Monday, May 2, 2011

Diigo... Delicious... What's the Big Deal?

Social bookmarking has been around for a while now, and is really starting to take off. Why? It's convenient (always having your favorite websites at your fingertips) and allows for easy sharing with friends (interesting articles, professional information, and, of course, this week's must-see viral YouTube video).

Roush, W. (2005). Tagging is it. Technology Review, 108(6), 21-22. Retrieved January 15, 2011 from EBSCOhost.

Why social bookmarking? It allows you to share things you find interesting, and creates an organized "list" of the things you share so you can easily access them from anywhere (so long as you have an internet connection). You "tag" the websites you save (add keywords you can use to search) and can see websites others are posting. Just as is the case with conversation, different people use different words for the same things so, while tagging isn't perfect, it can still be helpful. "But a bunch of people doing 'okay' tagging may actually have a higher net value than an authoritative organization telling you how information should be organized," says Joshua Schachter, the creator of Delicious (Roush, 22).

Gilmour, R., & Stickland, J. (2009). Social bookmarking for library services: Bibliographic access through Delicious. College & Research Libraries News, 70(4), 234-7. Retrieved January 15, 2011 from Education Full Text database

How does this impact libraries? Your patrons now have their bookmarks wherever they go, including the library. Traditional browser-based bookmarking tools were specific to one computer and were difficult to share. Tagging helps users create connections between different bookmarks and share with other users things they find interesting. It is the opposite of the traditional "top down" subject heading approach to information management. Lists can be shared with library users by embedding code in existing public webpages.


How can this be used in the classroom? One, it helps you as instructor librarian stay organized, wherever you are. Two, have you ever had students researching something fairly new or doing website assessment? Bingo! You've got great tools at your disposal: tagging and sharing. Coming up with a unique course tag (i.e. UDSoc112) can help students search and see what sorts of things their classmates are finding. For one of my graduate-level courses I used others' tags in Goodreads to find new-to-me reading materials.


Which social bookmarking tool should you use? It depends on what you are interested in doing. I will discuss two, Delicious and Diigo. The fate of Delicious has been up in the air for quite some time with the latest announcement that the creators of YouTube have acquired Delicious and is becoming part of AVOS, a new internet company. With this change, current Delicious users need to transfer their bookmarks sometime before July 2011. The transfer process is pretty simple (entering in name, contact information, and agreeing to the new AVOS terms of use). The benefits outlined above for social bookmarking are what make Delicious such a great tool--that and it's one of the (if not the) top bookmarking tools today, so if your main interest is sharing with friends, Delicious is a great tool for you to use. Other features include the ability to post to Facebook and Twitter.

Let's talk Diigo. Diigo gives you a toolbox allowing you to bookmark, highlight, add sticky notes, images, notes, and documents. All of the annotations are stored in the cloud and can be seen by you from anywhere, as long as you've logged in. You add tags, just like Delicious, but you can also upload the entire webpage (saved as HTML and an image) to make sure you have it later (should it change online). The annotation tools are simple and also allow you to capture and mark up screen shots to share with others in your library. You can also mark things to read later. iPhone's offline reader downloads pages to read later. Diigo seems to have all the bells and whistles beyond Delicious's current offerings. For new users, that may be a barrier.


Tucker, Christy. (2008, March 29). Diigo or Delicious for Beginners? Retrieved from

According to Christy Tucker, the features that make Delicious approachable are that it is so basic, lots of tutorials are available, and it can be a gateway to Diigo (easily import bookmarks). As I mentioned before, Diigo has a lot going for it, and it's visually more appealing than Delicious. You don't have to use all of the features Diigo offers, but it is nice having them there.


Over the years Diigo has added helpful (albeit a little bland) tutorials that nicely explain the features and how to best use them). For me the real difference is the ability to annotate (and share annotations) and save entire pages to be viewed offline. I was one who started with Delicious but have decided to embrace the other features Diigo offers.


Also consulted:

Pierce, David. (2008, November 8). 7 reasons Diigo tastes better than Delicious. Retrieved April 25, 2011 from

Stolley, K. (2009). Integrating social media Into existing work environments: The case of Delicious. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 23(3). 350-371. DOI: 10.1177/1050651909333260

What’s next for Delicious? (2010). Delicious Blog. Retrieved January 16, 2011 from

Tech Blog Discussion: How To: Start Marketing [Your Library] on Foursquare (Part 2)

Fighter, D., & Wisniewski, J. (2010). Incentives, loyalty, and recommendations: Learning From social media. Online, 34(6), 54-57. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

So, you're interested in exploring the possibilities of using Foursquare to market your library and it's services. Now what?

Fighter and Wisniweski talk about many of the features in my first Foursquare post and move on to it's potential for libraries. Libraries have sometimes been hesitant to use incentive programs with their patrons (perhaps it is a cost concern, or a perceived conflict with their mission). Whatever the case, some libraries are seeing the value in rewarding their patrons. Rewards don't have to mean items (which do cost money); they can also mean earning a title, recognition, or being provided with a fun bit of information. Loyalty programs help to create a sense of community (different from "Friends of the Library" type programs that are primarily about fundraising) and can partner well with things like already established summer reading programs. Another example the authors gave was to have a library badge Easter egg hunt, "finding" different "Easter eggs" (badges) around the library (or libraries) or around campus. This idea was modified from a highly effective Old Navy marketing campaign.

Ekart, D. (2010). Tech tips for every librarian. Location, location, location: Making Foursquare work for your library. Computers in Libraries, 30(9), 42-43. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Ekart expands on Fighter and Wisniweski's ideas, focusing more on the communication Foursquare helps facilitate. The comments users can leave (whether via smartphone or via the program's web interface) allows libraries to better serve their patrons--It is a direct connection to what library users (in this population) are thinking. Ekart suggested claiming your venue so you can add more tags, which make it easier for users to find your library and take advantage of the services and resources you offer. Also sharing tips about your services, or using it as an orientation tool in academic libraries (i.e. tours where students may unlock badges) are discussed. Providing prizes in regards to gaming rewards is also mentioned.

New York Public Library. (2011, March 30). The New York Public Library partners with foursquare to Unveil a new "badge". Retrieved from

The NYPL began using Foursquare at 90 different locations which will help promote physical visits where users can earn badges, and "Mayors" may be entered into a drawing for tickets to NYPL Live events, special library tours.

Public Library Association. (2010). Foursquare for libraries. Public Libraries Online, 49(2).

Foursquare helps you track your users, seeing who they are and what their other interests are (based on their Twitter or other online activities). As a venue owner you can add tags to help promote your library, and you can also use it to give helpful tips when users check in. Things like "Make sure to get a library card!" or "Use one of our databases--get full-text magazine articles!" Users can create to-do lists and suggest venues to their friends. Adding big events to your Foursquare page helps get the word out. Also, responding to user feedback through Foursquare will not only build stronger patron relationships with the library, it will also promote what you do to that patron's friends. Using it for special programs (like summer reading programs) can also help reach a new, active patron group.

What are my personal ideas on Foursquare in libraries, particularly academic libraries? I think it has potential and, with pretty minimal effort, library can utilize some of the services Foursquare provides to start promoting their library at a whole new level. With a little more investment and effort to incorporate Foursquare into programming, I think it could really target tech-savvy students. On a campus-wide scale, libraries could help facilitate campus tours via Foursquare. Not only could students check-in at a building on campus, but the library might provide a "tip" about departments housed within that building, some history, and/or information about how the library supports those areas of study (i.e. helpful resources, name/contact info. of the liaison librarian for that area, etc.). I think students would be interested in becoming "Mayor" of one or more buildings around campus, using Foursquare's element of friendly competition. One of the tips that could be included with the check-in at the library's physical location could be the ask-a-librarian, or a reference-desk visit badge they could earn. All in all, it has potential and is one more (easy) tool to use to market your library. I'm sure having a brainstorming session with colleagues would produce even more great ideas for developing programs using Foursquare.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weeks 14, 15, and 16: Whirlwind End of the Semester!

It is hard for me to believe we are already at the end of the semester! I've continued to assume additional responsibilities as the semester has gone on, putting in extra hours to attend committee meetings, observe and assist with unique info lit sessions, and prepare for our upcoming LOEX presentation. Here's a quick rundown of some of the highlights:
    University of Dubuque, Charles C. Myers Library 
  • After having life-sized cut-outs of people in the library for April's abuse/assault awareness, we spent one morning dismantling the display so it could travel to its next destination (quite a moving display showing the names, ages, and the story of how they died as a result of domestic abuse).
  • LOEX prep, LOEX prep, LOEX prep. (Did I mention LOEX prep?) Anne Marie and I have worked hard to complete both the paper and presentation, sharing our experiences from our internship/mentorship semester, as well as recommendations from the literature. See you in Fort Worth in just a few days! (Here's a sneak-peak at our Prezi:
  • Crafts (not just for elementary teachers, dear friends)! Between helping prep multicolored note card packets (complete with stickers) for the Great American Poetry Race (more on that in a bit) and transcribing colorful handwritten concept maps into electronic form, I was all about being crafty and creative!
  • We had a master's student studying communication host a workshop for the library staff. We talked about effective communication, our habits as a staff, effective leadership, diversity of views & how that helps groups come up with new ideas.
  • Web meeting: What do we like about what we have? What would we like to change? What new technologies would we like to incorporate into our library services and how would that be reflected in our website?
  • Ref desk coverage for a colleague and my regular shifts--always something new there!
  • The Great American Poetry Race: Students work in small groups, racing through a set of cards to find critical sources on their chosen poems. After a brief refresher on library resources, particularly those they'd likely use for this task, the students are on their own to find quality resources (with one "help card" they can cash in for librarian assistance). Progress is charted on the wall and the first group to complete all of their cards receives an awesome prize! The students were really involved with this activity and, while it was competitive, the competition didn't overshadow the learning objectives.
  • Evaluation time! Anne Marie and I scheduled some time to go over the evaluation forms from IU as well as just discuss the internship experience. I won't go into too much detail here, but I am so thankful to have found a place for my internship that matches my student-first philosophy, one that has given me an abundance of opportunities and realistic experience that I can take with me anywhere, not to mention the new friends I have made!
  • Jenny Parker and I prepared and led a book discussion over Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach. The meeting at the end of last week went really well, and reminded me that despite my colleagues having more experience than me, they continue to face the same challenges in and out of the classroom. By opening a dialog and sharing successes and frustrations, I think we were able to better understand each other as librarians and educators. At the end of the discussion, Mary Anne expressed an interest in regularly scheduling other discussion times to continue the professional sharing that happened during our meeting. 
  • OCLC visit day! We hosted a meeting with the Iowa OCLC rep and invited the Loras library folks to join us as we learned about what is available through OCLC's Web-Scale Management Services, what will be available in the near future, and offered suggestions regarding features we like with the current system that aren't readily available through OCLC's product.
Anne Marie Gruber & Cara Stone

It has been a fantastic semester, and I would recommend this experience to anyone interested in librarianship! Many thanks to those who helped coordinate details between Bloomington and Dubuque, and to the UD faculty and staff for helping to develop me as a librarian!

Tech Blog Discussion: How To: Start Marketing [Your Library] on Foursquare (Part 1)

Drell, L. (2011, April 27). How to: Start marketing on Foursquare. Mashable. Retrieved April 27, 2011, from

Foursquare has really taken off in the last year or so, with more than eight million users. Companies, both large and small, have used Foursquare to reach out to their customers, increase business, and promote special programs. This free (yes, FREE) service connects businesses with their customers who have smart phones or other mobile devices.

How do businesses get started with Foursquare?
  • If you are a business with a physical space customers can visit, you would first claim your venue or create a venue using the Merchant Platform. The information you will need to claim or add your venue is:
    • Name
    • Address
    • Cross Street
    • City
    • State
    • Postal Code
    • Country
    • Twitter Handle
    • Phone Number
    • Category
  • After entering in your information and "claiming" the venue, Foursquare will ask you about your business and confirm you are someone who is authorized to claim the venue. You can verify ownership either by phone or postal mail; you'll receive a four-digit pin, a window cling, and can start creating specials to bring the customers through your doors. The specials are:
    • Swarm Special: a special happens only when a certain number of Foursquare users have checked in simultaneously
    • Friends Special: rewards friends when they check in together
    • Flash Special: kind of like the bank deals for those opening up new savings or checking accounts where "the first 500 customers get a free koozie" but better
    • Newbie Special: offers for those checking in for the first time ever
    • Check-In Special: every time someone checks in they get a reward
    • Loyalty Special: rewards given for various checkins, similar to the old punch cards kids used to sell as fundraisers (fill the card, get a deal)
    • Mayor Special: whoever checks in the most (becomes the mayor) and gets a special reward
  • There are short sheets to print out which explain how Foursquare works (for employees, customers).
  • Foursquare is flexible, and updates in real-time.
So, you've signed up. Now what?
  • Analytics. Analytics shows you who is coming through your doors and helps you understand how to best reach them by providing the following information:
    • Number of check-ins
    • Time of each check-in
    • Genders of customers
    • Ages of customers
    • Lists of customers: most recent customers (and their Twitter handles), and your most loyal customers

In addition to getting information from your users who are Foursquare enthusiasts, they also help you by posting their check-ins to Facebook and/or Twitter; you also can follow up with them to learn about their experience, adding a personal touch. Personal touches lead to awesome word of mouth!

But what happens if you don't have a traditional physical location? There are also Brand Pages, which allow you to still interact with customers through Foursquare. The process to set up a Brand Page is similar to other sign-up processes (with a wizard guiding you along the way). The approval process takes about two weeks. This page is customizable and you can add your own logo and redirect users to your website. This functions in a different way than the physical-location check-in. A great example is the History Channel, which has facts about places all over the country, so when users are on vacation they have a tour guide in their pocket! Tips may also be geared toward promoting an upcoming event as well.

Brands can also offer badges to users. Foursquare has their own badges that must be unlocked by completing a series of tasks (kind of like Boy Scouts, you earn them). Brand badges are more specific to the business and are unlocked when users complete tasks relevant to business services or products. Examples include: MOMA's Art Addict badge, and Arizona State University's series of badges (and if you're really curious about badges, you can check out the extensive list on

So, what do the Foursquare experts say about how to best use their services?
  • Make your users feel special! It's not always about discounts and fancy products; it's about the way your users feel when they walk in the door or interact with your services.
  • Target your Foursquare promotions to help your business during those "slower times" of the day/week.
  • Keep staff informed about how to use Foursquare and how to serve Foursquare users.
  • Know your time limitations and be clear about when promotions begin/end.

Ok, that is all good and fine, but how can we incorporate this into a library setting? Check out my next blog post, part 2 of "How To: Start Marketing [Your Library] on Foursquare."