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A colleague of mine at work forwarded information about this to our reference librarians, but I just read about it on Jenny Levine’s blog: the idea of using Meebo’s IM widget in the library catalog to create a user-librarian interaction at the point of need. Our library has gone back and forth about using IM at the reference desk for years, without actually doing anything. We have a student population of mostly residential students, with no distance learning component at all. Never seemed like IM would be necessary in our library.

However, I can see the benefits of using IM or chat in the library catalog, even on a residential campus. Questions about using our library catalog are probably the second most frequent interaction at the reference desk, behind searching for journal articles. If students could chat with a reference librarian while they were having difficulties in the catalog, we could help the students at the point of need, rather than interrupting their research and having them come down to the main floor or over to the reference desk to ask a question. The Meebo widget could be a great solution.

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Good post on Infoblog about best Web 2.0 practices and the library catalog.  The idea of cross-promotion within the library by way of library catalog is a good use of Web 2.0 technologies to manufacture interest in the library and what we are doing.

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Today I have been thinking a lot about book discussions and libraries, particularly academic libraries.  My library is sponsoring a faculty book discussion next week, around the book The View From the Center of the Universe, and it got me thinking about why my library doesn’t do more book discussion projects.  Time is, of course, the first reason which comes to mind.  But it shouldn’t be that hard considering we are an academic library and have access to great material and a faculty who are generally fond of the library and the programming we provide.   Laura Cohen writes about adding value to the library; not just through marketing our collections, but also through engaging users in social and participatory websites that discuss books.  One example she uses is the creation of discussion blogs revolving around campus reading programs or visiting writers.  A library website or blog is the perfect place to start these virtual discussions.  People recognize the word “library” and may have an old-fashioned idea about our mission or may see us as just dusty warehouses of books.  Since people are going to the web for book discussions, shouldn’t we be there when go looking?

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Tired of that sad ‘ol picture you use to populate your MySpace, Facebook, website and other social networking tools?  Well…mEgo is here to help!  Design and build your own customized avatar to use on the web and share with your friends.  What is neat, though, is that you create the look of your avatar, even as you create “hot spots” on your mEgo body that link to your favorite content (polls, websites, blogs, etc.).  Interesting concept and bound to take off.

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I’m currently taking a class in Second Life and we posted our first impressions of the virtual world to the class forum today.  One of my classmates posted this interesting article about a professor’s “second thoughts about Second Life”, which raises some important legal and ethical concerns about institutions of higher learning using and requiring students to participate in Second Life.  Among them:

What about a complaint by a student who agrees to meet the teacher’s avatar outside of class but in-world and then witnesses or engages in an unwanted virtual act? Or a claim of emotional distress filed by a student exposed to virtual shootings or any number of sexist, racist, homophobic, or offensive avatar behaviors?

Who is responsible?

Did you, as a faculty member who assigned your students an exercise on Second Life, have appropriate warnings in your syllabus for such scenarios? Will you have to pay legal fees to defend yourself if you signed up for Second Life and required your students to do so, too, without informing your supervisor?

Does your institution’s top administration or its legal, ombudsman, and equity offices even know about sexual harassment in virtual worlds? Has your campus teaching center promoted virtual-life games without investigating guidelines for use?

Based on its terms of service, Linden Lab may have anticipated some of those questions. It identifies itself as a distributor of content and, as such, “has very limited control, if any, over the quality, safety, morality, legality, truthfulness, or accuracy of various aspects of the Service.

That burden may fall on you.

These issues need to be discussed before land is bought, avatars created, classes formed inside the virtual world.

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Kathryn Greenhill writes about the shifting of libraries’ power and Library 2.0 on her blog, Librarians Matter.   Kathryn makes some valid points about this shift in power:  users creating their own idea of a library and the power of libraries to take risks.  I think for years we were so bound by tradition and the idea of libraries as gatekeepers that it is exciting and liberating to be out there risking change to these traditions.  I know many libraries are still struggling with this fearsome idea of change and risk-taking — I mean, come on, many of us did not become librarians because we are in it for the adventure!  Taking on social networking tools and risking the house on letting users add tags to your catalog can be scary stuff for those who have done business the same way for forty years or more.

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This article from the Read/Write Web blog is about future web trends — and most are, except for a couple that suspiciously sound like they are here already: personalization and online video/TV?

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