Bosses ‘should embrace Facebook’

A BBC news item on a British report on business usage of social networking that found that “Allowing workers to have more freedom and flexibility might seem counter-intuitive, but it appears to create businesses more capable of maintaining stability.”

WorldCat Identities

Thom Hickey, from OCLC’s Office of Research was in the NLA this week to give a talk on one of his organisation’s new iniatives, WoldCat Identities.

The idea of WorldCat Identities is simple: create a summary page for every name in WorldCat. Since there are some 85 million records in WorldCat and nearly 20 million names mentioned somewhere, this is a large-scale data mining effort that would have been difficult even a few years ago. We are working with both personal and corporate names, so you can see a page for the Beatles, as well as the individual page for John, Paul, George and Ringo.

WorldCat Identities will eventually be run as a wiki, with anyone able to edit or merge a record (and hopefully be self-administering, in a similar way to Wikipedia).

See an update on the development of WorlCat Identities here:

Visit WorldCat Identities Beta here:

Convergence or Collision? When Library and IT Skills Meet

‘Convergence or Collision? When Library and IT Skills Meet’ is the title of a paper given at ALIA’s 2007 Information Online Conference on the importance of I.T. skills for Library staff.  Relevant excepts referring to the University of Western Sydney’s triennial Library staff I.T. skills audit are included below, with a link the the full paper at the end.

The University of Western Sydney (UWS) Library designed, administered and assessed its first skills audit in 2003.

A bank of 130 questions was developed, drawing on requirements in position descriptions and supplemented by specific skill set requirements provided by supervisors. The questions covered generic skills such as use of a computer, specific IT skills such as the ability to use different web browsers, traditional library skills relating to client service provision and ‘personal’ skills such as mentoring and communication. A sliding scale of self-assessment ranging from ‘training required’ to ‘proficient’ was used by staff to rate their skill level for each question; an ‘n/a’ option was also provided for staff to use if they felt a skill was not applicable to their position. Results were collated centrally so that overall trends and training requirements could be assessed and library-wide training strategies determined.

Additionally, individual summaries were returned to staff members and their immediate supervisors to be used as part of established performance management processes and the basis for a tailored training program.

Interestingly, while most library-trained staff identified IT areas as essential to their positions few IT staff identified library skills as a requirement. Subsequent review of the outcomes of the audit led to a decision to implement a regular, triennial audit.

Training programmes were developed to cover the areas identified by staff.

These ranged from utilisation of University offered sessions on customer service, through area-specific training such as regular detailed sessions on using the acquisitions modules, to tiered library specific technical sessions (‘basic’ and ‘advanced’ modules) developed and conducted by the UWS

Library systems team staff. The highest take up of the technical sessions was, in 2003, at the ‘basic’ module level.

The second audit was completed in August 2006.

In order to retain consistency of approach, allow some reasonable comparison between

2003/2006 data and show general trends, the majority of questions from the

2003 audit were retained, although they were reviewed and amended to reflect current work practices.

Additional questions were added to the question bank to ensure new competencies were included in the audit.

In response to feedback from staff, supervisors and library managers on the manual process used in 2003, an automated questionnaire was developed in MS Access by Library systems staff. This allowed each position holder to see only the questions deemed relevant by the senior staff responsible for that functional area. The ranking scale was amended from the broader one used in 2003 to a more detailed Lickett scale indicating levels of proficiency.

Once completed by the staff member, the questionnaire was forwarded via email notification to the immediate supervisor for their comparative ranking and comments, then submitted to a database for analysis. Analysis was undertaken at the functional area level, at campus level and at an all of library level. Once again, summary reports were provided to the individual and the supervisor, enabling them to discuss any differences in rankings for skills and determine a tailored training program, drawing on the training options identified as part of the overall analysis. Knowledge of the workings of traditional ILMS operations and client service functions was included in the audits for the library IT staff, providing a starting point for training identification. Technical skills once again rated as high areas for training, though at a more advanced level than in the 2003 audit.

Although a small number of staff requested ‘basic’ level training in technical areas, a much higher number rated themselves as competent at the basic level and requested the advanced modules, particularly in the areas of web browser use and configuration. The advanced sessions in this area cover, for example, understanding how different browsers impact on how pages are viewed, configuring security levels and knowledge of network ports required for different services – all in the context of internal and remote client support.

The skills audit approach has been welcomed by all areas and levels of the library. It offers a relatively non-threatening means by which staff self-assess their skill levels in areas identified as required for them, is a tool for supervisors to use in performance management reviews, and gives library managers an overview of skills, skills gaps and trends in training needs.

While it can never be considered a total solution, skills audits help to address the questions facing the 21st century library on how to identify the skills needed and how we ensure staff members are sufficiently knowledgeable in these areas.

The full paper can be found here:

The cute cat theory

Being as no one has mentioned cats for a while I thought I might link to this post on some random blog about how important cute cats are to the whole Web 2.0 revolution thingy…

And as a bit of a post script to Eric Lease Morgan‘s talk yesterday the flickr blog has an interesting article welcoming the Dutch National Archives to the flickr family. During question time at the end of the talk a member of the team from Picture’s Australia asked Eric to explain his ideas about cataloguing photos and putting them out into the world. Eric basically suggested that the photos should just be put out into the world with minimal cataloguing and that the hordes should be allowed to contribute to their tagging… the relinquishing of cataloguing control in favour of allowing outsiders to contribute to making such items accessible is an interesting idea and the flickr blog post is well worth a read.


Whose space is MySpace?

Who is using MySpace and what do they use it for? These are the questions that Steven Jones, Sarah Millermaier, Mariana Goya-Martinez and Jessica Schuler investigate in their article Whose space is MySpace? A content analysis of MySpace profiles, in the September issue of the online journal First Monday.

This study focuses on American MySpace users and considers how they use MySpace as a tool to foster different kinds of social relationships and identity building through the use of personalised content generation.

OCLC’s world map

OCLC has a new feature attached to WorldCat which highlights the involvement of national libraries in the catalogue. Using their interactive world map you can access information such as how many holdings the library has on WorldCat and there are links directly to the libraries’ websites. Simply click on the country, or select it from a drop down list, and you’re away!

There’s also an interesting blog entry on Metalogue for those who’d like to know a bit more of the history of WorldCat and the involvement of national libraries around the world.

NLA in the world map

NLA in the world map

Firefox Geode: Web sites know where you are

As expected, Mozilla Labs released a Firefox plug-in Tuesday called Geode that lets Web sites figure out a person’s approximate geographic location and use it in online services–as long as you grant the software permission to access the information.

Geode, a preview of technology to arrive in Firefox 3.1, taps into technology called Loki from Skyhook that deduces a computer’s location from the signals of nearby wireless networks, according to a Mozilla Labs blog post on Geode.

To show the technology off, Mozilla shared an application called Food Finder that shows the user’s approximate location and nearby dining establishments. Others that work with the technology are Pownce, a microblogging site that can record users’ locations as they post notes or photos, and Yahoo’s Fire Eagle, which lets users govern which applications get access to their location information.

There’s one thing I find interesting about the general thrust of this technology. The Internet has broken down geographic barriers, letting people stay in touch with high school buddies, tap into a global market for used books, and find comrades with shared interests such as speaking Latin or photographing mating insects.

But a lot of new work on the Net is trying to unlock the location information. After all, people often need to keep from getting lost or to find their friends at the concert. And of course, plenty of advertisers would like to target ads at people who are likely to walk past a storefront.

Although Geode today uses Skyhook’s service, Firefox 3.1 will be configurable to select other options as well, such as a GPS device, Mozilla said.

The Food Finder demonstration application showed my location, almost, with a blue dot, and nearby pastry shops listed at Yelp.

The Food Finder demonstration application showed my location, almost, with a blue dot, and nearby pastry shops listed at Yelp.

(Credit: CNET News)

Libraries and Facebook

A case study of Libraries and Facebook from the UK is at:

It gives these recommendations:

· If you decide to take the plunge and sign up for a Facebook account do spend some time reading up on the security and privacy settings relating to your account. The default option is to have your profile open which means anyone (including non-Facebook users) can view it.


· Make sure you are happy (and understand) the security settings you have saved. We would recommend you only have your profile available to your friends and not to everyone on your




· Be careful about adding too much personal information to your profile, such as your full date of birth or home address for obvious security reasons and also keep in your mind the idea of your profile as a public space, as this will help you to decide what is appropriate and not appropriate to add to it. Only share information on Facebook you are really comfortable with work colleagues knowing, as inevitably they will become your ‘friends’.


· Add some applications, (including some of the above listed library related apps) to your profile, but be selective about what you add or your profile can soon become overwhelming. Also consider that each app has separate terms and conditions that must be agreed to.



· Spend time building up your friends network on Facebook. It’s possible to search for people in various ways and you can import e-mail contact lists to see who might be already on Facebook.



· Be selective about who you accept as a friend, so don’t accept requests from people you really don’t know, but also do remember that the more friends you have on Facebook the more useful it can become.



· Join your local network and join some groups of interest. It’s worthwhile searching for groups that already exist and relate to libraries or professional interests you might have.



· Consider setting up a group or a page to experiment with how these features works – they can provide additional publicity for any professional groups you are involved in and may prove to be useful in promoting library services in the future.


·  Limit the amount of time you spend on Facebook so it doesn’t become an addiction!




This blog


Friends: Social Networking Sites for Engaged Library Services

 is also well worth visiting.