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2007's 23 Thing Experience
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2007’s 23 Things Experience:
View from an Infopeep and CSL Staff

Over the summer of 2007 several staff at the California State Library (CSL), like many of their library colleagues throughout California, took Infopeople’s 23 Web 2.0 Things Challenge. CSL folks “played” on 23 websites and joined the infinite online communities behind blogs, wikis, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

California State Library’s 23 Thing enthusiasts on the steps of the Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building in Sacramento
(L to R: Pamela Martin, Jackie Siegel, Lillian Chow, Peggy Fish)

Infopeople’s Eileen O’Shea shares how Infopeople’s 23 Things evolved, and how it’s turning out, with CSL Connection:

Infopeople’s 23 Web 2.0 Things Project dates back to April 2007 when we were launching Moving Libraries Forward to Web 2.0, a new training series that came about as a direct result of the State Librarian’s interest in Web 2.0 and its tremendous transformational potential that is perhaps second only to the Internet itself. As we researched all things 2.0 to prepare for Moving Libraries Forward, we couldn't help but hear and read about the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's (PLCMC) 23 Learning 2.0 Things. It struck us that this would be a great thing to do here in California on a statewide basis. Various California libraries were also aware of the PLCMC project and asked Infopeople if we could create a California version. The PLCMC graciously encouraged other libraries to copy and modify their original concept and thus was born Infopeople’s Our 23 Web 2.0 Things Challenge.

Using the PLCMC 23 Things as a jumping off point, we developed a modified set of 23 Web 2.0 Things for libraries to explore and created a blog to push out the Things and host the blogroll of participants. The Things ranged from creating a blog to editing a wiki, to learning about Twitter, to exploring Library Thing. The official challenge ran from May 9, 2007 to October 19, 2007 with over 200 people participating, and over three quarters completing all 23 things – a pretty amazing statistic! What also jumped out at us was the spread: public libraries, special libraries, school libraries, and academic libraries all took part. Reference librarians, catalogers, library school students –curiosity about Web 2.0 reached into all areas of the library world.

Though officially over, Infopeople’s challenge has continued: new libraries are participating and we are adding new Web 2.0 things to the blog: we’re up to 27 things and still counting! We encourage people interested in Web 2.0 to check out the blog and take on the challenge for themselves! Again, the URL for Infopeople’s 23 Things blog is

A view from the CSL

By following Infopeople’s easy steps, CSL staff judged first-hand which of the 23 online tools were confusing or faddish, and which were solid vehicles capable of delivering superior library service to diverse customers. Some, they discovered, were a little of both. CSL Connection talked to four CSL staff members who finished all 23 Things.

When Jackie Siegel, former CSL librarian and current information systems analyst in the CSL’s Information Technology Bureau, logged on to Thing 9, Twitter, she considered how Twitter might be useful for a library. Looking at the public timeline Siegel saw “a visual cacophony of coffee breaks, music choices, and friend meet-ups interspersed with the occasional Japanese tweet.” It looked, she says, “absolutely worthless. I added a few short tweets myself and all I was doing was talking to myself.”

Luckily, a librarian in Alaska introduced Siegel to library uses for Twitter through his blog. As the Alaska librarian wrote about his Twitter experiences, he invited other librarians to also try Twitter. Siegel says after she sent the Alaska librarian a message, he “hooked me up with other twittering librarians throughout the United States."

Siegel learned that Twitter is an informal, friendly way to connect with others both professionally and socially. She says that some libraries are using Twitter to announce new books, others to announce events, and that one library is posting interesting reference questions.

Today, Siegel regularly networks with librarians coast to coast, from Alaska to Florida. By following librarians’ postings, Siegel not only has her “finger on the pulse of librarianship” throughout the country, she is able to use Twittering librarians’ expertise in computer related issues at the California State Library. “And,” she says, “We also share recipes!”

Though Pamela Martin, a research analyst in the California State Library’s California Research Bureau, knew quite a bit about Web 2.0 tools before joining Infopeople’s 23 Things Challenge, she wanted to learn more. The research analyst was happy to find most of the 23 applications practical in all sorts of settings, not just libraries.

Martin’s best Thing experience was learning the “ins and outs” of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. By working though the RSS tutorial, Martin discovered that “online newspapers, public agencies, and (of course) blogs offer RSS feeds as an alternative to e-mail notifications. All I had to do was sign up for Bloglines, a free service which captures the published works and lets me read them at my convenience.”

While researching a paper on a Central Valley water issue, Martin kept track of a prolific water policy blog called Aquafornia. “This blog,” she says, “as well as feeds from local newspapers, offered a direct look at what local citizens were doing and saying on my subject. Since then, I have also found quite a few good blogs written by education policy analysts and governance experts, which I have added to my Bloglines account.”

Peggy Fish, a librarian at the California State Library (CSL), thinks her CSL customers could really use Thing 11, Library Thing, a site on which people share personal book reviews and book lists, join on-line book clubs and catalog personal libraries. “The ‘suggestion’ aspect of Library Thing,” Fish says, “is a great tool. It's similar to the Amazon way of identifying books for the reader based on what he or she is reading now.” 

Fish reports that a professor at San Francisco State University (SFSU) has applied a Library Thing-like widget to the SFSU Library catalog. Fish suggests checking-out the SFSU Library catalog on the website, pulling up a keyword [she used “Lincoln”], finding a book to review, and following the link to More Information.  “This type of tool,” Fish says, “would be so great to provide CSL customers. Just connecting with Library Thing would be an easy way to start the process of providing a little extra online service.”  

Before embarking on the 23 Things, Lillian Chow, Senior Librarian in the California State Library Technical Services unit and former Librarian in the Witkin State Law Library, had used several bookmarking websites but not Chow was excited to give this online bookmarking website accessible from any computer, a try.

Chow discovered was useful not only for her personal bookmarks but for links she uses at work. “In the Witkin State Law Library, we had put our selection of legal links into a web page which we had on our library computers and also emailed out to interested customers because it is not available online,” Chow says. became the Witkin State Law Library’s “next step forward,” according to Chow. “I added all the links from the web page to an account at Using tags allowed me to assign keywords so that users could get all the links on a subject (such as "decisions") previously spread out on the web page. Features like tags and viewing links that others are adding, as well as putting our collection of links online, make a worthwhile tool for enhancing our customer service.”





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