A Friday Five

I’m taking a breather between projects and decided to write another Friday Five.

1. Zoho (Tagline: “Work. Online”)

I had heard of Zoho in several places but I’ve never worked with it until today. Essentially, Zoho offers “cloud computing” applications focused on office productivity. Why is this appealing? Well, cloud computing generally means no longer needing to worry about leaving that USB stick at home. All files are constantly available for use online. Many readers will no doubt be familiar with Google Docs (a basic word processor application offered by Google; there are also a presentation and spreadsheet applications), but Zoho offers more. What exactly? It offers (for free): a wiki, a word processor, a web conferencing tool (would like to test this!), an invoice creator, and a project management tool. I tested the word processor and it does appear to be compatible with Microsoft Word.

2. Book Camp (Toronto, June 6 2009)

This one-day event is all about books and their future, with an emphasis on publishing. The event will be using an “unconference” fashion (still a new idea to me; here’s the Wikipedia entry
– in brief, “there is no agenda until .. the attendees made one up.”). Some interesting topics to be explored include: online book communities, digital marketing, books and podcasts etc). I am planning to attend and hope to write an entry about it.

3. Custom Search Engine: Indeed

Indeed is a search engine that specializes in searching job listings. It has a simple interface wherein one supplies some key words and a location (i.e. a city or province). A search for “librarian” generated 33 results today across Canada while a search for “accoutant” generated 2,225 results and a search for “lawyer” generated 768 results. While it is far from comprehensive, it is a useful tool to play around with. One great feature is the ability to set up email alerts so you can be informed about new positions of interest. If you’re employed (or in management), this tool is still useful since you can use it to see what skills are being mentioned.

4. How To Do An Annual Reports that People Remember: The British Library Annual Report for 2007-2008 and the Columbus Metropolitan Library Report

Annual reports have the reputation of being boring documents, but that is changing. The British Library report referenced above is an engaging work of art that is a pleasure to use. The “front page” of the report offers three videos: a statement by a fiction author who used the BL, a conservator and a businesswoman who used the BL. In each case, you have a reference to the BL staff who assisted these people and you can watch a video of the staff member explain who they are and what they do. In fact, video is used heavily through the website to good effect. However, video does not work for everyone so the British Library has also offered a text only version of its report. The Report itself has four themes: Shaping (public debate on major issues), Understanding (other cultures and eras through our exhibitions and events), Advancing (access to our collections through new and exciting technology), and Developing (our people to provide the best service for our users). The Library has even presented its hard data in novel and engaging ways. I learned that the British Library had about 24.5 million searches performed on its catalogue in 2007-2008 and created about 9.6 million digital images in the same period. Well done! This is a model for libraries around the world to study.

On this side of the Atlantic (thanks to Tame The Web for pointing this out), we have the Annual Report of the Columbus Metropolitan Library (Columbus, Ohio – home of the OCLC and Ohio State University). The report puts an emphasis on the recession, the innovation nature of the report (an interesting emphasis on stories) and the green nature of the report. The last point is worth thinking about further; if we shift funds from printing expensive glossy reports to sophisticated websites, maybe that would be a better use of funds…

5. The Creating Future Libraries Notebook

Sometimes it helps to think on paper and this notebook explores that idea. Thanks to the Librarian in Black for mentioning it. One possible use for these would to buy a few (they’re only $3 US each) and distribute them at a staff meeting. Get people thinking using a new tool and make meetings more interesting. I would also imagine that these notebooks could be a good idea to get a new project off the ground, when it is still in the defining stage.

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