Social Networking at the UT Libraries

The following post was contributed by our Outreach Librarian, Meghan Sitar

The University of Texas Libraries have maintained a presence in Facebook for several years now, starting as a Group before transitioning to one of the newer Fan Pages.  We’ve used this space to post content from our other social media sites, including blog posts from our New for Undergraduates blog, video tutorials posted on YouTube, and event photos published on Flickr.

With the redesign of Fan Pages and the ability to publish our content to our fans’ News Feeds, it seemed like a good time to reexamine how we were managing all of this and to look for methods of automating the interaction between all of these different sites.  At the same time, we had been hearing from students who wanted to see us on Twitter, which seems to have finally gained some popularity among students on campus.

Matt Lisle, our intrepid Instructional Designer, had the brilliant idea to link Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, and our WordPress blogs together using FriendFeed.

This is where things get a little complicated.

When one of these sites posts to FriendFeed, the post is then exported to Twitter.

Using a Facebook application called Twitter Fan Page Sync, we’ve linked together our Twitter account and our Facebook Fan Page.  Twitter then posts the same information it receives from the Friend Feed to the status on our Facebook Fan Page.

Perhaps an illustration is in order?

(Click the image to see the full version)

The benefit of this system is that the cross-posting between all of these outlets is automated and no one person is responsible for repurposing the content.  The time investment in posting to any one of these sites returns a greater yield since the visibility of that post is at least doubled.

We’ve seen some problems with the stability of the Facebook application.  While the FriendFeed postings are readily feeding to Twitter and then to Facebook, direct posts to Twitter only showed up in Facebook onces we installed a second Facebook application, Selective Twitter Status, which requires tweets to include a #fb at the end.

That small nuisance aside, we’re pleased to have found a way to consolidate our social media empire into one relatively simple system.

Flip video – minoHD

We just added a flip video: minoHD to the Library tech collection.  This is a small, 720p HD video recorder.  It will capture up to 60 minutes of video and connects to your pc with its built-in usb connection.  The built in software makes it easy to work with the video on your computer, but you may have difficulty on staff-build Windows machines because you cannot change where it attempts to locate the working files that it uses.

If you would like to check out this video camera, please contact Matthew Villalobos in TIS to arrange when you can test it out.

Update: CMS and the Library

As reported during the last Web Author Brown Bag, work has progressed on the Content Management System for the Libraries’ site. Web Authors have added to and maintained the following sections; News Releases, Army Map Service Maps, For Undergraduates, Perry-Castañeda Library and the Computer Science subject guide. In addition, two of the Web Authors who did not edit their content before, have been editing their content in the CMS in order to provide a realistic evaluation of the system.

[pageview http://www.lib.utexas.edu/dls/testing/cms-update/imagerotator.html “CMS Site Sections” ]

Noted features include…

  • Managing users/groups and roles
  • Editing content in the browser
  • Tagging and automating views of content (Ex: RSS, News Releases and Tag Clouds )
  • Managing/inserting Media, PDFs and Documents
  • Scheduling publication
  • Saving and comparing revisions
  • Tracking page views

[pageview http://www.lib.utexas.edu/dls/testing/cms-update/imagerotator2.html Features ]

Additional server configurations have been performed to optimize performance, flexibility and dependability. We are now ready to start the last phase of the evaluation. Thursday, April 22, the Library will display the News Releases, Perry-Castañeda Library, AMS Maps and Computer Science Subject Guide on the development server in preparation for publishing after all stakeholders have had a chance to review. This will help determine the scalability of the CMS and provide valuable information for further improvements.