How's that for an ear-catching title? Brian Mathews at Georgia Tech is working on a really interesting project. OK, so we know some libraries have created pages in places where patrons hang out, like MySpace. I use a Pubsub feed to look for anyone who's blogged about the University of Calgary, and on rare occasions have been able to leave a library-related comment. Well Brian's mashed those ideas up. Check out his post on alt ref for the details, including a screencast, but here it is in a nutshell.
He created an account at Xanga and LiveJournal - first as a library, but later as his human incarnation. For the purposes of his study he subscribed to the RSS feeds of 20 GT student blogs at those sites (explained in the paper). But what he's done that seems really innovative to me is that he's using the Bloglines keyword alert feature to monitor the postings in each of those student blogs for words such as assignment, library, help, paper, project, etc. So if any of these words shows up in a post by a GT student he checks out the post, and if it is indeed a library or research-related post, he chimes in with some suggestions for help. How cool is that? Yeah, it's a little like evesdropping on the students sitting around the Information Commons, but the students don't seem to mind at all, according to Brian.
And this gets to the core of Brian's thinking that "we need to get out from behind the desk and help students when and where they need it." Surely in your physical library you don't just wait at the reference
desk for poor souls to come to you. Every once in a while you wander around the computers, and even occasionally offer assistance to someone who looks obviously lost, right? What do you think of this idea?
Technorati Tags: libraries, Xanga, LiveJournal, AltRef, GT