Interviewing a librarian was an activity challenge for the course LIBR 559M at UBC
The day I met with D’Arcy Stainton, for this interview to discuss Social Media, he was in the thick of a Do-it-Yourself button making session in the Young Adult section of the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch. There was chaos everywhere, 45 teens cutting up discarded VPL magazines, line ups for the button making machines and an enthusiasm level that created a vibrant and pleasant energy throughout the area.
D’Arcy Stainton, Teen Librarian at VPL, says that his goal is to use the social media tools available to develop relationships that make the library a place, both virtual and physical, that is popular because it is meeting the user needs.
He believes that it is important to build real relationships in the community than you will work together as a team and if there are events such as budget fall outs or relevancy issues than you will be supported by the community because they recognize and participate in the services you provide. Social Media can play an important role in this relationship building between library and user. He is an advocate for the library’s active participation in what that relationship looks like and the possibilities of social media in the Vancouver Public Library’s strategic plan.
Traditionally libraries have used social media tools to push information out. This has worked well for postings of new materials and events etc. but not in building relevant and active relationships. It is much trickier to figure out how to use social media to develop relevant relationships.
D’Arcy would like to see libraries that have a Facebook (FB) presence that encourages FB users to ‘friend’ the library to then act as a ‘friend’ not as a business. He also believes that library twitter activity can be useful to relationship building but again the key is that the library should be a personality rather than act as a business or organization. The VPL’s new BiblioCommon catalogue interface also serve as a social media tool encouraging participation and collaboration and creation.
When D’Arcy was a Children’s Librarian using social media, his online personality was a puppet named Mortimer. Mortimer created and participated in the dialogue between the library and users and those interactions developed into a relationship.
Now as the Acting Assistant Manager of Teen Services D’Arcy is trying to develop a personality for the Teen Division of VPL that will be relevant online. At present, VPL has an active teen advisory program that is very participant driven. D’Arcy believes it is the librarian’s role to facilitate this program but not to lead it. Librarians lend their expertise, knowledge and support but the community of Teens direct the program.
- Teen Advisory Program at VPL
• Teen lead model (community based)
• Library offers Teens valuable life skills for future careers working on a committee.
• Teens learn how to write grant proposals take ownership for collection decisions.
• Teens are taken on collection buying trips and set free with a budget to spend.
• Teens create their own programs – librarians are sometimes surprised by the choices, the librarians would not have thought of, craft program, poetry slam, art walls.
• Budget restraints, limited resources, user needs, diverse community all become the agenda of the Teen advisory committee.
The Teen Advisory Program is very much a face-to-face relationship building activity. Then it is the memberships’ connection to their peer group F2F or online that builds a relevant relationship with the library that can then be further nurtured and developed by the library using social media tools. This relationship building is a work in progress.
Thank you to D’Arcy Stainton for taking the time from his busy schedule to meet with me to discuss his wishlist for the future of social media and Teen service at VPL.
Stainton, D’arcy. Teen Librarian @ VPL. Personal interview at the Vancouver Public Library. August 3, 2011. (Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 6B1 604-331-3623)