Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Our Library Facebook page - pros and cons

Many libraries have a Facebook page where they post library information, announce special events and respond to queries. Anyone can become a “fan” of the Library Facebook page if they are already on Facebook. Those who are not already on Facebook will receive a link, inviting them to join up. Pages are free, however the option of placing paid advertisements is also available.

What has been our library's experience with the Facebook page?

We started the Edith Cowan University Library Facebook page back in March 2008 and now, 15 months later, we have 300 fans. Initially we took the minimalist approach and kept the Facebook wall locked down, as we were not wanting to devote too much staff time to page maintenance. We opened the wall in mid 2008, and we find we do get some messages from our students there.

What Benefits can a library Facebook page deliver?

What I like about the Facebook page is you can you can run an RSS feed into your page, so all our blog posts come up there. You can add videos and photos to give more of a presence. If you are tech savvy you can write a Facebook catalogue search widget. Database search widgets won't work unless you adjust authenication settings. Since June 2009 Facebook page owners have been able to claim their organsiational name for the page, so this will help with brand recognition. We are now Facebook also provides statistics so you can get some good demographics on your fans.

Any Downside?

What I don’t like about the Facebook page, is the lack of control over the interface and the closed network (i.e you need to be a Facebook member to access the site). Facebook’s interface has had two new revamps over the last 15 months and each time we needed to take stock. The latest design gives a more Twitter feel to the pages which we are now trying to exploit.

Where to now?

We probably need to market the Facebook page more and use some of the functionality it does provide. 15 months down the track we are still exploring ways to engage with our fans and keep them coming back.

Was it worth the effort?

Given that it did not take a lot of setting up I would say the return on investment has been OK, but I would not throw huge resources into it. I view it rather as a test bed which will give us a glimpse into future opportunities for libraries to use social media to connect with customers. Facebook may not the best medium for a university library to reach students. It’s just one of many social media options around and worth investigating and we know our students love it. Also, the exercise of setting up a page can expose library staff to social networking media and help them learn new skills ... until the next big thing comes along.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Book review Ben McNeil The Clean Revolution

Photo from jety's photostream

Book review of Ben McNeil’s new book The Clean Industrial Revolution

I recall hearing environmentalist David Suzuki speaking during a visit to Perth in 1999. He was addressing the global challenge of climate change. Someone from the audience asked him: “can science save us?” and Suzuki replied that he wasn’t convinced that it could.

Since that time our region is experiencing the impact of climate change, with fires and record low rainfalls in much of southern Australia. Perth rainfall in 2009 so far is 60% below average.

Ben McNeil’s timely new book, The Clean Industrial Revolution, takes us through the latest scientific research, and provides strong economic arguments that support urgent action on climate. Australia faces a particular challenge in the new low carbon age. Our vulnerable position as a high carbon, high energy economy is isolating Australia from the rest of the developed world and our trading partners. The book outlines many opportunities for business in the new carbon free environment which will include new “green collar jobs”. But, as McNeil points out, business will always act in self interest, so government must lead the way with legislation to introduce a strong carbon trading scheme. Our Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) or Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is a long time in coming.

To quote from the video Discovering the future :the business of paradigms: “when the paradigm shifts everyone returns to go”. McNeil’s book does a good job of outlining ways forward as the paradigm shifts and Australian’s trading partners turn away from high carbon economies like ours.

Ben McNeil is a climate scientist and an economist. He’s also a senior research fellow at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW and is on the executive of Federation of Australasian Scientific and Technological Societies

McNeil’s book should be picked up by public, government, university, TAFE, school and special libraries.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Samuel Pepys tweets

I've found another "lit-twit" even more exciting than Moby Dick: the Samuel Pepys diary.

Some say Samuel Pepys was the original blogger. His famous 17th Century diary gives us a detailed account of personal and public life in Restoration London.

I've been following the diary which is being published online, day by day, on the The Diary of Samuel Pepys website. And since May 2009, the diary is being tweeted day by day at

How is the Tweet being done? Phil Gyford manages the website and the Twitter account. Check out what Phil Gyford says to say about the Twittered diary: for someone already immersed in Twitter it really feels like having a sense of what Sam is up to right “now”.

On the Diary website and on Twitter we are up to June 1666, as the days are more or less synced. The Great Fire of London occurred on 2 September 1666, so stay tuned for an amazing eyewitness account of the Fire in September 2009.

Samuel Pepys maintained his diary for nine years, from 1660-9, writing a personal account of his life, penned in a type of shorthand. He left us "eyewitness accounts of great events, such as the Great Plague of London, the Second Dutch War and the Great Fire of London"

I confess I have not read the whole diary which runs to several volumes, but there's a fascinating account of Pepys' life by Claire Tomalin which first brought Pepys to my attention and I've been fascinated ever since: Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin.