Watch and learn

2 12 2008

Finally, a couple of online academic library tutorials that don’t induce an attack of the cringes, mainly by avoiding design rooted in the mid ’90s and not including annoying running jokes about cats:

The University of Auckland has produced a handsome (if more than a little bit in debt to the Matrix) online tutorial that uses a graphic novel style narrative, about a student researching a project, to guide the user through the library’s services. It incorporates interactive tutorials on the library’s catalogue and a section on help desk FAQ’s.

The University of California offers this tutorial, aimed at students of science, which runs through the scientific method, information literacy, subject based resources, scholarly communication and the peer review process. It also looks good enough to eat.

Put the Facebook down and step away slowly

21 08 2008

Why oh why oh why are people in the academic library world so obsessed with integrating their services into Facebook? There seems so be a prevailing thread of naffness running through some library service’s approach to utilising web 2.0 applications and I for one really can’t see the point in having a library Facebookapplication or flying into a seminar in Second Life. How many students honestly want their academic working life impinging upon what are, fundamentally, applications they use to conduct their social lives? You wouldn’t follow a student into a pub, tap them on the shoulder and remind them to return their books, so why do the digital equivalent? Yes, bookFace and Second Life are vibrant, cool (for the moment) and popular but do you think that if they’d started out as a way of hawking inter-library loans or referencing training they’d still be that way? I’d say probably not. There are good, legitimate ways of using web 2.0 to improve and promote library and information literacy services, things like Slideshare and Delicious, but these are places where social software and accessing information meet in a smooth, organic way, whereas I feel that jumping on the Facebook/Second Life bandwagon is like an18th birthday party where the parents stay for the whole thing: it has all the trappings of fun, the booze, the food, the music, but the parents feel awkward, the kids feel awkward and no-one’s really comfortable enought to enjoy themselves.