Monday, January 28, 2008

Weeks 3 & 4: RSS, Newsreaders, and Wikis


In the first two weeks of Blue 2.0, you created a blog. Want to make it easier to keep up with the blogs of your colleagues and friends? This week you will learn how to use a feed reader to subscribe to RSS feeds from websites and other blogs.

You will also learn about different uses of wikis and will create one.


Activity 1: Explore a feed reader

Even if you don’t become a regular blogger, you can still enjoy the benefits of RSS! A feed reader will allow you to quickly and easily keep up with numerous websites—whether the Blogger blogs of your fellow staffers participating in this program or RSS feeds from various websites (see the list of examples below to get an idea). Still not convinced? You can easily track packages, set up custom searches, and even have email sent to an RSS feed if you wish.

What is RSS exactly? It stands for Really Simple Syndication, but we're not going to get into the technical jargon here. There's plenty of reading out there if you want to know more. Just know that RSS feeds allow you to view the content of many different websites on a single website--a feed reader. The feed reader we'll be using is Bloglines.

In this activity you’ll set up a Bloglines account ( and subscribe to the feeds of several websites.

This video provides step-by-step instructions for creating a Bloglines account:

Using Bloglines Tutorial (how to Keep up with dozens of blogs everyday) – This online tutorial walks you through how to setup a Bloglines account and add newsfeeds. Follow Steps 1 to 3 to set up your Bloglines account. Steps 4 – 9 are optional and cover how to subscribe to different types of feeds
It takes just minutes to get an account. Once you have set up the account, you can subscribe to feeds highlighted by Bloglines (under the Directory tab) or you can search for feeds directly (under the Search tab). Most likely you will want to add the URLs of feeds you discovered elsewhere (under the Feeds tab, click on Add, then paste in the URL and click Subscribe). You'll know a page has a feed if you see the little RSS icon on the page or up on your browser toolbar:

See the Resources at the end for more videos, reading, as well as some blogs and other feeds you might want to subscribe to with your new Bloglines account.

At a minimum, be sure to add the feed for the Blue 2.0 blog to your new Bloglines account:

1. Scroll down to the bottom of the Blue 2.0 blog.

2. Right click on "Subscribe to Posts--Atom" (RSS and Atom are different standards for feeds, but that's not really important here. If you're really interested, see the readings below) and choose "Copy Link Location."

3. Go back to Bloglines. Under the Feeds tab, click on Add.

4. Paste the link location into the "blog Feed or URL" field and click on subscribe.

So to recap, for this activity you will:

  1. Create a Bloglines account
  2. Add feeds to your Bloglines account, including the Blue 2.0 feed
  3. Write a brief post about the experience to your blog. What are some of your favorite RSS feeds?
  4. Post in the comments of this blog entry the URL of your blog post about Bloglines and RSS.

Estimated time to completion: 60 minutes+

Activity 2: Create a wiki

Why wikis? Wikis are great because they are web pages that can be edited quickly and easily by multiple people. Edits can be tracked so that you can easily go back to a previous version of the wiki if needed. To edit a wiki, you don’t need a lot of coding or technical know-how. Just type your text and go!

We all may be familiar with wikis simply because of Wikipedia. There are a number of uses for wikis. I’ve used them to organize places of interest for a trip, disc golf scores, and recipes. In addition to personal uses, wikis are a great tool for libraries. See the examples section below for a short sampling of wiki uses in libraries.

For this Blue 2.0 training program, we will be using a free wiki service, Why pbwiki? Because it's as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich!

In this activity, you’ll create a wiki following the instructions on the site. On your page, feel free to write a few sentences about yourself or your experience with the program. Experiment with the various types of text formatting. See the resources section for an overview of using pbwiki.

So to recap, for this activity you will:

  1. Look at some example wikis (Wikipedia, plus some other wikis mentioned in the resources at the end of this post)
  2. Create a wiki at
  3. On your blog, give your opinion of the wikis looked at in this activity. Do you see possible uses for wikis? Include a link to your wiki in your blog post.
  4. Post in the comments of this blog entry with the URL of your blog post about wikis.

Estimated time to completion: 60 minutes+


For more information, take a look at these resources:

CNET Video: RSS – Feel the Need for Feeds (3:32) – a good over view of what RSS is and the benefits to users
Feed Me: A gentle introduction to Internet feeds - a good tutorial from Palinet, a library cooperative
Adding RSS Feeds to Bloglines - A short YouTube video showing how to add feeds
Hot! Fresh! Delivered to You! - how to use RSS to keep up with multiple information sources, including useful section about using RSS with library electronic journals


PB Wiki Tour - find out how this collaborative tool can be used
PBWiki Video Gallery - short videos of PBwiki features
Wiki, wiki, wiki – general overview from the Core Competency blog of the Public Library of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County
Wikis: A Beginner’s Look – an excellent short slide presentation that offers a short introduction and examples
Using Wikis to Create Online Communities – a good overview of what a wiki is and how wikis can be used in libraries

Examples of RSS Feeds

RSS feeds are everywhere! Here are a few examples of sites with RSS feeds, including some blogs of libraries and librarians. Consider adding some of these to Bloglines, or find your own. The blogosphere is a big, exciting place!

Sample of Library Blogs

Georgia Learning Commons Blog

Ohio University Libraries Business Blog

Kansas State University Library Blogs

Virginia Commonwealth University Library Suggestion Blog

UThink Blogs at the University of Minnesota

Shaver Engineering Library Blog

Western Kentucky University Library Blog

Morehead Library Blog

Sample of Librarian Blogs

ALA TechSource Blog

Tame the Web

Information Wants to be Free

The Ubiquitous Librarian

The Kept-Up Academic Librarian

Some Sites with RSS Feeds

University of Kentucky Libraries News

New York Times


Lexington Herald Leader

PC Magazine

Word A Day

Unshelved (library comic)

Cute Overload (puppies, kittens, more!)

Examples of Using Wikis in Libraries

Wikis are used in myriad ways. Some libraries use them for knowledge bases or places to organize training or committee information. Librarians working on national committees or meetings may use them to organize information among participants around the world. Here are just a few examples:

LibSuccess – a library best practices wiki. Lots of good stuff here!

BizWiki – subject guide for business created by a librarian at Ohio University

Library Instruction Wiki – compilation of resources related to library instruction

ALA 2006 New Orleans wiki – an example of a wiki created to support a specific event

The Albany County Public Library Staff wiki – an example of a wiki created for library staff to document procedures

SJCPL Subject Guides – an example of a public library using a wiki for a web subject guide

Librarian Sarah’s Wiki – Sarah uses a wiki to organize her presentations and links of interest

Need Help?
Blue 2.0 is about helping each other! IM a co-participant or post a question to the “Need Help?” blog post if you need (you guessed it) help. Stacey Greenwell is the primary contact for this topic, but please feel free to contact any workgroup member if you’re really stuck.

To stay on track and receive credit for participation, you'll need to complete your RSS and wiki activities by Sunday, February 10. Then we move on to tagging and online applications!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Prizes and Parties!

Wow, Blue 2.0 is off to a great start! To keep the momentum going, we're going to have 2 prize drawings during the program, and a final grand prize drawing at the end. You must be on-schedule with the program to be in the prize drawings. (Fine print: Only participants from the UK Libraries are eligible for prizes.)

We'll hold the first two prize drawings in conjunction with a Reception / Show & Tell / Q&A session where you'll have an opportunity to see what others have been working on, ask questions, and generally bond with the Blue 2.0 crowd. Dates and times are below. Please put these events on your calendar. (For the prizes: You don't have to be present to win, but it's more fun that way!)

Reception #1: Wed, Feb 13, 3:00-4:30. WTYL Gallery. Prize: $50 restaurant gift certificate

Reception #2: Tues, Mar 18, 10:00-11:30. WTYL Gallery. Prize: iPod Shuffle

Final Grand Prize drawing and program recognition: Will be held during Staff Appreciation, which will probably be during the week of Apr 7. WTYL Auditorium. Prize: 80 GB iPod Classic

Monday, January 14, 2008

Weeks 1 & 2: Blogging and Instant Messaging

We’ll begin exploring online social networking with two basic technologies: blogging and instant messaging (also called “IMing” or “chat”). It’s very important that you spend some time becoming familiar with instant messaging and blogging, because you’ll be using them throughout Blue 2.0 to communicate with other participants AND to record your experiences! Let’s get started…

The term “blog” is an abbreviation of “web log,” and refers to a website in which entries are listed in reverse chronological order. A blog can be about a particular subject or a person’s daily diary, and can contain not only text but pictures, video, audio, and links to other websites and blogs. “Blogging” just means contributing to a blog, either yours or someone else’s. If you’re interested, see Wikipedia’s more in-depth article with a definition and the history of blogging. If you’re REALLY interested, there’s even a blog about blogging.

The document you are reading now is part of the Blue 2.0 blog. Since it’s a website, it has an address that can be linked by other websites: If you haven’t already, click on other links in this blog for a description of the Blue 2.0 program, a list of participants, and more. Be sure you’ve read the entry on online safety!

Now for your first activity…

Activity 1: Set up Your Own Blog
Now that you’ve done some exploring around this blog/website and understand how the program will work, it’s time to set up your very own personal blog in which you can record your thoughts and discoveries. Please note that it’s absolutely necessary for you to complete this exercise, because it will be the basis for all the activities you complete in Blue 2.0.

To set up your blog, we recommend that you use Blogger, a popular free online blog hosting service that is extremely easy to use (note that if you’re more comfortable using another blog hosting site, please feel free to use it instead of Blogger). Blogger’s address is

Creating a blog using Blogger takes just three steps:

  1. Create an account
  2. Name your blog
  3. Select your template

The Blogger site will take you through this process step by step.

Be sure to write down your login and password! To access your blog at any time, go to Blogger at and login. Your blog’s address is whatever you named it in Step 2 of the setup process plus, i.e.,

If you’d like to explore blogging a bit more or need help, check out these sites:

Blogger’s Quick Tutorial
Blogging Tips for Beginners

Estimated Completion Time: 1 hour+

Activity 2: Post to the Blue 2.0 Blog

  1. Visit the Blue 2.0 blog at
  2. Each message in the blog is called a “post.” Find the post titled “Participants” (HINT: it's on the right-hand side of the page under "About Blue 2.0").
  3. At the bottom of the post, you will see the name of the person who wrote it, the time it was posted, and the comments other people have made.
  4. Click on the “Post a Comment” link at the bottom of the post.
  5. Type a message in the “Leave a Comment” box. Be sure to include the address of your own blog.
  6. In the “Choose an Identity” section, you may sign in with your Google/Blogger account, a nickname, or as anonymous. (NOTE: if you’re posting with a nickname or as an anonymous user, please e-mail Jen Bartlett at with your blog's name so that you get credit for creating your blog).
  7. Preview your message if you like, or just click on “Publish Your Comment.”
  8. You have now published a comment to the blog!

Estimated Completion Time: 30 minutes+

Activity 3: Blog It!
Record your experiences with blogging by creating a post on your personal blog. For example, was creating your blog easy, or hard? Did you have problems coming up with a subject or name for your blog? What types of things would you like to post to your blog over the next few weeks? Do you see any ways you could use a blog in your day-to-day work?

Now that you’ve successfully created and used a blog, let’s move on to our next Web 2.0 topic, instant messaging.

Instant Messaging (also called IM or Chat) is an easy, fun way to get started in online social networking with friends, family, and colleagues.

According to's Webopedia, chat is “real-time communication between two users via computer. Once a chat has been initiated, either user can enter text by typing on the keyboard and the entered text will appear on the other user's monitor.” In other words, once you connect with a friend through a chat service, whatever you type reaches that person instantly, and vice versa.

There are dozens of IM services, for example:

There are also dozens of IM clients, which allow you to combine your IM services into one account. For example:

For more detailed information about instant messenging services and clients, browse through Kolabora’s comprehensive Instant Messaging Tools and Technology - A Mini Guide, a Library Journal article titled “IM Me” from 2005, Wikipedia - Instant Messaging and the HowStuffWorks guide to How Instant Messaging Works. Also check out, a site devoted to all things IM.

A lot of people use IM! According to Wikipedia,

  • AIM has 53 million active users (September 2006)
  • Windows Live Messenger: 27.2 million (September 2006)
  • Yahoo! Messenger: 22 million (September 2006)
  • ICQ: 20 million active world wide (source), 400 million total
  • Skype: 100 million total (April 2006)

So, chances are pretty good that someone you know is using chat right now. Let’s find them!

Activity 1: Start Chatting
For this first activity, we will be using AIM Express, a service that allows you to chat without installing software on your PC (as with our blogging activity, if you feel more comfortable with another chat platform, use that).

  1. Go to
  2. At the top right-hand side of the screen, click on “Get a screen name” or “Sign in” (if you already have a screen name).
  3. Follow the step-by-step instructions for setting up your account. After you have finished selecting your screen name, choosing a password, and entering other information, you will receive an e-mail to confirm your new account. After you click on the link in the e-mail to confirm your account, you’re ready to go!
  4. Go back to the site. Click on “Sign in” and type your screen name and password. Your screen name will appear at the top of the screen. You’re logged in! Feel free to explore all the fun features on the AIM page.
  5. Now, click on the AIM Express link on the right-hand side of the page underneath your username. A new window will open. Click “Launch AIM Express.” A small chat window will open.
  6. If you know a person’s AIM screen name, go to “Edit” and “Add Buddy.” If you don’t know anyone with an AIM screen name, add someone from the Blue 2.0 work group whose screen name is listed in the "Participants" post. If they’re online, send them a message.
  7. Comment to the "Participants" post with your new screen name (see Blog Activity #2 for instructions); also see which coworkers and friends have posted their screen names and add them to your list. (NOTE: if you’d rather not post your screen name online for all to see, please e-mail Jen Bartlett at with your screen name so that you get credit for this activity).

Estimated Completion Time: 1 hour+

Activity 2: Blog It!
As you did with blogging, record your experiences with instant messaging on your own personal blog. Was setting up a chat account easy or difficult? How many friends and coworkers did you find online? Do you see any ways you could use online chat in your day-to-day work? (some of us already do!)

Estimated Completion Time: 1 hour

Optional Activity: Organized Chatting

  1. Set up a second chat account using a different chat platform. For example, if you set up an AIM account, set up one in Yahoo! Messenger or Google Talk.
  2. Create an account on Meebo, a web-based service that allows you to run multiple chat sessions at once. Enter username and password information from your two chat accounts. (Note: as of now, Meebo supports only the following chat services: MSN, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk, and Jabber).

Estimated Completion Time: 1 hour+

Need Help?
Blue 2.0 is about helping each other! IM a co-participant or post a question to the “Need Help?” blog post if you need (you guessed it) help. Jen Bartlett is the primary contact for this topic, but please feel free to contact any workgroup member if you’re really stuck.

To stay on track and receive credit for participation, you'll need to complete your blogging and chat activities by Sunday, January 27. Then we move on to RSS, newsreaders and wikis!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Online Safety

Welcome to Blue 2.0!

Over the next few weeks, we'll all be learning from each other about exciting technologies that we can use in our professional and personal lives. If the Queen of England can post videos on YouTube (, then so can you! But before we get started, let's first cover a few pointers on online safety...

  1. Never give your password to anyone, or post your password on a website or blog.
  2. Know who you are dealing with online.
  3. Minimize the personal information you give out online.
  4. Use strong passwords that include letters, numbers and symbols.
  5. Don't click on links within e-mails that ask for personal information, including account numbers and PINs. This helps prevents "phishing," an effort by identity thieves to trick users into giving personal information. Reputable companies and organizations will never ask for sensitive information via e-mail.
  6. Activate pop-up blocking. Besides being annoying, pop-ups are often forms of "spyware" that can collect personal information or change your computer's configuration.

To learn more, visit these sites...

OnGuard Online
Tips from the Federal Trade Commission on a wide variety of online safety topics including online auctions and shopping, social networking, identity theft, and more.

National Cyber Security Alliance
Stay Safe Online provides online safety tools and resources from the NCSA, which has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Trade Commission, and other private-sector organizations.
A nonprofit, volunteer-run organization offering information on cyberstalking, identity theft, instant messaging, online scams, chat rooms, music downloading, etc.

Kids' Rules for Online Safety from

As you work through each activity, please keep in mind that this is a self-directed program. This means that while we won't be having any traditional instruction sessions, you are welcome (and encouraged) to ask for help from co-workers, your student workers, or any of the Blue 2.0 work group (see Participants).

Let's get started!


Monday, January 7, 2008

Need Help?

Blue 2.0 is a collaborative effort. Although there are "experts" leading each section, you can and should be able to help each other. So, if you have a question about a particular module, leave a comment on that module's blog post. If you have a general question about any aspect of the program, leave a comment on this blog post. In either case, one of the "experts" or another of your co-participants may have the answer!

We are also compiling an FAQ, which we will maintain on this post. Check below for answers to common questions!


  • PROGRAM BASICS. The Blue 2.0 Planning Team will make a new blog post at the beginning of every 2-week module in the program. That initial post will include information about the technologies we will be exploring, links to useful information, and assignments. At the end of the 2-week period, we record everyone who has completed the assignments on a spreadsheet. The only purpose of tracking progress is for the prize drawings. You can feel free to work on the program at your own pace, but only participants who are on schedule will be added to the drawing pool.
  • PRIZES. We will have two prize drawings during the program, and one grand prize drawing at the end. To be eligible for a drawing, participants must be on schedule at the time of the drawing. Only UK Libraries personnel are eligible for prizes.
  • EQUIPMENT. If you have your own equipment, please use it! But if you don’t have easy access to microphones and digital cameras, you can check them out at the WTYL Circulation Desk. Headphones will also be available at Circulation, but these will be yours to keep (so please only request a program headphone set if you really don’t have your own!). We have three microphones, one digital still camera and one digital video camera that will be loaned out. Be sure to mention the Blue 2.0 program when you check out equipment, and bring your ID so that the equipment can be checked out in Voyager. We have had ninety people sign up for Blue 2.0, so sharing equipment could get complicated! If you can share a friend’s camera you may want to do that. We will try to make the process as smooth as possible, but you may want to plan ahead for any video, image or microphone needs. If you can arrange to snap some shots before Weeks 9 & 10 “Photos, video and podcasting” you’ll probably have better luck!