Thing 7. Web 2.0 Communication Tools

Many Web 2.0 tools can be tagged as communication tools. Blogs, Wikis, Flickr, podcasts, & videos all are ways to communicate and share information. Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook are communications tools for much of the (younger) population, too. The communication tools in this Thing—email, IM, and text messaging, Google Groups, Web Conferencing—make person-to-person or group-to-group communication easier.
Many libraries have added these communication tools as part of their online reference suite to offer users more ways to reach them. The argument for IM, email, text messaging, social network presence via Facebook, et. al. is to reach users where they are in their preferred means of communication. We may like telephones or walk-in users, but users want to communicate with us in their preferred ways. Libraries one debated telephone reference, too—but that was before libraries and librarians were early adopters of new technology!
In this Thing, you will read, listen, and/or watch intros to these tools and how they work in libraries. There are some activities (the numbered items) to try associated with each one. Be sure to do each of the numbered items and then blog about your experiences.
Email has been around longer than the Internet—early inceptions date to the late 1960s using mainframe computers. Now, almost everyone has at least one email address. With more than 1.5 billion email users sending 183 million email messages a day, it would seem email has a secure role in online communication and collaboration, in spite of many new tools. Everyone needs to understand and use email. If you don’t already, consider offering, classes on email for your patrons using these free email services:
Libraries use email for many purposes: Ask a Librarian, update patrons on their holds/overdues, and for library discussion groups to name a few.
1. Email can be a productivity enhancer or a time drain. Explore the productivity aspects of your current email program (things like folders, groups, spam filters). Here are some other productivity hints.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging (IM) is a real time communication tool that allows users to type into a chat box and send the info to one or more other IM users. It, too, can be a productivity tool or a time user. It is a popular communication among teens, as well as business people because of the instant response possible. Here is how it works.
2a. Watch this video that shows an Instant Message chat with a librarian at the University of Buffalo (Warning: music!).

There are many IM services—popular ones include AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and Yahoo! Messenger. Both require downloads to work. Google offers two. Google Talk bundles various services including file sharing if you download the software. Web-based Google Talk does not require a download. Google Chat is built into Gmail.
2b. Read about Instant Messaging and libraries in this Library Journal article.
2c. Set up an IM account with others in your building who are participating in 23 Things On a Stick. Practice IMing each other. (On your own? Contact your multitype or check your region’s participants’ blogs to find an IM partner.)

Text Messaging (SMS—Short Message Service)

Short Message Service (SMS), commonly called text messaging, lets users send short messages of up to 160 characters via cell phone or other communication device. There is a basic cost involved depending on your provider for those who send and receive text messages. With 500 billion text messages being sent per year, it seems that text messaging is permeating our culture. Are you part of the revolution?
3a. View this video demonstration of a Text a Librarian session with an academic librarian.

3b. Read this article about libraries and text messaging in Smart Libraries Newsletter.
3c. Try text messaging another 23 Things participant. See the IM note about finding a partner.

Web Conferencing
Web conferencing is used to conduct live meetings or presentations over the Internet. In a web conference, each participant sits at his or her own computer and is connected to other participants via the Internet. This can be either a downloaded application on each of the attendees' computers or a web-based application where the attendees will simply enter a URL to enter the live meeting. These web-based applications are used either with Flash or Java technology.
A webinar is a type of web conference. A webinar can be one-way, with the speaker giving a presentatior or it can be collaborative including question and answer or discussion sessions to allow full participation between the audience and the presenter. MINITEX Webinars are an example of web conferencing.
OPAL (Online Programming for All Libraries) is a low-cost Web conferencing service that offers public online programs including book discussions, interviews, special events, library training, writing workshops, and virtual tours of special digital library collections, as well as many library continuing education presentations. A podcast about OPAL is here.
Everyone is welcome to participate in OPAL programs. Usually there is no need to register. Nearly all OPAL programs are offered free of charge to participants.
4b. Look at the OPAL Master Schedule. Find an interesting program and join in. You don’t have to watch the whole thing if you don’t have time; watch enough to get a feel for the format.
View a MINITEX Webinar.

Blog Prompts

Communicate your thoughts on these tools in this communication tool--your blog!
  • Describe how your library uses email. Has it improved productivity?
  • Share your thoughts on online reference using some of the other Web 2.0 communication tools.
  • Are you an active user of text messaging, IM, or other communication tools?
  • Which OPAL or MINITEX Web conference (Webinar) did you attend? How was it? What do you think o this communication tool?
Challenge (optional)
1. Google Groups
Google Groups bundles several services including email, document sharing, wiki features and web creation into one service. People use Google Groups to communicate and share around a topic of mutual interest. Google has these groups of interest to librarians and those who want to know more about Google features and updates:
We have set up this 23 Things On a Stick Google Group so we can share our efforts with 23 Things On a Stick. You will receive an invitation to participate once you have registered your blog.
2. Meebo is an IM aggregator; it lets you view/chat with all of your IM accounts from one window. Nebraska Library Commission has posted a neat video showing one of their training sessions on Meebo for their staff. You can access it on at: It's about 18 minutes long but interesting if you are considering or want to look into Meebo a little closer for your library this gives you some good information about working with the program and how to set up a MeeboMe widget. If you use Meebo now or decide to try it, blog about the experience.
3. Twitter has had a lot of play in library literature. Described as “…a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”
  • Set up a Twitter account and “Tweet” with some of your co-workers or other 23 Thing participants. How can you use this in libraries?
These presentations from BIGWIG Social Software Showcase 2007 give explanations of Twitter and its expansion features:


Jeanne said...

Actually, AIM has a basic chat that you can use without downloading anything. You may need to add it to your allowed popups. It's called AIM express.

Bloggin BB said...

When I click on the videos to watch them, they do not play. A message appears that says that "they are no longer available." Anyone else? Can you give a direct link to them in YouTube?

Ann WS said...

I just checked them again and they worked. Here are the YouTube links:
Instant Message
Text a Librarian

Hope these work for you!

Happy said...

We mostly rely on web conferencing for all of our biz needs. Its the most notable revolution which Web 2.0 brings for us. Its been 5 months that we start using for all kinda biz purposes and it really almost triple our business revenue as we don't have to travel places to have interaction with clients. Exporters as us now shall spend more time on exploring more potential markets.

bookwormishnerd said...

I also stumbled upon 12 Seconds, which is similar to Twitter except it uses 12 second videos to describe what you are doing now.