I sort of like the “Slam the Boards” idea of librarians showing up on “answer sites” on September 10th and indicating that the answers they give are by librarians. It’s a neat idea. It shows librarians interacting with social communities and (hopefully) providing good quick reference. We shine when we’re giving answers, and less when we have to exert control over complicated real life situations. I would like to say, however, that if you come to my place of work, that being Ask MetaFilter, arguably one of the more awesome “answer sites” currently in existence, you’ll need to know a few things.
1. We have many great librarians already, over 50 at last count, though it may be more like 100, and these are only self-identified librarians library workers and library students.
2. You’ll have to pay $5 to join. One of our great techniques of keeping the riffraff out is out $5 lifetime membership fee. Works amazingly well.
3. You should learn the culture some, learn how to give answers, how to not tell people to JFGI (as if you would!), not to sign your posts and not to get in fights or make stupid jokes in AskMe threads.
4. Don’t toss up a bunch of bibliographic citations when a decent URL will do. You’re online, act like you’re online.
I think this idea is a neat one, but could backfire if we spazz out into every existing community and assume that because we’re librarians every bit of advice we offer is like manna from heaven. If I were planning to participate in this — and I’m not because I’ll be working — I’d spend some time between now and 10sep07 learning a bit about the places i was planning to go. Nothing says you really care like getting to know your patrons. Go. Be awesome.