Monday, January 26, 2009

Week 3 - Wikis

This week we will be looking at Wikis. Wikis are websites that are collaboratively written and edited by their community. The following short video will show you how wikis can be useful for coordinating a project:

Wikis in Plain English
(approx. 4 minutes)

To be able to do the exercises below, you will need to create an account on the Wiki that has been set up for this week's activities. Please go to and request an account using your ryerson email address. It may take some time before you receive confirmation that your account is active. We are suggesting that you do this step now so that the account will be ready when you need to use it.

Wikis in Libraries

Wikis are being used in libraries for a variety of projects. Some libraries have decided to use wikis for their subject research guides, to build communities of users who have a common interest e.g. book lovers, and for creating a space where groups of staff members can collaborate on a project. Wikis are also useful in conference planning. Following are a few library-related wikis that you may want to check:

Scholars Portal Spot Docs
SJCPL Subject Guides
Bizwiki - a subject guide for business at Ohio University
Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki
Albany County Public Library Staff Wiki

Wikis at Ryerson

CCS is using a wiki internally to manage some of their projects. This wiki requires a login, but you should be able to view the introductory page.

Diane developed a wiki for use in the Issues in Marginalization course which had an assignment on Wikipedia.

Other Wikis

The most famous and often controversial wiki is Wikipedia. Our library users are using Wikipedia instead of other reference tools such as encyclopedias. One of the main reasons is that it is accessible on the web from any location at any time. If you haven't used Wikipedia, check it out. It is also available in multiple languages.

Much of the controversy that surrounds Wikipedia relates to the authority of the articles and the number of errors. In December 2005 Nature published an article on this topic: Internet Encyclopedias go Head to Head

Globe and Mail's Public Policy Wiki

Creating and Maintaining Wikis
There are a variety of tools available for creating your own wiki. Like blogging tools, wikis can be hosted on someone else's server (wiki farms), or they can be installed on your own server. For our exercises we are going to be using a tool called pbwiki which is hosted on a non-Ryerson server. Graham has set up the RULA2.0 wiki using this software. Before you start on the activities, you might like to have a look at:

pbwiki tour which will illustrate some of the features of pbwiki.

1. Create an account on the rula20 wiki.
If you created an account above, you can skip this step. If not, go to and create an account with your Ryerson email address.

2. Edit or create a wiki entry.
If you have your account, go to the RULA2.0 wiki and sign in. Once you have signed in there are many ways that you can contribute to the wiki.

You can edit a copy of the Ryerson Library entry from Wikipedia. The entry for the Ryerson Library in Wikipedia is outdated and needs some work. You can edit the entry yourself on Wikipedia, but we thought we would work on a copy here then upload all the changes to Wikipedia for the world to see.
Another option is to create some content for the recipes section of the wiki - you can upload food photos, submit a recipe, provide some cooking tips and tricks, whatever you like.

If you are not interested in food, feel free to create another section on any topic you choose.

After you have completed the above activities, post about your wiki experiences on your blog. Possible topics: how can we use wikis in the Library, can you see using a wiki as a tool to help with a group project?

Optional Readings

Using Wikipedia to Extend Digital Collections, D-Lib Magazine, May/June 2007

PEW Report on Wikipedia Users
Student Wikipedia Use Policy - Dept. of English, UCSB

Is Wikipedia Becoming a Respected Academic Source - Lisa Spiro, Director of the Digital Media Centre, Fondren Library, Rice University

Veni, Vidi, Wiki

Wikis and Libraries: Resources, Articles and Links

Monday, January 19, 2009

Week 2 - RSS Feeds

During our exploration of blogs last week you may have noticed a variety of little orange icons on some of the blogs. This week we will discover what they mean and how useful they can be.

What is RSS?

If you check several websites each day to keep up with the new items on each site, you probably realize how much time this takes. Wouldn't it be great if you could just visit one place and catch up on all your news instead of visiting all of these sites. RSS is the tool that lets you do this. For a brief description of RSS, check out this short (approx. 4 minutes) video from CommonCraft about RSS feeds.

Sites that have RSS Feeds

Many of the Library blogs that we looked at last week had RSS Feeds. For an example, go to the Information Wants to Be Free Blog. If you scroll down the right-hand side you will see a "My RSS Feed" with an orange RSS icon beside it. Click on the icon. You should get a page asking how you would like to subscribe to this feed and offering some subscription options. To be able to subscribe you will need to set up an RSS reader account which we will do as one of our exercises in a few minutes.

How Libraries are using RSS Feeds

In addition to providing RSS feeds from their news blogs, many libraries, particularly public libraries, are using RSS feeds to provide their patrons with lists of new titles.

Have a look at Cambridge Public Libraries offering of new books, cds and movies. Anything with an RSS icon has an RSS feed. (On another note, try clicking on the purple eye icon beside any topic to see how CPL displays their new books online.)

How Ryerson is using RSS Feeds

University Advancement maintains several feeds of news about happenings on campus. There are news feeds for Events, Campus News and Research News. In addition to being available for subscription, these feeds can and are used to provide content for some of the LCD panels you see around campus.
The Library is using a feed from its news blog to create the headlines that you see in the middle of the home page and to provide the same headlines to the News section of the MyLibrary tab in Blackboard.


1. Set up a Bloglines account for yourself.
If you have any difficulty doing this there is a Bloglines Tutorial that you might want to check out.

2. Subscribe to at least 10 rss feeds. Following are some suggestions:

Co-workers feeds

You can subscribe to your co-workers blogs by entering the url directly into Bloglines. Click on the add link on the top left-hand side of the page once you have logged into Bloglines. Paste the url in the box on the right side of the page. You will find the urls of your co-workers blogs on the right-hand side of this page. Add at least two of your co-workers feeds to your Bloglines account.

New Titles Feeds
You may also want to subscribe to some of our new titles lists for various subject areas. Choose one of the faculties Arts, Business, Communication and Design, Community Services or Engineering, Architecture & Science, then on the resulting page, click on the RSS icon beside a subject that interests you.

Other feeds
Bloglines also has a list of their top 200 blogs that may interest you. You can subscribe to any of these by clicking on the subscribe button.

RSS Feeds in the Wild
Any time you see one of the little orange RSS icons in your travels of the web, you can subscribe to that feed. Usually clicking on the icon will bring you to a page that asks you if you want to subscribe and will list several options including Bloglines.

Toronto Weather - RSS Link is at the bottom of
the page in blue

Once you have finished adding feeds to your Bloglines account, you will need to set up your Bloglines public url which will allow you to tell others about the feeds you are following and provide you with a link to add to your blog.

To set up and find your Bloglines public url:

1. Go to your Bloglines Account - login if necessary
2. Click on "Account" at the top right
3. Click on "Blog Settings" side of the screen
4. Enter a username and Click in the circle beside "Show my Blogroll".
Your public url will be listed on the right. Make note of this url as you will need this for your blog posting this week.
5. Click on the Save Changes button

To finish up this week's activities, create a post on your blog about this exercise. Suggested topics:
  • what you like and dislike about RSS and RSS readers
  • how we might use this technology in the library
  • could RSS feeds help you in your work or personal life
Then add a link to your public Bloglines account at the bottom of your post.

Here is an example of a public Bloglines url that has listing of library related blogs.

Additional Readings (Optional)
Keeping up using RSS by Roy Tennant
Feed Me: A gentle introduction to Internet Feeds (from Palinet, a library cooperative)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Week 1 - Blogs

What is a blog?

For a quick overview of blogs, check out CommonCraft’s video about blogs (approx. 3 minutes)

A blog (short for web log) is a means of easily publishing content on the web. Blogs have the following characteristics:
• Entries appear in reverse chronological order
• Entries are date stamped
• Content is archived

There are millions of blogs available on the web on every imaginable topic. The following list contains links to several blogs that you might want to check out:

Finding Blogs of Interest

There are search tools that you can use to find blog postings on topics of interest to you. Google Blog Search and Technorati are two of the larger ones that you might want to try. You can search them by keyword for blog posts or use the advanced search options to narrow down your search. Try searching for a topic of your choice or Ryerson Library.

Library Blogs

Many libraries have created blogs to publish Library news and happenings. One advantage of using a blog is that comments can be enabled on the blog. This allows readers of the blog to comment on the news items that have been posted and provides the library with feedback (both positive and negative about what the library is doing). If comments are enabled on a blog, you will see a "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.
After a slow start, the Ryerson Library news blog has finally started attracting more comments. One of our most commented upon items was the post about the new iMacs in the Information Commons. There are 34 comments on this post.

Here are a few library related blogs you might want to check:

A more comprehensive list of Library blogs is available on the LIS Wiki.

Ryerson Blogs

There are a variety of blogs in use at Ryerson . Some professors have integrated blogs into their teaching. For a short description of how Vinita Srivastava is using blogs in her classes, check this 2 minute video.
Other Ryerson Blogs

How to Blog

In order to create a blog you will need to use blogging software. This is not as hard as it sounds. There are many blogging services available on the web that let you to create an account and set up a blog. These are called hosted blogging services. Blogger, WordPress and Live Journal are examples of hosted blogs. Your blog exists on a web server somewhere out on the web and someone else looks after the running of the blog service. There are also blogging software packages that you can install yourself, but this is something you would probably only want to do if you are running your own web server. For the purposes our project we will be using a hosted blogging service.


IMPORTANT NOTE: How you choose to identify yourself on your blog is your choice. You can blog under a screen name, anonymously, or as yourself. To qualify for the staff incentives and prize drawings, you will need to let your team leader know the name of your blog (see step 2 below).

  1. Create a blog using either Blogger or WordPress. For this project it doesn’t really matter which you choose, but if you would like to know the pros and cons of Blogger and WordPress, check out this (you guessed it) blog post. You will be using this blog weekly to track your progress in the RULA 2.0 programme.

    To create a Blogger blog, go to and click on the orange “Set up an Account” button.

    To create a Word Press blog, go to and click on the blue “Sign up Now” button.

  2. Once your blog has been set up, create your first post on your blog. This post can be anything you want – you may want to write about your expectations for this programme or anything else of interest to you. Email your group leader and let him/her know the url of your blog. (If you are using blogger the url will take the form of or if using WordPress, A link to your blog will be placed on this blog.

If you have not yet been assigned to a group and don’t know who your group leader is, please send an email to to request that you be added to a group.

Feeling Adventurous (Optional)

Twitter is a service that combines social networking and microblogging (very short blog postings). Users post text-based updates , called tweets, of up to 140 characters which most usually answer the question What are you doing now? Interested, check out the Commoncraft Twitter video or check Twitter out directly.

Other Information about Blogs
State of the Blogosphere 2008 - Statistics about the who, why, what, when and where of blogging.
Weblog Awards - Annual awards for various categories of blogs

If you have any questions, please post a comment here or contact your group members or leader.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

RULA 2.0 Learning Groups

Listed below are the RULA Learning 2.0 Groups, leaders and participants. The groups are designed to provide a smaller community where you can support one another by sharing ideas and challenges while working through the RULA Learning 2.0 programme. You are not limited to interacting with just your group members; feel free to talk to anyone participating in the programme.

The groups are informal and the group members can decide if the group would like to meet. Your group leader(s) will be able to answer general questions about the programme or you can ask questions or make comment on the weekly activity blog postings.

If you name is not listed in one of the groups below, please send an email to and you will be added.

Group 1
Leader: Fangmin Wang
1. Sue Giles
2. Dan Jakubek
3. Elizabeth MacLaurin
4. Don Kinder
5. Lei Jin
6. Noel Damba

Group 2
Leader: Brian Cameron
1. Joan Parsons
2. Anna Tassone
3. Hope Farrugia
4. Farzana Khan
5. Ophelia Cheung

Group 3
Leaders: Weina Wang and Jeanine Orleans
1. Robert Mazur
2. Michelle Chen
3. Ursula Trescases
4. Jim McKelvey
5. Shellina Sajan
6. Michael Macdonald

Group 4
Leader: Kelly Dermody
1. Beth Knazook
2. Rosalynn Mackenzie
3. Ursula Nocon
4. Madeleine Lefebvre
5. Liz Bishop

Group 5
Leader: Naomi Eichenlaub
1. Val Lem
2. Aileen Farray
3. Lies Weijs
4. Jadwiga Kiebalo
5. Doris Lovadina-Lee
6. Maria Nunes
7. Carmen Brown
8. Laurie Woods

Group 6
Leader: Graham McCarthy
1. Alan Miller
2. Dana Thomas
3. Kraigen Brown
4. Mandi Arlain
5. Denise Matchett
6. Donna Kewley

Group 7
Leader: Sonny Banerjee
1. Sina Emami
2. Jane Schmidt
3. Kelly Kimberley
4. Jey Wolofsky
5. Helene Desouza
6. Abraham Kassa

Group 8
Leader: Sally Wilson
1. Debra Jo Sujka
2. Zita Murphy
3. Trina Grover
4. Anna Huta
5. Val Fox
6. Rosita Leung
7. Jean Emanuel
8. Lucina Fraser