American news habits and information needs

A week ago, during a multi-organization meeting about how public libraries play a role in connecting federal and state policy information to the community members in need of the real scoop, the topic of broadband access was teased out in a couple salient directions. One I found particularly wanting further discussion is how disconnected a community can become from changing government directions (think the Covered California insurance marketplace as an example) when its online access is limited to public computers? It’s not that skills like using a mouse or email continue to lack penetration; instead, what hasn’t bloomed in such circumstances is the habit of staying informed around civic engagement concerns.

How do we, as information specialists–and civil servants, help community members build the skills and the habits which constant news updating require of anyone participating in our culture?

Joachim Scopfel, Director of the Atelier National de Reproduction des Thèses, Charles de Gaulle University (France), has published an infographic that gives us not only numbers related to how Americans share news, but also points up the very venues for news that may not, after all, be all that available to all Americans. And even when technical availability exists, are community members engaging the most efficient methods for accessing policy updates? The research shows a continuing reliance on email over social media, as the online channel for updates. As with all correspondence, email brings with it the requirement that the recipient evaluate the authority of the sender: is the news included reliable, timely, and appropriate to the recipient’s own situation? On the other hand, a direct Twitter feed, from, in this example, Covered California, guarantees the authority and timeliness, while each message’s design should allow the reader to be able to judge quickly whether it pertains to her situation.

As information guides, can we boost community access to what’s official, help direct community members’ attention to how they, impacted as they know they are by government policy and policy changes, can take control over keeping abreast of those policy news bits, bites and bytes that affect them? What does tech access education look like in libraries offering the news skills needed as we approach the first quarter point of the 21st century?

Twitter as a professional development tool, q&a

A few hours ago, we hosted a webinar on Using Twitter for Professional Development–right up to the moment when the interwebs decided to shut down. Happily, Infopeople’s planful staff had been collecting accruing questions over the previous 52 minutes and Adobe did not erase them when it made like a newspaper and folded. So, here’s a belated series of responses, an expression of thanks for your patience, and a really truly unintended extra plug to consider the webinar’s encouragement to go Twitter.

Sarah asked: What if you don’t have a smartphone? How easy is it to use?

Francisca: In fact, one of Twitter’s strengths for those who really want to access it any time anywhere is that it works just fine on a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. It is platform agnostic. Some Twitter apps, including TweetDeck, provide nice shortcuts, but any accessing and communicating on Twitter via any internet-connecting equipment with a screen is serviceable and simple.

Sarah:  Do you check Twitter like you might check Facebook throughout the day?

Francisca: This comes under the topics of both time budgeting and responsible professional behavior. As with any social media venue (including Facebook), how often you’re accessing it at work can dilute the time you are assigned to spend doing other duties. A good rule of thumb for many professionals is to align your Twitter catch up time with your email or phone message time: when you start your day, perhaps at lunch, last thing before calling the workday over. This can be tweeked, of course, if you have planned with coworkers to participate in a live-Tweeted event (such as an author interview, a conference program you are attending virtually, etc.) at a specific time…just as you might have scheduled your real time attendance at this afternoon’s webinar.

Darlene: Do you have your staff create twitter accounts using their work information so it can be used for professional development?

Francisca: Great question for Twitter, Darlene, and hope you put it out there and report on your findings! We are responsible for keeping up on professional development, and our workplaces should be supportive–as noted in Tenet 8 of the ALA Code of Ethics.  You as an individual should not expect that all professional development will come to you via your employer–and your employer does have reason to make your accessvto professional development opportunities possible. Of course, if you are expected to use Twitter to speqk there on behalf of your organization, then the account used should be workplace information based.

Sarah: What are the negative implications of just having one Twitter account and not one private and one public?

Francisca: We touched on this just as the big webinar ending crash arrived. Quick recap: if you are really a confirmed Twitter user in your social/family life, you probably want to be careful to keep your professional Twitteratti from overlistening to the exchange you might be having that is, well, personal….asking your son to report in since it’s now 2 am and he was expected home with your car at midnight, etc. Of course, judicious use of direct messaging can address this matter, too, and there are lots of Twitter authorities who swear it’s better to have just one Twitter account and keep your singular persona scrubbed and professional-enough.

Sandra: Is @infotweets in Spanish?

Francisca: I would love such a volunteer to identify him/herself!

Tracey: Do you have a preference for URL shortener? Does one create shorter URLs than another?

Francisca: I go back and forth between bit.ly and tinyURL…for no inarguable reason. Many sites will present you with pre-shrunk URLs ready-made for tweeting. A word of caution on shrinking what you want people to open: if the original URL isn’t 50 yards long, by tweeting it in full you give your audience the welcome opportunity to see the provenance of the link before clicking on it. Good hygiene reduces viruses, we all know.

Angela: Is there any library that uses Twitter to communicate among its staff to keep them current on library info?

Francisca: Here’s another question to take to Twitter and ask broadly. I’d like to hear, too, Angela, what kind of info you have in mind that would best be transmitted by the library to its own staff via this method?

And here’s that URL shrinker post I promised: 5 URL Shorteners, which also discusses why shortening may not be exactly what you want to do all the time.

Springing the Numbers

At the onset of April, we posted Infopeople’s busy and rich offerings for the month. And, wow, library staff got busy, too, and signed up, signed in, and signified a grand scale of engagement! Here’s a scan of how all that busy busy busy quantified:

  • Online courses that opened in April have 137 participants engaged.
  • Free webinars broadcast in April met with a combined audience of 707 viewers of the live events, and their archives were tapped 966 additional times!
  • Online independent learning series continued to draw new registrants, and currently have a combined total of 49 independent learners working through these service focus areas.

And here are the numbers we see in our social media presence:

  • As April drew to an end, @infotweets has 714 followers on Twitter, and received three to five notices a day of retweeting or favoriting by library leaders, staff and library staff development fans of posts we tweeted.
  • Infopeople’s Facebook page collected four new friends, bringing the total there to 414. We share our own events as well as compelling library world stories there, with our posts in April earning 134 Likes and/ Shares.
  • With the news that Google+ is likely on its way out, Infopeople is refocusing energy from that venue to Tumblr. An update on that will appear here soon.

Moving the Infoblog back to WordPress has made it much more discoverable. April’s podcasts and written posts on the blog saw 700 visitors beside all of you who subscribe directly or catch blog posting alerts on Twitter or Facebook.

With all that for April, there is no laurel resting now that May has bloomed. Upcoming this month are four new online courses, for which you can still register; at least five new free webinars; and ongoing opportunities to dive into our three currently open online independent learning series (Teaser: we’ve got another couple of those, on very different topics, in the works, planning for debut before the end of summer). In addition to all that, two of three limited enrollment sessions of an onground course opportunity, Mentoring: Challenge and Support in Equal Measures, are slated for May (with the third iteration in June).

So count yourself in and spring into some accessible professional development!

Lots of training news!

Is there really a slow time around Infopeople training roll outs?  Nah! And so far, this August is proving to be busy for those of us creating lots of new content areas and formats for library staff training and development!

Here’s an overview of what’s happening, and a glimpse ahead, too:

With the Affordable Care Act approaching a new stage, that of health insurance enrollment, libraries and library staff have been called upon to prepare to assist our community members to accessing information and the tools needed to expedite individual and family enrollments. There is a humongous amount of information for us all to recognize and absorb–and we know you are already busy. So, upcoming very soon is Infopeople’s online resources page dedicated to leading you and your staff to the most urgent Affordable Care Act news and resources. By “soon,” you can think “end of this very week.”

Also in the hopper related to the Affordable Care Act is a webinar featuring our excellent Kelli Ham, along with the ever knowledgeable Barbara Bibel, and another panelist from Covered California. The one-hour webinar is scheduled for noon, on Monday, September 9. Kelli, besides being a librarian at UCLA, is Infopeople’s link with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region. Barbara has been certified by the Medical Library Association and regularly provides training to public library staff around health and wellness materials.

As of Sunday, the independent online learning series Infopeople has hosted for UC Davis, titled Health and Wellness Competencies, has moved to Infopeople’s direct aegis.  Any generalist who wants to gain a better understanding of how to deliver health and wellness information to his or her library community, making use of best practices, can enroll in this six-module wholly asynchronous series by registering on the Infopeople training site. While this series does not address the Affordable Care Act, we have another series of independent online learning rolling out in September, titled Affordable Care Act @ Your California Library.

And speaking of independent online learning series, what had been called CORE 2: Subject Area Reference is now titled Subject Area Reference. We’ve returned its layout to that of a single strand with six modules, one evaluation and one certificate of completion.

With two fully developed independent online series already underway and a couple more in development, this is a good time to remind everyone that these series are low cost ($25 for Californian library staff, with free registration for rurals, and $50 for out of state participants). Each series is available for registration any time and each one runs all the time. A participant has two months to work at his or her own rate on any of the modules within the series for which he or she has registered.

Now, if you would like to receive such updates in breaking moment and perhaps more specifically concise way, here’s a reminder that you can follow Infopeople on Twitter (@infotweets), receive updates on Facebook by “liking” us there(facebook.com/infopeople.org), connecting your RSS feed to Infopeople’s home page, and/or making sure you are subscribing to this blog.

 

 

Happy New Social Media Year

Here at Infopeople, the new year brings a generous buffet of free webinars, high ROI online courses, and a variety of special projects. You’ll continue to hear about these from time to time right here on the Infoblog.

This blog, of course, is one form of social media we use to spread news, ideas and experiences to you, our community of librarians, library fans, library lovers and cognescenti. We are stirring the pot in some other social media channels as well:

Our Twitter feed, @infotweets, offers what we hope is a rich diet of curated info relevant to libraries, information management, literacy and literature, and cool ideas from other fields that you might just be able to find relevant for your library work. The keyword there is curated: follow us on Twitter and you’ll get just in time news of published research reports and professional events currently underway, but not much (maybe not any) movie celebrity sightings or updates on how we feel about the barista at the local coffeehouse.

Our Facebook page, too, has been restored to a venue we are updating with both status reports–and events such as upcoming free webinars–and postings of news you might use as you consider ways to reconceive problems or issues that have been in your face for so long you may need a jog or reminder that there are indeed different perspectives to consider, perspectives that could offer renewed energy and solution forming locally. (Some of what we tweet also gets featured on our Facebook page, but just the stuff that seems to cry out for a longer discovery period for its potential audience).

Pretty soon we’ll be revamping our Google+ presence and stepping into Tumblr as well.

All these media channels help form our social footprint–and you know what that means: we want responses and leads from you. Armchair travel is fun, but getting back to the author after you’ve visited the place in person enriches everyone.

Happy new year!