Posts Tagged ‘community’
July 21st, 2011 • 6 comments library
Tags: administration, angry, annette de faveri, australia, beth davies, blog, bureaucracy, communications, community, community-led libraries, courses, danah boyd, disciplinary hearing, i got in trouble because of my blog, koha, libr559m, libr579b, module 2, offline, online, opac, participation, school, social media, twitter
Information professionals should be using social media if they care about the rest of the world. I mean, I’m a fan of cataloguing in a cave, but engaging with your community is important. Even if you’re the most locally focused librarian ever in a community where none of your users give a shit about Twitter it’s important to be using it to pull in information and to show off the knowledge being created in your community.
One thing we learned in our Community-Led libraries course with Beth Davies and Annette de Faveri was the importance of not coming into a space with an agenda. Not showing up and saying “Here are some awesome things the library can do for you!” but hanging out and asking what is happening with them, letting the community lead the library. That takes a long time. I think participating online requires a bit more push than that, because if you’re just hanging out as a library, not talking on Twitter, you’re invisible (in a way you aren’t when you’re sitting in a halfway house with a box of donuts).
I also think the idea of a limit to our participation in social media is stupid. I mean, sure, posting pictures of patrons on Facebook without their permission is a bit sketchy. But stopping information professionals from being part of the world just because of who their employers are is bullshit.
A story from work: A library in Northern Australia was making use of some of Koha’s features to integrate a blog onto the front page of the OPAC. The library staff were creating this information to participate in the wider world and were really proud of it. And then their Communications Department found out and shut it down. Not because of something bad that happened but because of stupid bureaucratic power disputes that said librarians aren’t authorized to create publications. That story makes me incredibly angry. To have participation curtailed by the communications department who wanted more control over messaging is kind of terrible.
Part of my visceral reaction to that story has to do with my personal history working at a public library that had a regressive attitude towards people talking about things online. I was disciplined for blogging about work on my personal time. The disciplinary hearing involved the director of our library telling me I was not fit to be a librarian and shouldn’t go to library school because of my disrespectful attitude. This experience led to my disclaimer/explanation page you can see linked to on my library blog’s of Opinions & Assholes page, and you can read some of my other ruminations about privacy and the like when that former library actually created a social media policy because of me. That link includes a response to a danah boyd article.
I don’t really understand why libraries wouldn’t use RSS. Maybe if your library doesn’t do anything you want to keep people updated on?
A really basic use for RSS (and Twitter) is to have a constant stream of interesting things past your eyes. For a library, spotting the things in those streams that might be useful for passing on to their users is great. It shows they aren’t siloed off in their own little world of books, and acknowledges that the world of the internet is part of the library. Even something as simple as subscribing to feeds from your user groups’ websites to know about the events they’re having is a big deal. That’s how you become part of the community. You can’t rely on people coming into the library to tell you things. You have to be proactive and give the users a way to shape their own experiences with your institution.
An example of things librarians can do to make their catalogues more accessible with RSS is to make it easy to set up RSS feeds of OPAC searches or tags or lists. If as a user I come to the site looking for books with strong female protagonists and I find that the users have tagged a pile of great books with “badass heroines”, if I can subscribe to that tag cloud those books show up in my feedreader that’d be sweet.
RSS can push the library out into people’s consciousness without requiring them to come all the way to the site to see what’s new. People are lazy and if they can get the information they want given to them in the way they want it, that’s great.
July 14th, 2011 • 2 comments library, tech
Tags: affordances, australia, blog, catalogue, community, ils, information, institution, koha, libr559m, module 1, objects, organizations, people, personality, powerhouse museum, school, social media, sydney, twitter
One of the biggest uses for blogging or tweeting is to show that there is a person there as part of the institution to interact with. When a user is faced with solely a catalogue they’re dealing with a collection of items, be they journal articles databases exhibits or books (which I hear do still exist). When you include some sort of dynamic content that’s been made by a person, you’re reminding the user that there are people behind these services.
Example: The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney (Australia – it’s where I’m on my co-op so you’re going to get antipodean examples) is using Koha as their ILS. Integrating their library blog onto the main page of the OPAC makes the catalogue a destination for users. And then when the librarian is blogging about something in their collection (and they’ve got some cool stuff) and deep-links to it, that’s giving the user examples of how people can interact with the catalogue.
Having a personality that reminds people The Library isn’t some building but a collection of librarians is important, and not only when budgets are being threatened. Users are more likely to engage with you if they know there’s someone to engage with.