Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thing 56. LinkedIn

 Are you LinkedIn? Maybe you have checked it out? Well, if you haven't looked at LinkedIn (LI) lately, you may want to revisit the largest business networking site on the web. Initially known for its use in connecting employers with potential employees and vice versa, LI has become much more. Creating a free LI profile (for yourself or your library) opens a door to connect with others in your field who are already LinkedIn. Once connected, the possibilities for sharing common ideas, problems  and solutions are just a post away.

Say you are having difficulty using a MS Excel feature and just want to ask a question. Write up the question and put it out there. Within hours you will hear from people skilled with MS Excel offering directions on how to use the feature. You may receive 5 or 50 responses, and you may have to sort a bit to find the one that speaks to you at your level, yet the chances are good you will get the help needed to resolve the problem. 

Another really useful tool in LI allows you to seek out, join or even create a group. A search of existing groups related to library professionals produced 127 results, library networking groups found 47, while library non-profit groups totaled 57. Being part of a group allows you to gather input, share input, and participate in activities related to group involvement. Example -  your library is conducting some research on the most current trends in children's programming. You can post a survey to your group  requesting input and gather programming ideas from around the globe.

LI is a great place for you to market yourself and your unique set of skills and experiences. Building group involvement expands your own knowledge base on issues and trends, and offers the ability to collaborate, share and grow. LI is also gaining popularity as a social marketing tool for more non-traditional groups that may not consider themselves a business.

Maybe it's time to get LinkedIn and powered up! Visit or revisit http://www.linkedin.com/ and check out all of the potential.

By Lynn, Stern, SAMMIE

Things 55. Google OR Bing - Which Thing?

Are you “gaga" over Google  or "bonkers" for Bing? Most of us are familiar with the many facets of Google, but it's time to take a closer look at Bing. Since its launch in 2009, Bing has offered an alternative to Google. While similar to Google, Bing offers a variety of unique features.

Bing takes a simple approach while inviting you in to search the web, news, travel, and shopping. You can also look for videos, search for images or maps, look up local businesses or begin with a visual search. Some key aspects to Bing include ease in exploring "how" Bing works as a search and decision tool.

Bing also provides toolbox access for webmasters, businesses and advertisers – including search engine optimization tips and advertising opportunities to make money on your site. Bing also promotes community connections with the use of forums and blogs and has a rewards program for users, such as “cashback” options while shopping. So far it sounds like Bing and Google do basically the same thing, yet each application has distinctly different offering

Of the many Bing features, below is a highlight of just a few that may be useful to you or your patrons.

Check out the ability to hover to the right of search results to get a quick snapshot of the item before actually looking at it. Example: search for your library, then hover to the right of the result. A box will pop up with basic information. Perhaps a patron is simply trying to locate your address and phone number - there it is! This tool can be very useful in locating what you are seeking with less search time. It can also be a helpful patron tool in deciding if they are even starting with the right search topic.

Searching is conveniently topic-layered to make choice easier. Example: looking for information on an author? Pick your favorite and notice as you type in the name you will see that the results begin to organize in specific categories, i.e. biography, books, book titles, etc. If you are just looking for books or a specific book listed, there it is!

Want to know what or who is hot or not? What's the trend of a book? Choose "Explore" on the Bing search page, choose xRank, click and type in the topic or person to check on popularity. Not only do you get a graph, but some additional general information as well.

No Twitter for you? Bing can still keep you up-to-date on the latest tweets - check it out at www.bing.com/twitter.

Not sure what that "thingy" you are looking for is called? Bing has visual search capability. Example: you see a cool cat-grooming tool while visiting a friend. You can look up cat grooming tools, begin an image search, and within minutes find out it's called a "cat slicker brush with combs."

Bing has many other functions worth checking out. Once you begin exploring you can find a variety of applications that can enhance your search experience. There are many tools that can be quite helpful to patrons as well. It is clear that Google and Bing each bring something different to the screen. If you’re curious to see a side-by-side comparison of the two, visit this site.

By Lynn Stern, SAMMIE