is a lot of in-between between folksonomies and LCSH

What might work: semantic infrastructure and evolution, dynamic social rules, reduce the amount of “folk” and increase “onomy” (example: Wikipedia hiring editors, ranking articles), also can increase “folk” – not just see tags, discuss tags


Session B302 – What’s Hot with RSS!

Filed under: IL2007,rss — ellenh @ 1:07 pm

Steven Cohen, Senior Librarian, Law Library Management Inc., & Creator,

“RSS is neither simple nor syndicated: discuss”


I’m not going to blog all the notes, since his presentation is up on pbwiki: Presentation site

Some points of interest:

  • You can analyze trends with Google Reader, find your subscription numbers (this is fairly new), share items (which creates a new page of shared items, and another RSS feed of those shared items – this could be a really great item for sharing information among organizations)
  • Tumblr – can share snippets, images, other feeds (Twitter, blog RSS feed, Flickr) – again provides another feed – can grab stuff from lots of folks, again could be good for organizations sharing information.
  • Windows Vista has an RSS feed directly on the desktop, IE directly on the browser.
  • – searching the biblioblogosphere and beyond. Run search results and then grab the feed.
  • Techmeme Meta RSS for Tech bogs
  • Wesmirch – Meta RSS for celebrity gossip
  • Page2RSS – can create a feed from any page, whether they have one or not.
  • Ebsco databases have feeds for searches now – after running a search for someone doing a big research project, subscribe to the feed and email them with new articles that come out. “You look like a hero.”

Session B301 – Mashups & Data Visualizations: New Breed of Web Applications

Filed under: IL2007,resources — ellenh @ 12:18 pm

Darlene Fichter, Head, Indigenous Studies Portal, University of Saskatchewan

Web 1.0

  • realm of the HTML coders

Web 2.0

  • don’t need to know HTML
  • citizen journalists, stock photo sites
  • DIY Programming

What is a mashup?

  • uses content from more than one source to create a new service.
  • uses an API or RSS feed
  • sent in an XML stream

Mashup Ecosystem

  • Open Data
  • Open set of services and applications (APIs)
  • Us

The library could be one of the sources of content, as well as the place that creates the mashups that use content.

  • is a great website for sources of mashups.
  • Mapping, photos and shopping mashups are really hot right now.


  • Fastest growing ecosystem – Most of the sites we’re going to right now are mashups
  • Questions of authority and province – where is the data from? Is it reliable?
  • Don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to use APIs

Mashup Tools

Google Maps

Yahoo Pipes

  • A little more complicated than some of the other mashup tools
  • Except that it uses types of advanced database queries – boolean terms, etc. which librarians are pretty good at, so it’s not impossible to use
  • Cambridge Public Library – top book covers

Unintended Consequences

  • Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you don’t know the real source of the data
  • Client side scripts that modify the pages that you look at.

These days there are so many information rich data visualizations in newspapers and magazines. There are some really good tools out there to help you do that kind of thing.


Social Sites for Data Visualization

  • Important new medium
  • an individual should get value from their contribution
  • these contributions should provide value to peers
  • the organization that hosts the service should derive aggregate value and be able to expose this back to the users


  • Many Eyes – from IBM, will analyze text and display tag clouds. View and discuss visualizations, view and discuss datasets, create visualizations from existing datasets, upload your own data, topic hubs, select items to watch, track contributions, see comments
  • Swivel – tasty data goodies. Shows you teh source, gives lots of graphs. Very cool.
  • LivePlasma – shows relationships between actors, directors and movies
  • Gapminder / Trendalyzer – bought by Google

This was an amazing session – I learned a LOT about some really cool tools for data visualization and mashups. I’m really excited to explore some of these tools and see what could be useful for my library.


Session A202 — Promoting Play Through Online Discovery: Lego Building October 30, 2007

Filed under: IL2007 — ellenh @ 3:50 pm

Helene Blowers and Meredith Farkas talked about the concept of “playing” with technology – as ways to learning more about how to use technology, online social networking tools and other online applications in our libraries as well as ways to train others to use them. Helene specifically told us to carve out time during our day to allow ourselves to play with different tools.

I had been thinking about this concept a lot lately, as sometimes I wonder if people look at the work I’m doing with blogs, wikis, IM, RSS, web pages, etc. as “not real library work.” I think it’s imperative that as librarians we experiment with different tools, resources and technologies. The use of one particular tool may not be immediately apparent, but you never know when some situation or problem might arise and that tool could be the perfect application to address that issue.

This point was driven home for me when last week I heard a report on NPR about the local NPR affiliate station in San Diego, and how they had used web-tools to get information out about the fires. The web-developers at the station created a public Google Map and a Twitter feed with information about the fires, evacuation areas, shelters and other pertinent public information. The key quote from the report for me was this one:

Online Managing Editor Leng Caloh relied on My Map, a fairly new application from Internet search engine Google. People usually use My Map to pinpoint things like the best places to play golf or get a drink.

“The playing that a lot of us on the team do in our free time has been the key to our success,” Caloh said.

You never know what kinds of applications you could use these new tools for, until it becomes very apparent. So play around with them.


IL2007: Opening Keynote, 10/30

Filed under: IL2007 — jennym @ 10:36 am

Reference 2.0
Joe Janes, iSchool University of Washington

Historical overview

  • Samuel Green’s 1876 “Personal Relations with Readers” introduced reference as we know it
  • Special libraries were really the first to do reference; academic libraries came in relatively late in the game (~1910)
  • Reference manifests itself in different ways in different settings

Current situation

  • We live in a world where people can find information independently, and can find help doing so in many different places, though reference was developed when there was less information that was harder to find
  • What does this mean for reference?
  • It’s worth assuming that everything will be in digital form
  • The ultimate goal of Google books is to have “all the books”
  • We’re in an ever-more digital world
  • New and different ways of searching (i.e., the channel surfing method of finding information – I’m not channel surfing, I’m watching all the channels)
  • In our asymptotically digital world, we have ways of getting at information at all different levels, from entire words to individual phrases
  • Horizontal/federated searching make for a totally new environment of access
    • we’re increasingly focused on parts
  • James Wire’s reference textbook (1940s?) — “They will choke and die in front of you before they tell you what they want.”

How do we insert reference into this world?

  • Don’t complain about Wikipedia – change it
  • Public libraries can seek information needs in their community like questions asked on public blogs or online forums
  • We are made for depth, accuracy and authority
  • Google gets 100s of millions of hits a day — we can’t handle that
    • We need to focus on providing service to people who want our services
  • Levels of service
  • High-end tech users are “individually communal”
  • If many of our users are living in this Web 2.0/participatory web world, we need to be there too, and we need to be there actively making our mark
  • People like Second Life because you get to create things
  • If we can help people make their creative works more usable, we’re doing them a service
  • We need to play to our strengths and get out of the library
    • we need to be somewhere and everywhere (physical and virtual space)
    • the concept of the library has to leak out of the building
    • we know our gate counts, our reference stats, but rarely do we consider our web traffice
      • we’ve probably double our usage in the last five years via the web, but we’re not getting more $$
  • We see a segmentation of our populations
    • for those “diving deep” – we do reference and research
    • for quick, transitory needs (like IM questions) – our mantra should be “move them forward” – point them to resources, give search tips, get them to the next step
    • for high-tech users – help them find the network
    • for non-users – leave them alone — market yourself as a time and money saver, but don’t chase users

What we do online has to be better than what we do in person

  • When people are there, they’ve already made the commitment
  • When they’re online, they can be gone in a heartbeat

My thoughts:
This was a great keynote. I liked Janes’ points on web services (not just websites) and how important they are for us. I also appreciated the absence of any doomsday “Reference is dying” assertions.


User-Generated Content

Filed under: IL2007 — jennym @ 8:38 am

Meredith Farkas and Josh Petrusa, Norwich University

Web 1.0: Democratized access to information

Web 2.0: Democratized participation

What is user-generated content?

  • Comments
  • Ratings
  • Wiki contributions
  • Uploading photos
  • Contributing to online communities

Why User-Generated Content?

  • We don’t know everything
    • When we allow other people to contribute knowledge, we can all benefit
      from it
  • Insufficient metadata
    • Making information objects found online more findable and richer
  • Findability and refindability
    • finding images on flickr, for instance
  • Stories people tell about items are of value
  • Interacting with materials creates a more personal connection
  • People are already generating their own content


  • user created descriptive metadata
  • Folksonomy – system of organizing through tagging
  • There are many ways to describe items
  • Tags help us create collections (i.e. IL2006)

Why tags?

  • Lets people make sense of content using their own vocabulary
  • Helps people to re-find their own content
  • Helps people to discover new content

Why not tags?

  • No control
  • people can use plural or singular words, use dashes and underscores, etc
  • Multiple terms to describe a single concept
  • People tag things selfishly (means nothing to you, but means something to
  • People tag incorrectly

How do we improve tagging?

Examples of User-Generated Content

  • Picture Australia project
  • Western Springs History
    • WordPress blog
    • pictures of historical homes in Western Springs, IL
  • NCSU – historical photos in flickr
  • LibraryThing
    • tons of user-generated metadata
    • cool tag clouds
    • you can make suggestions and recommendations based on tags and other
      user-generated content
  • BookSpace (from Hennepin County PL)
    • public library users engaged in generating content
    • also have comments on catalog records
  • Penn Tags
    • put tags into catalog
  • RocWiki
    • Rochester


  • Moderation
    • if you’re going to get involved in user-generated content, you have to
      have time to moderate
  • Tech issues — how are we going to make this happen?
  • differentiation between user content and institutional content