Currently, I am taking a course in Web 2.0/Social Media. The only social media platform I use with any frequency is Facebook, but I recognize that as librarians, it’s important for us to learn about what else is out there. In The Cybrarian’s Web, author Cheryl Ann Peltier-Davis says the advantages of Web 2.0 tools includes “delivery of highly customized…service to clients,” furthering “the democratization of the web,” and enabling “survival in a competitive landscape.” Experiencing different tools helps us stay current, and enables us to promote our libraries where many of our users hang out online. Some of the tools discussed below may not be new, but are worth checking out, and are detailed in Peltier-Davis’ book.
Created by Techsmith, Jing is a screen capture/screencasting software that is free to download. It’s easy to use and lives at the top of your computer screen so users can easily takes pictures of what’s on the screen. Videos are limited to 5 minutes however. This tool is perfect for making short tutorials for patrons.
Acquired by Amazon in 2008, Shelfari allows users to search for, share, and review their favorite books. The “virtual bookshelves” can be made public or private. Users who already have an Amazon account can use those credentials to login. This tool is great for reader’s advisory, and can be linked with Facebook and Twitter.
Libguides is a powerful content management system that enables creation of educational websites. Often used by academic libraries, it is superb for creating subject guides. It could be used in public libraries for teen or college students who need assistance with complex assignments, or for genealogical researchers.
Ustream is a “web-based broadcasting [platform].” Users can sign up with their existing Facebook account, and are able to broadcast to multiple users. All that’s needed is a computer with an internet connection, microphone, and webcam. Users can even use iPads to create and watch shows. To access more advanced features, you need to pay after the 30 day trial. Potentially, this could be used for online programming, such as tutorials or homework help.
There are many more wonderful resources available for libraries to engage their patrons and keep up with today’s trends. Finding tools that can be easily integrated into what your library is already doing can make utilizing Web 2.0 platforms easier. Hopefully these will jumpstart some creative ideas for your library.
 Cheryl Ann Peltier-Davis, The Cybrarian’s Web: An A-Z Guide to 101 Free Web 2.0 Tools and Other Resources, (Medford: Information Today, 2012).