Vere Harmsworth Library


The VHL started experimenting with web 2.0 tools in October 2007, as follows:

News blog (Public)

http://vereharmsworthlibrary.blogspot.com
The blog replaced our static news page on our website back in November 2007. The old news page was cumbersome to maintain (manual archiving, no automatic RSS feed unless maintained separately via OXITEMS), whereas via blogging software it is very quick and easy to post updates.
The blog news feed publishes to Facebook (via an RSS app), Twitter (via Twitterfeed), and our website on the CMS, so everything posted there publishes in multiple locations from only one update. The RSS feed is routed via Feedburner, which tracks statistics on usage and also offers email subscriptions for readers who may not wish to subscribe directly to the RSS feed.
I use the blog as a central point for the VHL's various web presences, both with the feed going out as above, but also pulling things in from other sites. There are widgets on the sidebar for our new accessions (via LibraryThing) and latest delicious bookmarks, as well as a Meebo IM widget and various other links and feeds (eg the Rothermere American Institute newsfeed).
As well as via Feedburner, statistics are gathered from sitemeter.

Resources blog (Public)

http://vhlresources.blogspot.com
I created a dedicated resources blog in December 2010. This blog is intended to focus more on the resources and collections available for US Studies at the VHL, in Oxford and online. There are reciprocal widgets to and from the main VHL blog, but I am currently posting new posts to Facebook and Twitter manually while the blog itself is still new and squeaky round the edges and I'm getting a feel for how best to publicise it and share its content.
The resources blog is intended to supplement and expand upon the online guides on LibGuides, but it's still very much a work in progress and I'm trying out various types of posts to get a feel for what is useful to our readers. I'm hoping it will both be a useful promotional tool for new and existing resources, as well as build up into an archive for future reference.

Blog (Staff)

[Restricted to VHL staff]
We started to use a blog for staff in March 2010 to communicate bits and pieces of information relevant to staff working on the desk, particularly for part time staff who may not overlap much with others. It's an efficient way to pass on information, rather than random notes and emails, but for really vital pieces of information we tend to email anyway (to guarantee everyone sees it), and a lot is still passed on face-to-face. Nevertheless I think the blog has improved our information sharing! It was inspired by similar blogs at the SSL and Education Library, and we started it up after all staff had been blogging as part of 23 Things and therefore felt more comfortable with the idea!

Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/VereHarmsworthLibrary
We originally set up a group, which had an initial flurry of interest (and joinings) but then stagnated somewhat, with very little contribution from its members. In January 2008, after the pages facility was introduced, I set up a page for the VHL instead. Our fan numbers have grown very steadily and we now have around 100. Our blog news feed is imported to the page - originally via the Notes application, but for some reason that became unreliable and so now I use an app called RSS Graffiti. We also have tabs on the page for readers to search SOLO directly and to view our new accessions via the LibraryThing app. Facebook provides page owners with a lot of useful statistics, including a weekly email that shows we get looked at a lot (generally 300+ views per week). We get very little interaction back from users, but I always make sure to check the page once a day in case. I think it is increasingly expected that libraries and organisations will be on Facebook, and it provides a way for our news and information to go to our readers for very little effort on my part! We rarely post status updates, instead mostly just using it as another place to publish our blog newsfeed, but I do update the status directly if there's something immediate and minor that wouldn't merit a blog post but is useful to publicise.

Twitter

http://twitter.com/vhllib
I set up a Twitter account for the VHL in April 2009. It is primarily used like our Facebook page, as another place to publish our news via our blog newsfeed, which autoposts to Twitter via Twitterfeed. However we also use it for immediate newsflashes (eg, wireless is down, the photocopier's broken etc) and minor bits of news that wouldn't merit a whole post on the blog. I also follow a variety of other libraries and organisations relevant to US studies via the library Twitter, and retweet things of interest. Our number of Twitter followers has grown steadily and we now have over 100.
I use Brizzly to keep an eye on the twitter account throughout the day, as I also manage the twitter account for the Rothermere American Institute and have a couple of personal accounts. Brizzly is a web-based client that allows you to view and post to multiple Twitter (and Facebook) accounts.

Delicious

http://delicious.com/vhllib
I've been saving bookmarks on delicious since October 2007 and we now have nearly 300 sites listed. With a couple of exceptions, the sites saved are free web resources that are useful for Americanists, particularly US historians. There are an enormous amount of fantastic resources available, particularly digitisation projects and historical projects, and delicious provides us with a way to list these for our readers to find, and also for me to be able to find again when I am responding to enquiries and want to send someone a link to a site I know they'd find helpful. We tag the sites to provide filtered lists, although I'll admit our tagging system could do with a little improvement and tidying - one day!
Our latest delicious bookmarks are displayed on our blog sidebar and also on our website (although the CMS is temperamental when it comes to javascript widgets), and post automatically to our Twitter when saved. I also post a summary of recently saved sites on our blog every couple of weeks, using the export function from delicious.
We promote our delicious list to users alongside all our other library resources - it is listed in our guides and we have put delicious widgets on our LibGuides.

LibraryThing

http://www.librarything.com/catalog/vhllib
http://www.librarything.com/profile/vhllib
http://www.librarything.com/venue/2857/Vere-Harmsworth-Library
We have been using LibraryThing to promote our new accessions since November 2007. Each month I use the batch upload facility to add the most recent accessions list, as generated from OLIS. LibraryThing pulls all the ISBNs off our new accessions webpage and finds the books to add to our LibraryThing catalogue. We only use it for the most recent month's new books in order to stay under the 200 books free limit, and also to maintain it as being for new books, rather than as a cumulative list.
The most useful aspect of LibraryThing for new accessions is the facility to get nice visual displays with covers. We have a widget on our blog and also have installed the LibraryThing app on our Facebook page, which makes our new books nice and prominent on other sites. Uploading the new accessions to LibraryThing also allows readers to subscribe to an RSS feed of new accessions. We could use this feed to autopost to other sites (blog/Facebook/Twitter), but as we upload in one big batch each month it would overwhelm them and probably annoy people!
We have also claimed and maintain our listing on LibraryThing Local. This is a directory of libraries and bookshops on the site. Most Oxford libraries are listed, but by claiming our listing we can link it to our LibraryThing profile and also ensure that the information on there is up to date and accurate.

Instant Messaging (Meebo)

I created an identity on Meebo for the library. Meebo allows you to manage multiple IM accounts in one location, as well as install chat boxes on your other sites. We installed the Meebo widgets on both our website and our blog, but they have hardly been used and are essentially inactive. I know other libraries have had great success with IM, but it doesn't seem to have worked for us!

Wiki

[Restricted to VHL staff]
Our staff manual is now online as a wiki on Wetpaint. It is a much more flexible way to manage your staff manual, as it is easy to keep updated and also easy for all staff (and 'guest' staff who are just helping out to cover) to access all the information needed. It is not used too much by staff day-to-day (although we maintain a missing books list on there), but is a fantastic resource particularly for training new and temporary staff - as any staff manual should be! Having it as a wiki just makes it less of a chore to keep it accurate. At first we also used it as an issue desk notice board, much like we now use our staff blog, but that fell by the wayside somewhat and the blog now fulfills this need.

WorldCat

http://www.worldcat.org/profiles/vhllib/lists
We have made use of the social features on the web-based version of WorldCat to make a list of a set of un-catalogued microfiches (for which we were having difficulty obtaining MARC records and which would be a huge job to catalogue properly). We obviously hope to catalogue them on OLIS at some point, but all the while they are sitting in our backlog, having the online list makes the fiches accessible to readers who would otherwise not know we had them.