make sure you know the gazingus protocol!

Every now and then I’m asked if I know how to do something I don’t know how to do. Most recently this came about when the staff at the school I work at wanted to learn Macromedia Contribute, for messing with their web site. Did I know how to use Contribute? No I did not. Could I learn it before I had to do a training on it for novice computer users in a few weeks? Sure I could. And, unlike those questionairres you had to fill out when you signed up with a temp agency, I didn’t even have to fib, I just said “I’ll start learning it today.”

Everyone’s lists — like this recent one on LISNews — are great. However, the world changes and what is right for today’s librarian might not be right for tomorrow’s. So, I’d add to this list and to these lists generally, the ability to learn as you go and teach yourself new things. If someone tells me that the job I want requires intimate knowledge of the gazingus protocol, then I guess I’d better learn it, and fast. Since I have a good working knowledge of computers generally, learning something specific about them is usually not too difficult. This is helpful at my job and I bet it would be helpful at yours.

emergencies, public information, and libraries

When disaster strikes, is the library web site a place you could go to for breaking news, even if the library was closed? I hate to be a disaster vulture, but I always wonder when things happen like the tsunami, or 9/11, or this hurricane, what is the library’s role? How could their web presence help people? Here are some other New Orleans web sites, to demonstrate what I mean.

  • the Loyola web site automatically redirects their home page to the emergency announcement page and includes a bright yellow button on the footer of every page on the site so even if you start on a page within the site, you’ll see their announcements.
  • Louisiana State has a news sidebar explaining that the school will be closed
  • The Louisiana Library Collection Database even managed to put two links in which aren’t too styling but direct people to FEMA and the National Hurricane Center
  • LSU Health Sciences does it quickly and simply with a big emergency headline across the main page.
  • Nichols State even appears to have a blog ready for emergency preparedness with a way to post regular updates, linked off of the main page.

My question to you: if there was an emergency, could you update your library home page quickly to inform your patrons?

update: due to sporadic electricity in the Louisiana area, many of these sites are now down. I’ve added a bit more description in lieu of actual pages you can look at.