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* Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mashing Winners

I didn't have much chance to blog about it during the summer, but I was honored to be one of the judges for Talis' first annual Mashing up the Library Competition. I thought it was a great idea, and I was happy to see lots of submissions. Winners were announced the other day, and John Blyberg won first prize for his Go-Go-Google-Gadget, which put Ann Arbor District Library feeds into Google’s home page for those patrons who cared to add them. Here’s the description from the Talis page:

“The First prize of £1,000 was awarded to John Blyberg of Ann Arbor District Library in Ann Arbor, MI. His entry, Go-Go-Google-Gadget, shows how simply library information can be integrated into the personalised home page offered by Google, and is described by competition sponsor and member of the judging panel, Talis’ Paul Miller, as ‘an excellent example of taking information previously locked inside the library catalogue and making it available to patrons in other contexts where they may spend more time than they do in their catalogue.’ Available information includes new and the most popular material in the library, and patron-specific information on checked-out and requested items. ‘Superpatron’ Ed Vielmetti applauded the simplicity of this entry, remarking in a clear invitation for others to follow John’s lead that “the visible source code is very tiny and easily hackable.” Vanderbilt University’s Marshall Breeding concluded, ‘I like this entry’s spirit of opening up information in the library system and putting it under the control of the user.’

John’s entry epitomizes everything I’ve been talking about for the last four years – shifting library services to where the user is, getting our content out from behind the wall, and making it easy for patrons to put our services where they want. I hope enterprising libraries will follow John’s example, and I hope the ILS vendors will help those libraries that don’t have programmers on staff to do this.

I was also happy to see that the Second Life Library won second prize, as this is another great example of taking library services out where the users are, rather than forcing them to come to our sites, either physical or virtual. From one post wondering out loud what might be possible to the incredible job and plethora of services that Lori Bell, the Alliance Library System, and the hundreds of volunteers from around the world have built. It might be a virtual world, but it has taken a lot of human effort and especially vision. This is the kind of wonderful synergy and teamwork that can be harnessed when organizational culture fosters creativity and innovation.

Here’s what the Talis page says about the SLL entry:

“The Second prize of £500 was awarded to the Alliance Library System in East Peoria, IL, and their global partners in the Second Life Library. Their entry, the Alliance Second Life Library 2.0, was described by Talis’ Miller as ‘both a testament to international co-operation amongst libraries and a compelling demonstration of the ways in which traditional library functions can be extended into cyberspace, reaching new audiences in ways exciting and relevant to them as they live their lives.’

What’s really cool about their win is that the prize money will go into further development of Info Islands I and II, where the librarians are providing services. I’m still very excited about this whole project, and I plan to open my virtual ALA office on Info Island soon.  :-)

There were several other very interesting and creative entries, so be sure to take a look at all of them. Even better, the next competition is officially open already. Rather than just waiting ten months, Talis wants to encourage innovative mashups all year-round, so you can submit new entries at any time. Paul Miller notes, “We will periodically assemble a team of judges to select the best submissions since the last time entries were judged. In addition, we will seek to reward particularly innovative or compelling examples on an ad hoc basis, outside the normal cycle of judging.” The Talis Library 2.0 Gang will be talking about the competition in the September 13 podcast. Michael Stephens and I are in South Carolina to give a presentation for the State Library's Public Library Technology Institute, so unfortunately we won’t be able to sit in on it, but I look forward to listening to my fellow judges’ thoughts on the entries.

So get your motors running now. Next round, I want to see something no one has thought of yet, something that really puts libraries out there on the cutting edge and blows us all away. I have great faith in librarians to accomplish this.

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