Rebecca Hedreen is doing lots of very cool things in her users' worlds, not just within the four walls of her building. For starters, her Frequently Answered Questions blog is intended specifically to help distance education students at Southern Connecticut State University (which, of course, gives her an automatic feed for syndication). On that blog, a post from last month notes some of the ways you can ask a question, one of which - Chatango - I was unfamiliar with.
I love the idea of offering Skype, Flash-based chat, and IM options to cover the broad spectrum of online – especially distant – users. Hopefully Rebecca will provide more details, and maybe even a review, of Chatango for use within libraries. She’s embedded other cool things on the blog, too, like a link to Subscribe by email with rssfwd for those users that don’t have aggregators. I love this page, too!
My exploration of Rebecca’s work all started, though, with a link to her Library’s page describing Search Plugins and Scripts for the Firefox Browser, where you’ll find what are quickly becoming standard FF search plugins for the catalog and their journal locator. However, she’s also playing around with xISBN GreaseMonkey scripts, and she’s included GM extensions for WorldCat and and her catalog from Amazon! I definitely need some time to further explore this whole concept, but here’s how Rebecca describes it on her Library’s plugin page:
Last week, knowledge god Gary Price took some time to light my bulb regarding the NeedleSearch toolbar, a service that makes it stupidly easy to create your own toolbar for your library’s catalog, no programming required! He first wrote this up all the way back in 2003, and it’s still a good read. Highly recommended.
With all of this innovation coming on the Mozilla/Firefox side, you have to wonder how far libraries could take all of this. I want to push a lot of this with our SWAN catalog and create various plugins and toolbars, highlight them all on a single page, and let SWAN members either point to it or copy the code onto their own sites. Rich Allen sent me a link to NOBLE's Firefox Tips and Tricks, which comes close to this. It even mentions Smart Keywords, including how to use this with EBSCO. My only quibble is that all of this is hidden from their home page.
Let power users be power users they way they want to be, not by forcing them to use our advanced search screens! All I need are a few more hours in each day .
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