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In the upcoming website revamp one of the main concerns, outside of format and graphics, is bringing the library together on the website. The concept of a virtual branch is heavy in the air, the idea of ‘walking’ into the website and knowing where to go. Intuitiveness, in short. This can be a tricky concept, since no two users will go to the same place or even have the knowledge to find those places the first time. That is why making the navigation and the layout as open and friendly as possible, yet keeping a keen and contemporary look is so important.

However, perhaps even more than this is showing our users what we have. Even customers that come into our library on a frequent basis often don’t realize the myriad of programs and services that the library offers. It’s only on the off chance they pick up a flyer or see a poster on the wall, just that one time. But is usually only takes that one thing to get them hooked. This is where I hope Web 2.0 technology will lend a helping hand. Already we’re putting ourselves out there on Flickr and Librarything and both have done well for the limited uses we’re currently employing them for. But they can do so much more. Using a blog to promote events and allow users to comment on whats going on, to give their feedback on things, what they like and what they don’t. That is important to any business these days, feedback when and where the customer wants it. RSS to keep them updated, along with explinations on how to use it, since we can’t assume anymore, about anything. And things like Flickr to chronicle what has happened, changes in the library, the history in pictures instead of dry paragraphs. That is what brings the library to life.

It will take time of course, though setting up and using Web 2.0 utilities is a heck of a lot easier than writing CSS and XML, I can tell you that right now. I’m rambling by this point, yes, but this is important to create a virtual branch that is as interactive as a physical one. (And perhaps less intimidating too.)

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There is a lot of talk about multi-tasking not just in the workplace now but in general, and how it can be unhealthy for us, though unfortuantely it seems that it’s impossible to get away from it now. I know I’m a serious multi-tasker both professionally and personally. (Though I must say I’m a lot worse at work.) Things like Firefox and its multitude of extensions only make it easier for us to do these things and so for my own interest I thought I would make a definitive list of what I use at work just for this purpose.

Browsers

Firefox

I primarily use Firefox 2.0 in my everyday life. It is by far my browser of choice not just because of its extreme amount of customization but because of its relative ease of use. (I can never get enough of talking about it to people.) I design in Firefox as well because of its high level of standards compliance.

Extentions

PermaTabs – This does just what it sounds like. I keep certain things open all the time to help keep me on track with things. I keep my Google Reader, my Ta-da Lists, and Meebo always open. I check my feeds a few times a day, use my lists to make sure I don’t forget anything, and Meebo to chat with coworkers at other places in the building since its a lot faster than calling if you’re just needing to get a quick idea across or toss a link their way.

Firebug – I use this every single day. This handy extention shows all manner of site code, allows you to edit it, and highlights different sections of a webpage just by mousing over. And that’s just the simple applications.

Web Developer – This is another extension I use everyday. It has an insanely large amount of options for breaking down webpages to see how they work. One can edit code live which makes my life a hundred times easier and the ability to turn elements on and off is very useful.

Clipmarks – I’m relatively new to this one but the idea of being able to clip out parts of the web just like you would a print source (not books of course!) is terribly appealing to me.

ColorZilla – This little extension gets pinpoint color from any place in the browser. I find it faster and easier to use than most anything else.

IE Tab – Since IE is my very last choice browser this allows me to view a page in IE inside Firefox.

del.icio.us – I tag. Lots. ^^ My coworkers and I also utilize the social tagging to save links for one another that we think might be of interest.

I also use AdBlock Plus, Download Statusbar, Foxmarks, Linkification, URL Fixer, and Aardvark. Lets just say I’m a little addicted.

Opera

Opera 9.1 is my second browser of choice. I don’t use it quite as much as Firefox but when the Fox is giving me trouble I always default to Opera. The built in BitTorrent client is certainly nice and the interface is very attractive. The widget engine is also pretty cool, though not quite as user friendly as Firefox extensions. I don’t recommend it quite as much to others simply because it is a little more advanced for people so used to IE. And speaking of…

IE

Internet Explorer 7 is my last browser of choice. I mostly only use it to test webpages in or if a site hasn’t been designed with Firefox or Opera in mind.

Some Other Programs

FileZilla – This is my FTP program of choice. It’s very simple and easy to use and lovely open source.

Joomla – The authoring system we’re using for our intranet.

I’m sure my experience in using things like Firefox and the like are different than other librarians. Even down on the floor in my system the computers that have Firefox installed are more interested in del.icio.us than most anything else. It makes me wonder what other librarians are using. What kind of extensions and software do you use to make your day go smoother?

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