Facebook and GW Librarians

My custom Google News RSS feed picked up this story from the George Washington University student newspaper:

Gelman finds a new book. Librarians make resource out of Facebook

The article talks about an effort by GW librarians to promote their profiles on Facebook and make themselves upon to interacting with students in that space.

There is an anecdote about a student needing last second virtual reference assistance. She did not have the particular IM software (AOL) the library uses installed on her computer. She also mentions a lack of enthusiasm for email as a form of communication, saying she does not check it that often (those wacky millennials aren’t ‘down’ with email). So she got in touch with one of the GW librarians on Facebook and got the help she needed.

You can see on the article an image of the poster they use to promote the service. I tend to fall on the side of the fence that finds library staff trying to “friend” students a little creepy. But, the connection to the librarians grows out of the fact that students in a course at the school are assigned a personal librarian so there is a personal connection to start with.

There is not a lot of evidence of promotion of the service on the libraries web site with the Ask Us part of the site providing information on the conventional ways to contact them. However, this librarian provides a link to his Facebook profile on his blog.

It looks like they are taking time to evaluate how to evolve their services using tools like Facebook. They are asking for student feedback via an online survey.


DIY Facebook Applications

Ever since Facebook opened up their platform to outside applications I have noticed that a number of services have developed tools for us non-programmers to create Facebook applications.

The one I read the most about was Dapper. ReadWriteWeb has a good post and short video about the service.

So I thought I’d give Dapper a try (also, I didn’t have time to commute to Stanford). I decided to create an application using a basic RSS feed from Google News. I tried to think about what ongoing news story I would want updated stories about in my Facebook profile. Of course I thought about the upcoming Rambo movie. So using the Google News feed I followed the simple steps laid out in Dapper’s AppMaker. A few minutes later I had created and published my first Facebook Application. At this point two strangers have added this application so I consider that a success. However you can’t officially add your creations to Facebook’s application directory until you have at least 5 users.


After I got this basic one out of the way I thought about how to create a library-themed one. Since I can’t create a technical wonder like the University of Alberta’s search application, I thought about a tool I would have appreciated during my periods of unemployment, a one-stop RSS feed that brought together the library technician job postings from various job boards.

The problem in creating such a tool is that few job boards provide an RSS feed. Again Dapper came to the rescue. All you have to do is enter in a URL and it can distill which content you want to track and create an RSS feed for.

Then I took the 6 different RSS feeds I had for library technician job postings and entered them into a new Yahoo Pipe. While creating a basic Pipe from multiple feeds is simple, the problem was that without filtering the results in some way, I was getting a final feed that included jobs for librarians, unrelated technical jobs and other off-topic postings.

The solution to this was to use the Filter tools provided. After much trial and error I ended up with the following Pipe:


Considering the fact that I was pulling out content from very different types of web pages I am quite happy with the final result. In order to track and continually refine this tool I have created a new page on my blog which will detail my progress and provide links to the Canadian Library Technician Jobs Facebook application and a separate RSS feed.