Using Web 2.0 Technologies to Push E-Resources
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In the past, electronic resources have been available only through university libraries' websites. In order to access those resources, users would have to wind their way through a multi-layered path, first finding the website, then successfully navigating its many pages, and finally, with a little luck, reaching the databases, e-books and other resources they were seeking. The difficulty of this process has resulted in fairly low usage of many libraries' online materials. Without librarian-led instruction on the existence and location of e-resources, it was unlikely that a user would discover them on his or her own. However, with the advent of new web technologies, libraries can now promote their online offerings in novel, collaborative ways that aim to bring the information to the user, rather than expecting the user to come to the information. Many libraries are exploring different delivery methods, some are already using library blogs and RSS feeds to promote their resources. This presentation will focus on wikis, screencasting, social networking sites, and Google Scholar. Each of these technologies offers specific benefits. Wikis make particularly useful subject guides and pathfinders because they can be quickly updated and are often easier to find and search than embedded subject guides. Screencasting software allows librarians to quickly create streaming videos describing how to search a database or other e-resource. The videos can then be added to You Tube or other video sites, or directly to the library's website. Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace enable libraries to establish a virtual presence to interact with library user's on their turf. Internet search engines such as Google Scholar allow users to run a search and find books and databases without going to the library's website or worrying about which database to select. Though they seem very different, all these Web 2.0 technologies have many commonalities. The technologies are either free or use very inexpensive software that the average librarian can use without knowledge of coding or HTML, they're user created and maintained with little assistance from a library's systems department, and they can exist independently outside the library website or can be linked to it. These technologies have been dubbed Social Software, a title which refers to their participative nature. Wikis, social networking sites, screencasting, and internet search engines can all be used to effectively foster interaction between users and the library; they put your e-resources where your users are and can significantly increase both awareness and usage of your online offerings. It's time for librarians to break out of the library website prison, and Web 2.0 technologies offer the perfect opportunity.