Bibliocommons – Launching a New Service

The Thursday 10:40 am session at OLA 2010 I attended was called "Breaking Down Barriers with Bibliocommons."
 
Bibliocommons is a catalogue interface that exists separately from a library’s integrated library system. Offered through Knowledge Ontario, Bibliocommons incorporates social networking (Web 2.0) concepts such as user reviews, tags, lists and ratings. Bibliocommons was tested at Oakville Public Library, and it has now been launched at several libraries in Ontario and around North America. Presenters from Halton Hills Public Library, Stratford Public Library and Ottawa Public Library discussed how Bibliocommons was launched and promoted at their respective libraries.
 
I found this session offered many tips on how library services can be launched. Among the activities conducted at Oakville Public Library were "creating buzz," play time for staff (using tools such as a list of ten things to try, cheat sheets and checklists), ambassadors that explained the service, and the use of the Bibliocommons list building tool to create reading programs.
 
At Stratford Public Library (part of PCIN– the Perth County Information Network) a staff contest was held. Biblicommons "community credits" were given to staff who contributed tags and comments to the new catalogue social networking interface. A Digital Literacy Librarian position was created for community outreach. Problems in Perth County included bandwidth issues for rural library users and the need for digital literacy training.
 
Halton Hills Public Library used ideas from Seth Godin’s book Unleashing the Idea Virus.
 
For Seth Godin, a remarkable product or service is called a "purple cow"– it is necessary to have a remarkable product in the first place to enable the kind of marketing that respects the web-savvy nature of consumers who can research and evaluate products more effectively than ever before. "Sneezers" are people who can spread ideas like viruses (hence "ideaviruses"). As a way of marketing, sneezers are an alternative to traditional advertising which requires interrupting people from their activities. Sneezers make use of technology that connects people, such as YouTube. Creating a buzz and viral marketing are techniques that Seth Godin helped popularize.
 
One way Halton Hills Public Library connected with the community to spread word of Bibliocommons was to give early access to power users in the community to get their feedback on improving the Bibliocommons experience.
 
For training staff, Halton Halls Public Library provided play time for staff, questions were gathered from staff, and departmental meetings were held. Basically these activities ensured that staff had exposure to Bibliocommons in one way or another.
 
Ottawa Public Library did a gap analysis of the features in Bibliocommons and their previous OPAC. Important to Ottawa Public Library was the French language interface of Bibliocommons. Privacy was a concern, since the social networking component works best if library patrons supply their birth date, but Ottawa Public Library was able to accept the privacy features built into Bibliocommons.
 
Ottawa Public Library needed a catalogue that could integrate with Drupal– the software that manages the content of their public library web site. Other benefits included integrating user account services and using the Bibliocommons search interface in other capacities. I was particularly drawn to the way Ottawa Public Library used the Bibliocommons software tools to link related resources to catalogue records by using common Library of Congress subject heading tags. Linking resources in the catalogue to other resources the library has provides an enormous opportunity to make services more efficient by reducing search time and capturing the expertise of librarians and embedding that understanding of related resources directly into the tools that patrons use both inside and outside the library.
 
The Ottawa Public Library’s Bibliocommons interface to their catalogue can be searched at: http://catalogue.biblioottawalibrary.ca/dashboard
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