Tag Archives: SMS Reference

Library Thought Leaders Q&A: Mary-Carol Lindbloom (Executive Director South Central Regional Library Council)

Today’s library thought leader is Mary-Carol Lindbloom, the Executive Director for the South Central Regional Library Council in New York state.

When did you get started in reference, and more specifically virtual reference?

In the summer of 1999, when a group of us, including Tom Peters, Lori Bell, and Ginny McCoy, met in person at Eureka College (IL) to brainstorm a grant for an academic virtual reference collaborative. Eureka, indeed! Initially, as we thought about the grant, we planned to staff the virtual desk afternoons only. But it was a grant—why not experiment and use that opportunity to explore 24/7 virtual reference? Would students and others really use the service in the middle of the night? The grant application was successful, so we used that opportunity to find out. I was the project director for the grant and Bernie Sloan was the evaluator who analyzed such areas as time of day, days of week, questions, etc. I have only been involved with virtual reference in a collaborative environment—the service was planned, implemented, and delivered collaboratively. That project was called Ready for Reference; a year later we combined with a public library virtual reference service to form My Web Librarian; eventually MWL merged with AskAwayIllinois.

How did you come up with the idea for My Info Quest?

I personally didn’t! Many of us had been working with virtual reference for over a decade at that point, and Lori Bell, who worked at the Alliance Library System in Peoria in 2009, raised the question about SMS texting as a service platform for the 21st century. She was able to secure funding to test this; when the funding ended, the project continued as a library/library system-sustained program. SCRLC had been involved in MIQ from the get-go, so we took over some of the leadership after the Illinois library systems merged.

If you were to start it again, what would you do differently?

I would have a business plan from the get-go. Several virtual reference cooperatives have started with grant funding, and find it very challenging to move from grant funding to library-sustained. I might explore grant funding to study certain aspects of the service, but at the core, there has to be a committed group of libraries willing to pay for the service. There also has to be ample funding for a project coordinator/director and marketing—marketing to two difference audiences (librarians and library users).

What advice do you have to anyone looking to manage a cooperative?

This advice pertains to a virtual reference cooperative! Ensure you have adequate time and funding to devote to the process, including time to evaluate and analyze. If you do not have a general business plan or strategic plan, get with your group and develop one—include goals and objectives. As with all library positions in the 21st century (and all centuries, for that matter!), there are multiple components to manage within a virtual reference cooperative. Be comfortable with ambiguity and change—it is cliché but those are the constants—especially change. In addition to time spent on the actual desk answering questions, in MIQ there are scheduling, marketing, best practices, standards/policies, recruitment, training, and sustainability. Ensure that training is interactive, even at a distance. Sharon Kim, our current coordinator, has used Google Neighborhood and GoToMeeting to train librarians and students (we have student librarians in this service, as well). She developed practice questions that also lead trainees through the service’s best practices. Set up a Google Group to communicate (this is used to sent pointers, meeting notices, participants request temporary desk shift changes, other information, etc.). Try to meet virtually on a regular basis (we have monthly meetings for those who can tune in). Develop working groups, as needed—one wonderful aspect of being part of a collaborative service is that we don’t have to go it alone! MIQ has a culture where participants feel safe and comfortable in expressing and contributing their ideas.

What does virtual reference look like in the future?

Most libraries reachable to their users via virtual reference services! The number of libraries that are not reachable via virtual reference, i.e., SMS text and web-based chat, is amazing to me. In point-of-need service, which many of us try to provide, users/members/patrons must be able to walk in, phone, email, text, or chat up the reference desk. If I recall, according to one of the Pew studies, 31% of texters prefer texting to talking—and that was a study that included young adults but not teens. If we are to stay relevant to future users, we absolutely have to be reachable to users in all ways. I would like to see libraries rival the commercial chat services, e.g., ChaCha—to be the go-to service for questions that increasingly our smart phones can’t answer. And I do think that is a factor. We’re seeing less “ready reference” questions in our service and more library-related. With the increase in smart phone ownership, I think that those folks are finding their own quick answers. VR still enables us to be the human behind the machine! But…it could go the other way—with budget and time challenges, there could be fewer individual libraries offering their users this capability, and cooperatives could dissolve. Hopefully that only occurs in an anti-universe far, far away! My hope: All users are met at their point of need 24/7/365, by librarians—that our libraries are relevant, valued, and supported by our communities! I would also like to see VR become such a standard part of library service that there is no need for lists in the Wikipedia of libraries that offer virtual reference (or SMS text reference). When is the last time you saw a list of libraries that offer phone or email reference?

What is a current trend in libraries that interests you?

Just one? The effect of patron-driven-acquisitions on resource sharing and collection development; trends in texting for information; best practices for continuing education delivered via distance learning; assessment and the relationship between student outcomes and library services.

Ok, now ask us a question.

Where do you see Mosio for Libraries in five-years, including…..any plans for a back-up reference service?

About Mary-Carol Lindbloom: Mary-Carol is the Executive Director for the South Central Regional Library Council. SCRLC is a non-profit, multi-type library consortium, operating under charter by the New York State Board of Regents. It has member libraries located in the counties of Allegany, Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates. The members include academic, corporate, hospital, public, school, and non-profit libraries.

Facebook: South Central Regional Library Council
Twitter: SCRLC
LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mary-carol-lindbloom/6/a85/24a

25 Great Text Messaging Acronyms You May or May Not Need to Know for Your Text-a-Librarian Service

Do you speak text?

Mosio_TextSpeak_Translator

Your patrons speak many languages, and you can’t learn them all. But one thing you can do to improve service to your patrons is familiarize yourself with some of the more common terms and phrases in their languages of preference. If your patron is text-savvy enough to be texting his or her librarian, then one of his or her languages of preference is chat and chances are he or she is up on the latest text messaging acronyms.

A great way to enhance chat service for your patrons and maximize your efficient use of time is to become familiar with some of the most common and helpful text messaging acronyms. Speaking your users’ languages, especially in online communications, will help them feel more comfortable and give that personal touch so they don’t feel like they are talking to a robot.

There are thousands of text messaging acronyms, but we want to stick to the ones that can be used in a professional environment and that are not too obscure. These are the ones your users will likely be using, and these are the ones that you should be using as well. You will want to tailor your chat acronym use to each session, gauging each individual user’s chat acronym expertise level by the acronyms that he or she uses him- or herself.

Here is a list of 25 text messaging acronyms which you can add to your arsenal of reference tools.

AAP – Always a pleasure
BIF – Before I forget
BRB – Be right back
BTW – By the way
EOM – End of message
F2F – Face to face
GL – Good luck
HAND – Have a nice day
IANAL – I am not a lawyer
IMA – I might add
IMO – In my opinion
IOW – In other words
ISWYM – I see what you mean
JIC – Just in case
OIC – Oh, I see
OTOH – On the other hand
PD – Public domain
SOW – Speaking of which
THX – Thanks
TTBOMK – To the best of my knowledge
TYVM – Thank you very much
WB – Welcome back
WRT – With regard to
WTG – Way to go!
YW – You’re welcome

The patron texting a question is typically expecting a quick response and librarians need to be prepared to answer text-a-librarian questions promptly. Lots of chat acronyms, such as ROFL and L8R, are designed for close friends. Your users may employ such acronyms, but you will want to restrict your use to the more professional ones such as those in the list above.

And if your patron sends you a puzzling collection of letters and you have no idea what they mean, Mosio’s text speak translator will give you the help you need with its 800+ text messaging acronym definitions.

New Text a Librarian Feature – Automatic Bit.ly Generator

Text a Librarian’s Bit.ly Linke Auto-Generator: More Links With Less Characters

We have a handful of new features coming up over the next month, but wanted to quickly let you know about our Bit.ly generator, suggested by our customers as a “great to have” feature.

Bit.ly is a handy URL shortening technology that makes it easier to crunch long urls into less characters. Now with Text a Librarian, you can paste a long URL, check the Bit.ly box and it will shorten it for you.

After librarians send the message, if they mouse over the bitly link, it’ll show them what the real URL looks like, see below for an illustration.

More features and exciting updates coming soon!

Thanks,

The Text a Librarian Team

Reasons to Use Mosio for SMS Text Message Reference at Your Library

This is a re-formatted version of our presentation that can be viewed on Slideshare, providing you with some basic information as to why more librarians choose Mosio to equip their libraries to communicate with patrons on the go.

The full presentation is embedded below.

Reasons to Use Mosio’s Text a Librarian

Mobile Carrier Approved Text Messaging Reference Software
Currently used in over 800 U.S. Public, Academic and Health Science Libraries


Connect With More Patrons On-the-Go

Mosio’s reliable and carrier-certified text messaging solutions for libraries.

Patrons Text Questions. Librarians Type Answers.

Receive and respond to patron text messages on a secure website, backed by a dedicated support team.

Affordable, Efficient, Reliable & Secure.

Pricing plans to fit all libraries with dozens of features to automate, collaborate, archive & report.

Easy to Implement. Easy to Use.

No hardware to buy. Nothing to install. No mobile phone needed.

Buzz and Testimonials

“Text a Librarian is a great way to expand library services and provide mobile patrons answers to simple questions.”
— Tracey Ray, Free Library of Philadelphia

“Answering questions was easy. I just sat down at the computer and when I saw a question come in, I clicked on the big red ‘Answer’ button and started typing.”
— ALA Ambassador at ALA Annual

“Mosio’s Text a Librarian is a great solution for us!”
— Emilie Smart, East Baton Rouge Parish Libraries

“Texting a librarian is no longer a myth thanks to TextaLibrarian.com, which is easy to implement and actually keeps patron phone numbers private.”
— Mirela Roncevic, Library Journal

Advantages & Benefits of Using Mosio

  • Easy to implement, simple to use and IT-friendly.
  • Free Inbound Text Messages.
  • Free Custom Auto Responders.
  • Patron privacy is safe. Your data is secure.
  • Run reports, gather stats and analyze usage.
  • Efficient for one librarian working alone or many working together.
  • Text a Librarian is not a hack. Hacks = Problems.
  • Competitively-priced. Feature-rich. Always improving.
  • We are technology compatible, perfect for Library 2.0.

We Offer Tools to Get You Started

We have training manuals, but you probably won’t need them.
Librarians are usually responding to questions within the first 5 minutes of logging in.
Our patron marketing materials make it easy to promote your service and have a successful launch.

Plus, our new Text For Instructions feature makes it easier than ever to explain how patrons can text you.
Text for Instructions encourages patrons to interact with Text a Librarian the moment they find out about it, maximizing your success in promoting the service.

Contact Us

For more information about how Mosio can connect your library with more patrons on the go, take a tour on our website, sign up for a free webinar, view a Text a Librarian webinar video, see our pricing and plans or contact us to discuss your needs.

Thanks and we look forward to speaking with you.

www.textalibrarian.com
877-MOSIO-99 (667-4699)

View more presentations from Mosio

Word of Mouth Marketing in Libraries – Info and Articles

Then and Now…

Faberge Shampoo started it all with their famous commercial from the 1970s. Peggy Barber and Linda Wallace nail it in their new article, “The Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing” in the November issue of American Libraries Magazine. We wrote a post called “Word of Mouth: The Best Form of Social Media” as part of our Library Marketing Tips series.

I definitely recommend reading the whole article, but here are short versions of their “Why WOMM?” bullets to get you started:
1. It’s real and immediate.
2. It’s personal.
3. It’s honest.
4. It’s catching.
5. It’s customer-driven.

More Info and Articles

1. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association has a great educational section, WOMMA 101, giving some great initial information as well as their Best Practices Handbook (free in PDF).

2. A great blog post from Marketing Vox containing some stats (and charts and graphs), Real-Life WOM Beats Online by a Wide Margin.

3. About.com article Why Word-of-Mouth Marketing? by Laura Lake.

Shhhhh…don’t tell anybody.
;)

Texting the Library – Beyond Reference Services

Text the Library With Comments, Feedback and Suggestions

Enabling libraries to set up mobile text messaging reference services so patrons can ask questions has been the primary use of our technology to date. In fact, mobile questions and answers is our business, it’s what we geek out on every day at work. But there’s another use for Mosio’s Text a Librarian currently being utilized and we’d like to encourage more of it: Patron feedback and suggestions via text messaging.

Encouraging patrons to text comments, suggestions and feedback can be a great way to gather intelligence about library use and provide insight on opportunities to better serve them. Being able to collect this feedback everywhere throughout the library beyond a stationary suggestion box allows patrons to chime in at their point of experience. Plus, it will get them to start using your mobile reference service, showing them all of the ways they can communicate with the library.

As a company, Mosio prides itself on listening to the suggestions and feedback of librarians to help make our software better. The product development team always wants to know how people are using the service, what would make it better, more useful, easier to interact with. The product has come a long way in the past 8 months since we launched, but we’re not done making it better. The same is true for those libraries we see who are embracing new technologies and services to become more relevant to patron needs.

Of course, there are always the traditional methods of gathering feedback through simple conversations, suggestion boxes, emails, surveys, etc, but if your library is already offering a text message reference service, you can easily extend the service to include comments and suggestions.

“Questions, Comments, Feedback? Text Us!”

By making it easier for them to communicate with you when they have ideas, you can collect great information that’s helpful to the entire library. Capturing patron thoughts in a database, where reports can be run, shared and talked about, gives you the ability to make ongoing improvements to your library services.

To those libraries who have already put this new use into play, we applaud you! For those looking to get interested, we’ll be creating and posting some easy to use comments/feedback patron marketing templates to use very soon, so stay tuned.

Text a Librarian Video – Text Messaging Reference Software for Libraries

Progress As Promised – The Future Value of Software as a Service for Libraries

tree

“Here is the prime condition of success: Concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it.”
- Andrew Carnegie

My favorite thing about working at Mosio is that every day we get to come into work and improve ourselves, our product and our relationships with customers. Aside from the positive attitude and action from those who work here, our business model, offering on-demand mobile reference software as a service for libraries, enables us to create, test, launch, listen and then improve upon our product in an ongoing fashion. Text a Librarian is better today than it was yesterday and it will always be better tomorrow.

What Does it Mean? Ongoing Improvements and Progress as Promised.

Since we launched in beta almost a year ago, we have added literally dozens of features and improvements to the service, all of it based on feedback from our customers and those who have commented or offered ideas for improvements. All have been taken into consideration in our ongoing development of the service. We welcome constructive criticism and feedback and in fact, we live for it. Ideas and feedback from librarians enable us to make at least 2 major feature updates per month plus a handful of user interface, usability and back end improvements to the system.

Ultimately what this means is that if you read or send a comment about our product, chances are we have too and are looking into it. Truthfully, not all ideas and suggestions are feasible: for example, we have heard “why can’t the page auto-refresh when a new question comes in?” In theory this suggestion sounds great, until you are in the middle of answering a question and the page refreshes, quickly making your answer box a moving target. Other improvements, such as RefStart, have been made based on listening to the wishes of librarians and coming up with our own solution.

Why We Do It

The simplest answer is “because we can.” Compared with any other options libraries have for mobile reference solutions, we strive for ours to be the best. Being the best means always improving, always making the system more secure, scalable, more collaboration-friendly, easier to set up, easier to use and more robust with reporting. What it means for you and your library is that by signing up for our service, you’ll always have a product that gets better and better, built by people who love hearing what you think as you use it. The biggest compliment we hear is “I wish we could answer all reference questions this way.” Our standard response: “We’re working on it.” =]

One that you can always bet on with Mosio/Text a Librarian is that in pursuit of our goal to be the best, we’ll always be looking to out-perform and out-service any other mobile reference solutions available to libraries. We’ll always be doing this through listening, taking great notes and offering a little bit of personality with our customer service. What this means for libraries is that in their pursuit of being the best, once they sign on with our technology, they get the benefit of ongoing updates and feature-adds to make their services more robust and user-friendly without having to buy or license additional services/software.

You can see a standard list of Text a Librarian features on our website, or if you are a current Text a Librarian customer, click on the New Features link inside your Quick Links module when you’re logged into the system.

Library Marketing Tips, Part 4: a Tool, a Trick and a How-To

Library Marketing Tips Part 4: Tools, Tricks and How Tos

There are enough topics around the subject of library marketing for an entire blog. In fact, Jill Stover posted to her blog, Library Marketing, Thinking Outside the Book, for 3 years and it has some amazing ideas. That said, we’re on the final week of Library Marketing Tips, so we’ve decided to throw in a few Tools, Tricks and How Tos to think about, try out and share. If you’re finding this post randomly, you might be interested in parts 1-3, linked below.
Library Marketing Tips, Part 1: Avoiding the Noise (Templates Inside)

Library Marketing Tips, Part 2: The Morning News, Videos and Slideshows

Library Marketing Tips, Part 3: Word of Mouth, the Best Form of Social Media

Tool – Google Analytics

This is one of our favorites. Google Analytics allows you to go extremely deep with information about your site, but what makes us love it in its simplest form is that it lets you see where people are coming from (other webistes and search terms), what they are doing on your site while they are there (which pages get the most clicks and traffic) and at what point they left (exit pages). It’s free to sign up with a Google account and requires you to paste some code into your website. This may take a “pretty please” to your webmaster or IT Manager, but it’s well worth it and once they enter the code, you have access to the information on your own, requiring nothing else from them (unless what you find out about your site should be changed to provide a better experience for visitors).

Here are two blog posts (The Huge Collection of Google Analytics Tips and Google Analytics Maximized: Deeper Analysis, Higher ROI & You) that give a little more detail on what you can do when you’re ready, but after getting the GA code on your site, here are a few things to get you started:

1. Traffic Sources – This lets you know how visitors found you, via websites and search terms. This one is great because it can help you see whether your Facebook page and/or Twitter Tweets are worth the effort (you’ll find they will be). One thing Google Analytics has helped us find out: People search for our name over a dozen different ways to get to our site, including misspellings (“text a libranian”).

2. Content – This one is great because it shows you where people are going on your site, the busiest pages. You can see how many patrons are visiting your “Ask Us” or “Ask a Librarian” page and if it’s not up to par with some other pages, find the one most visited and make sure there is a prominent link to that particular page to see how you can direct more traffic to encourage patrons to ask questions (or more specifically, how to utilize your new text message reference services).

3. Site Overlay - As a part of the Content section, Site Overlay is where things get really interesting. It puts an “overlay” (as the name suggests) on top of your site and then gives you %s on where people are clicking to when they’re on that page.
There are many other great tools that are part of the Google Analytics package, but these are a great place to start seeing how people are finding your site and what they’re doing once they get there.

Trick – The “Marketing Possibilities are Everywhere” Exercise

This isn’t so much a “trick” as in a magic trick, but more of an exercise in getting your mind to think about all of the places where marketing can take place. If you’re already a marketing oriented person, you may already do this, but if not, it’s a great exercise. For a whole week, challenge yourself each day to write down at least 1 unique way of marketing a service that isn’t already being used. It’s ok if you find out later that it already is, it’s the exercise that’s important.

Example: Every time I fly, I wear my Mosio T-Shirt. Why? Besides the fact that I love it and that it’s very soft, there are thousands of people at the airport, including a few hundred that will be on the plane with me. Those are all brand impressions, I literally see people looking down at the logo. Plus, in some cases, someone will ask “What is Mosio?” and I get an opportunity to talk about our company and what we do. Our shirts are intentionally simple. No huge letters or slogans, no website addresses, just the logo, making it the only thing the eyes can focus on. We offer Text a Librarian T-Shirts on a site called Spreadshirt. We don’t make any money from them, people pay what we pay, but this is another great opportunity to promote your service or strike up a conversation about the service.
Mosio T Shirt
(You always get a second chance to make a brand impression)

So what ideas can you think of? What places would be great to put a marketing message? Write them down, 1 or more a day, for a week and see how your thinking has changed. After finishing the exercise and thinking about marketing for a week, begin thinking about the areas and places where you could market your own library services. See what new comes to mind and how it can be done in your library or community.


How To – Manage Social Media Presence Multiple Places

So you have a presence on: Myspace, Facbook, Twitter, FriendFeed, etc, etc, etc, and managing them all can be a hassle. First, we’re not advocates of having an account on every social network on earth. In fact, we think it’s better to have fewer with focused strategies on how you’ll use them. Even adding 2-3, plus your own website, email newsletters, printed materials and anything else can be a full time job in and of itself. Luckily, there are several tools you can use to help you manage your social media output.

HelloTxt - Originally, I was going to post about how you can use the Facebook Twitter Application to post Tweets to your Library’s Facebook page, but with the sporatic reports of the Twitter App on Facebook not working I thought it best to write about another useful site called HelloTxt, that has been gaining steady growth since I first heard about it more than a year ago. It lets you post once and updates to any of 45 social networks through their APIs. If the last thing you want to do is join another “thing” (we can understand this), then we at least want to give you the link to the Twitter Facebook App that lets you post your Twitter tweets to your Facebook Page’s Wall.

Start Pages - We recently wrote a post about how you can use start pages as virtual reference tools, it included Netvibes, Pageflakes and iGoogle, all of which can be also used as a way to manage multiple places at once. In fact, they are the absolute best way to do that. Each has varying options for widgets, gadgets, flakes, modules, etc (they differ in what they’re called based on the service, but all mean the same thing). They give you quick access to: Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Twitter, Digg, Delicious, 43 Things, blogs and a handful of email programs.

So that’s all of them, Library Marketing Tips 1-4. We hope you learned some ideas on how you can better promote text messaging reference services to your community. Mobile messaging is growing at a rapid pace in the U.S., there is a lot of excitement around the mobile channel, so getting the word out to patrons and your community gives you an opportunity to extend your outreach by expanding the walls of your library on mobile devices.

Start Pages as Library Virtual Reference Tools: Pageflakes and iGoogle

Start Pages as Library Virtual Reference Tools

We realize that start pages have been talked about in the library community for several years. Michael Stephens wrote a great piece on start pages about 18 months ago (originally written in Computers in Libraries in April of 2007) and Dr. Joyce Valenza recently wrote a piece called “netvibes enhanced!” on the School Library Journal in May of 2009. These posts are very helpful in showing how start pages like Netvibes, PageFlakes and iGoogle can all be utilized as “library info-portals” which is absolutely true. What we’re finding interesting (and Michael Stephens mentions it in his piece) is how these start pages can be used as a time-saving, virtual reference efficiency tool.

The Unquiet Librarian wrote a quick blog post called “netvibes recognizes itself as a virtual library/reference pathfinder” and there was a lot of excitement around the office when we saw her post. We actively read and discuss posts and “how to” pieces by Aaron Tay on his blog “Musings About Librarianship.” We’re fans, love how he shows as much (if not more) than he tells how to get crafty with technologies and try to follow the same educational elements in our blog as he does in his.

A Quick Note About RefStart

It’s no secret that we’re about to launch a beta version of RefStart, a project we’ve been working on since April, which is a standard feature within Text a Librarian giving librarians one-click access to reference tools, search, web 2.0 sites and popular social networks. We announced and actively showcased it at ALA Annual in Chicago last month and got an amazing response, there are two main reasons we think this is the case:
1. Budget cuts and layoffs are making everyone need to be more efficient.
2. There are new web 2.0 and social media services popping up all the time.

Why Start Pages?

The reason we love start pages and think they’re great reference tools is because they are versatile, customizable, can be accessed from anywhere and if a new social media or web 2.0 service pops up and your library is part of it, chances are you can add a widget, gadget or module to have quick access to it. Also, they can be made private (the 3 services we’re listing below default to private), giving you the ability to have your personal information there or share it with colleagues behind a user id/password. Need more info on how start pages can be used to be more productive? Check out the SlideShare presentation iGoogle for Productivity and Outreach by PF Anderson, April 2009 at the bottom of this post. It has some great screen shot examples and info on how iGoogle can be used to be more productive.

3 Start Pages You Can Use

Rather than do a point by point break down of each (here’s a break down of them from PC Magazine if you’re interested in that), I’ve simply pasted a screen shot with a quick description of each. Ultimately, it comes down to personal choice on what you want. In the efforts of guidance, I will say that a large number of people at Mosio/Text a Librarian use iGoogle, but we created reference start page templates in Netvibes and Pageflakes (some might say they are reference tool overkill, but it was sort of the point) as part of RefStart. The templates are public, so anyone can use or copy them. The screen shots for them are below as well as a link to them.

RefStart Template Use #1
If you really like our templates and want to use the reference resources inside as is, by all means please feel free to do so. They are for public use. You can bookmark your favorite template and use it without registering on Nitevibes or Pageflakes or having to create your own page.  The limitation of this use is that you cannot move/add widgets or personalize it in any way (i.e. you can’t add/manage your social networks via one of our templates).

RefStart Template Use #2
If you like a lot of our widgets and resources, but you want to be able to add new widgets and personalize everything, we recommend signing up for the service of your choice. Once you have your own start page, you can go back to our templates and simply copy the modules/widgets from the template on to your page. This is really the best use as you are able to manage your own page.
Note: iGoogle does not allow public access of personal start pages (except for a few celebrities as of late).

1. iGoogle

iGoogle has thousands of “gadgets” that can be easily added and shared. The iGoogle page shown below features Delicious, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Gmail, Bookmarks and YouTube Gadgets. Click on the iGoogle title above to browse features and/or sign up.

iGoogle Library Reference Tools Start Page

 

2. Pageflakes

Pageflakes is very easy to work with. The Pageflakes RefStart Template below features Facebook, Twitter, a handful of virtual reference search bookmarks/links, Google, Rollyo Search and a CNN RSS feed. The best thing about these start pages is the ability to copy pages or modules that you like. You can copy individual modules from our template or the whole page after you sign up to create your own Pageflakes page. Clicking on the image below will take you to the RefStart Pageflakes Template.

Pageflakes Library Reference Tools Start Page

3. Netvibes

Update (11/12/09): Netvibes started “frame busting” so we can longer recommend them as a useful addition to RefStart. If you’re a die-hard Netvibes fan, we don’t blame you, it’s a cool service, but we recommend using either iGoogle or Pageflakes with RefStart for a better experience.
The Netvibes RefStart template below features Facebook, Twitter, a handful of virtual reference bookmarks/links, Myspace, Delicious, Flickr, Twitter Search, Google Calendar, YouTube search and an RSS feed from ALA TechSource. Like Pageflakes, you can copy any module/widget you like, so if you create your own Netvibes page, you can then come back to our RefStart Template and copy whatever parts you like and add them to yours, all in a few clicks. Clicking on the image below will take you to the RefStart Netvibes Template.

*UPDATE*
We have been experiencing some difficulties with the bookmarking widgets in Netvibes when using IE explorer. All seems to work fine with other browsers (Firefox, Chrome, etc.). We’ll continue to work on a solution. In the meantime, try a different browser if you’d like to view &/or copy the links to the reference sites/logins on Netvibes. Thanks.

Netvibes Library Reference Tools Start Page

So that’s about it, 3 start pages that can be created, copied, edited and are accessible anywhere. Start pages will continue to evolve as more developers create widgets and gadgets for them and don’t see them going away any time soon. The templates are only a part of the RefStart application soon to be released in Text a Librarian. If you are interested in signing up for a live demo of Text a Librarian to see how start pages integrate with RefStart, you may do that here.

 

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