Feb 05 2009
Well, I am at home as the school is closed because of the snow. So, I thought that it was about time that I wrote a post about the developments I am making with Web2.0. After, that is why I set up the blog in the first place! Sorry that this is a long post – but today I have the time to write it!
I am having a lot of fun with the school library website. It has been started as a way of tracking the development of the Library as it is refurbished and also offering a service to the school when the current library stock is not of a standard to really meet the needs of the staff and students. It has been gratifying that so many school librarians have seen the site and have used it as an exemplar of what can be done. I also think that I can use the site to create a bit of a “wow factor” by utilising lots of Web2.0 gadgets and widgets to catch the eye.
These are being used in an educational way (honest) but also as a bit of fun. I chose a theme for the site that has a sidebar at each side of the main page. That way there is enough room to add in a range of widgets. I have moved them around a bit and tried a range of services.
So what are the main Web2.0 services that I am using? The left sidebar is mainly about the Library Online website itself:
- The top two widgets are just text that I use to explain the site and put on the latest news about the site.
- Then comes a widget with my Twitter feeds. I have to make sure that I use direct messages for personal conversations as the Twitter feeds need to look professional for the site. They are a great way of adding instant news updates to the site. I am Dixie_library on Twitter, by the way!
- The next six widgets are those generated for a WordPress blog that enable visitors to see the page structure, recent posts, recent comments, categories and tags. These help a visitor to navigate the site.
- Under this is more fun stuff. I have found that our students are fascinated to see where the visitors to our site are coming from – this is especially important as we are have International School Award. So I have put in widgets from Feedjit and Clustrmaps to show all of this.
- Below this are a range of widgets. The Educator’s Calendar from Widgetbox is used as I wanted to show events from around the world. I am not entirely satisfied that this is the best source as yet. Then a weather widget (also from Widgetbox) for our nearest town – Hinckley – shows how cold it is today! A badge for the TeacherLibrarian network and administrative tasks finishes this sidebar.
The right sidebar is more about the Library itself and also the public library etc.:
- First of all a text widget which will show current activities such as the recent National Year of Reading and currently the Times Books for Schools.
- Secondly, a widget that shows the photographs of our Library that I have uploaded to Flickr. I have done this so that I can show the development of the Library from this baseline year going forward into the future.
- Below this is another text widget with quick facts about the Library.
- Then I have put in a box with a link to a Meebo account. This may be a bit risky, but I have been reading about libraries who are using Instant Messaging with their customers and I am trying it out. I may find that another service will give me more control as I am a little concerned about misuse. What do you think?
- In the absence of an online catalogue, I am using LibraryThing to show the books that we have at present – the only issue I have is updating this as I think that I need to delete all records on it and re-import them regularly as we are buying a lot of new stock and withdrawing a huge amount at present. Anyway, this is shown in the sidebar.
- There are then some other reading-based widgets with favourite authors, a link to reading development websites tagged on Diigo, and a book review finder – which is a Google custom search engine.
- I have also highlighted our local public libraries in Leicestershire and Warwickshire (where most of our students and staff live) with links to their online catalogues and to the online subsciption services that they offer. Our local branch is also advertised here to encourage use by our school.
- Following this are three more widgets – firstly showing our Delicious tags: I have built these up over a long time and am in the process of adding new ones to support our staff and students. I use Delicious now for our curriculum and Diigo for professional links. Next is a link to SlideShare, where I upload any presentations that I think would be of interest. Last of all a link to Wordle, which I find fascinating – I keep trying to get teachers to use this – but no luck at the moment!
So, this has been a very long post, but I wanted to explain what I am trying to achieve at the front end of the site. Ideas for development are very welcome – please let me know if you have found better alternatives!