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Help with SharePoint is on the way in The Adventures of SharePoint Reading Bee© Animated Series

By Lorette S.J. Weldon, Published on February 20, 2012

Introduction

Imagine walking into the library without worrying about file compatibilities and adjustments of applications to do what you want when you want. All you would see is just a library with your workstation. When Microsoft SharePoint is properly implemented, it could blend into the background. You would never know that it was there. The biggest problem with SharePoint is telling people it is there in the first place.

Problem

There is panic in the workplace. World-wide pandemonium has spread throughout offices in the association, government, law, education and medical/health sciences sectors. Microsoft SharePoint exists on their servers and staff are being required to make use of this technology. Management wanted to increase the efficiency of their organization, departments, units, and individual staff. But what could this platform do for the workplace? Microsoft clearly stated that SharePoint "quickly create many types of sites where you can collaborate on Web pages, documents, lists, calendars, and data" (Evans,2012). The next question is how could it help you?

The problem stems from too many sources on the Internet with generic or non-related answers. There are no "free" online videos "customized" for the librarian or information professional on how they can do their jobs without worrying what SharePoint can and cannot do. Using an information system like SharePoint should be as effortlessly as we quickly jot down notes from a phone call, demonstrating "writing, perhaps the first information technology: The ability to capture a symbolic representation of spoken language for long-term storage freed information from the limits of individual memory" (Weiser, 1991). Weiser (1991) suggested that this "literacy technology" is ubiquitous in our culture through books, magazines, and newspapers displaying "written information". We just glance at a document and we see information about various topics.

Anything related to information systems management is sometimes garbled by jargon of catchphrases from sales representatives and techno-speak from the Information Technology department. It is garbled because the end-user is only interested in what he or she wants the system to do. The code and schematics behind the workings of the system are not needed by the end-user.

Literature

Weiser (1991) believed that ubiquitous computing pertained to how humans learn how to use the technology. He stated that "whenever people learn something sufficiently well, they cease to be aware of it". This allows the end-users to only see, for example, the library and their workstation so that they can complete their work (See Figure 1).

SharePoint help animated series
Figure 1: End-users performing work related activities without hindered by technology.

For example, Donnelyn Curtis (DeSantis, 2012) created Facebook profiles based on real people from the early 1900's. Curtis is the director of research collections and services at the University of Nevada at Reno. This library project was conducted to show University of Nevada at Reno students experiences of college life from the viewpoints of students in the 1900's. The students already had learned how to use Facebook so the students were not paying attention to the technology of Facebook. Instead, they were paying attention to the content from these students crossing time and space to speak their minds. Weiser (1991) thought that when technology blended into the background and people would forget about it, the end-users were truly free to use the technology without worries.

When I attended a conference for my job, I took the library collection with me (Weldon, 2009). I used a sandboxed SharePoint site to send e-alerts to keep communication flowing with the customers (Weldon, 2007). They could request information through a form web part that would send me a reminder that the request needed to be answered. SharePoint acted like my Electronic Library Assistant (ELA) showing me a dashboard tracking references, acquisitions, and cataloging (Weldon, 2009). I also created a similar site on Google.

In SharePoint, the search engine was specifically tuned for the document library that housed an electronic collection that would help me answer customers' questions. This was validated through Weiser's (1991) findings, emphasizing "devices that transmit and display information more directly". Ubiquitous computing would mean that the ELA would use GPS technology to adjust activities needing attention by knowing where it is thus adapting "its behavior in significant ways without requiring even a hint of artificial intelligence". To interact with ELA, I would need a phone with Internet browser capabilities. Customers did not feel any interruptions in service while I was away from the physical office (Weldon, 2009).

Possible Solution

To maintain Weiser's belief of being sufficiently trained in order to be free to use the technology, for example, SharePoint, for the job, I have created The Adventures of SharePoint Reading Bee © Animated Series. Librarians and information professionals are free to suggest ideas for future episodes "anonymously". This animated series is a free service trying to meet the business needs of setting up SharePoint to perform needed tasks from within the office environment.

Ever since I ran the How are you using SharePoint in your library survey, in 2010, librarians have been increasingly asking me to find out how Microsoft ©SharePoint can help them. The Adventures of SharePoint Reading Bee© will try to help break it down for the non-programmer in answers that do not require coding (See Figure 2). The SharePoint versions to be covered will be 2007 and 2010.

SharePoint help animated series
Figure 2:The Adventures of SharePoint Reading Bee© through GoAnimate© web application

GoAnimate© (http://goanimate.com), a free web application, was used to allow SharePoint Reading Bee© and her adventures to come to life. The Adventures of SharePoint Reading Bee©Animated Series is a free service offered to librarians and information professionals.

In order for this service to meet your business needs, after watching the first episode of The Adventures of SharePoint Reading Bee©Animated Series, please answer the survey. Your answers are anonymous and will be used to give SharePoint Reading Bee© meaningful and useful adventures for your various professions.

You can view The Adventures of SharePoint Reading Bee© and answer a 2 question survey to offer suggestions for future episodes at the following link http://weldon-researchers.org/sharepoint_reading_bee. On this page is a link to the 2 question survey that will take no more than 5 minutes to answer. The first question allows the participant to select specific popular topics. The second question allows the participant to type in other ideas not covered in the first question. The findings from the survey will help to create a better understanding of SharePoint to share with interested librarians and information professionals who are currently or will be working in the future with SharePoint.

References

DeSantis, N. (2012). On facebook, librarian brings 2 students from the early 1900s to life. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/on-facebook-librarian-brings-two-students-from-the-early-1900s-to-life/34845

Evans, M. (2012). What is sharepoint? Retrieved from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-foundation-help/what-is-sharepoint-HA010378184.aspx

Weiser, M. (1991). The computer for the 21st century. Retrieved from http://www.ubiq.com/hypertext/weiser/SciAmDraft3.html

Weldon, L.S.J. "How is SharePoint used in Libraries?" FUMSI, a FreePint Family Publication, at http://web.fumsi.com/go/article/use/4714 in August 2010.

Weldon, L.S.J. "Taking Your Library on the Road", Computers in Libraries. May 2009:12-16.

Weldon, L.S.J. "Googlization of the library collection", Special Library Association's Information Outlook, April/May 2009 (Vol.13, No. 3).

Weldon, L.S.J. "My Virtual Assistant saves the day", Computers in Libraries, November/December 2007:18-23.

Weldon, L.S.J. SharePoint without coding: My notes for embedding the librarian. May 2010. http://www.amazon.com/SharePoint-without-Coding-Embedding-Librarian/dp/1452821984/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3

Weldon, L.S.J. SharePoint without coding, Volume 2: My notes on the further embedment of the librarian. August 2011. http://www.amazon.com/SharePoint-Without-Coding-Embedment-Librarian/dp/1453700994/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_4