a few from the feed

As may be obvious, I’m a little behind on my feeds. The good news is that there’s a lot of good stuff there. The bad news is that you may have seen some of it. Here are a few quickie notes that I think merit some attention. My apologies if you’ve all seen them before. My personal goal is to be all caught up on feeds by the time I leave for ALA — Thursday morning — and don’t get behind again. I think it’s doable.

Why should libraries be socially networking?

For some reason, writing the talk about tech support in libraries has been making me think about libraries on social networks again. Maybe it’s the little push of friends I get on Facebook after I give a talk to a new group of people. Maybe it’s because I had to explain yet again that I think it’s worth powering through bad design and usability in order to have presence in a place where your users are or might be. Maybe it’s because social software seems like a free and easy way to give your library a human face on the larger Internet. Maybe it’s because after being at SXSW I just see social software as the default way to be on the web and so libraries that are moving forward with blogging and other web tools may as well expand into using social tools as well. This has nothing to do with 2.0 anything, although I guess you could see it that way.

So, to that end, I’m making a small list of ways that I think libraries and librarians can use thse tools to further the existing missions of their institutions. It’s nothing new, but I’ve been pondering it lately and I think specifics, and links to examples can he helpful. Feel free to add more in the comments.

  • Get your library a Flickr account. These accounts are now nearly free through a collaboration between Flickr and TechSoup. TechSoup has an article about how nonprofits can use Flickr. My advice: free image hosting and easy image uploading for staff. Consider uploading some historical photos that you can share with the people in you community. Check out what the Library of Congress has been doing and how much tagging and commenting is happening on their photos. It’s like a Letters to the Editor section for you archival photos. I use this photo quite a lot on my photoshop class, teaching people how to edit pictures.
  • Anyone can get an account on Facebook. Facebook now has the ability for businesses and organizations to create “pages” (as opposed to profiles) where you can put information about your organization. You can see a few library pages here: NASA Glenn Technical Library, Iowa City Public Library, The National Library of Scotland. You can click here to create your own organization page. For people who are already on Facebook, which includes a huge percentage of high school and college age people, they can become “fan” of your organization which means they will get your updates. If you already have a blog, you can set your Facebook page to automatically read and republish your RSS feed inside Facebook. I do this with my personal blog so people who are my friends on Facebook can read my blog updates. The same way Google really let us get information out of the web, people are searching their networks on Facebook sometimes before Google.
  • If you’re a librarian, think about getting on Twitter. You can read this post for background information about Twitter or this Library Journal article for more information about messaging services generally. This is not so much, as I see it, to communicate with patrons but to do two things. 1. create a short pithy easy to update RSS feed of news or information or links that you can repurpose to put on your blog, website, Facebook profile or elsewhere. 2. communicate with librarians who are on twitter in droves. When I was creating my talk I asked a question, literally hurled it out there into the aether, and got back seven or either useful responses within about an hour. That’s ready reference.
  • Added later: think about a 23 Things type project. Vermont is doing this. It’s an easy way to give staff a casual fun exposture to a lot of social tools and let them see for themselves what they’re good for. Offer continuing ed credits or other fun incentives. The set-up costs and investments are nearly nothing and the ongoing investment is mostly time. One of the things I hear all the time is that staff are interested in new technologies generally but lack the time to explore and so get technostressed because they feel that they’re jumping in to some very public online activities without feeling competent in what they’re doing or what they’re there for. a 23 Things project can help that immensely.

The reason I think it’s important to show good examples and best paractices is because we’re still dealing with libraries like Mishawaka Library which thinks that blocking social software sites in their library because they can’t manage unruly teens is some sort of solution to a problem. I’m not saying there aren’t problems surrounding public computer and internet use in libraries generally, maybe there are even sometimes problems with teens, but really responding to the problem by blocking wide swaths of the Internet is not really going to help anyone understand the problem better. It just makes libraries look hostile and librarians look reactive. I’m sure there’s a larger post here about dealing with teens + comptuers + internet + understaffing + the fear factor of unknown online socializing, but I feel that it’s all of our responsbility as online community members of various stripes, to provide positive examples of social software online. This is mine.

While I was away at the tech conference

card catalogs

Hi. It’s been a while. I was out of town at the SXSWi conference in Austin Texas. I was on a panel and hung out for a few days on either end. I went to a few libraries while I was out there. I also got to spend some time with David King who was the only other librarian I crossed paths with besides the gals at the librarian meetup which I missed because it overlapped with the MetaFilter meetup. David and I took in the exhibit floor and spent some time trying to explain to vendors why they might want to exhibit at a library conference.

I talked about “user revolts” on the panel I was on which included Gina from LifeHacker, Jeska from SecondLife and Annalee from io9 and many other locations in the blogoverse and elsewhere. The notes for my seven minute talk are here, just some backgrounder on MetaFilter and a timeline of some things that happened. I was surprised how many people who are newer at managing online communities (I’ve been working at MeFi since early 2005) were still grappling with how to deal with comments and user civility issues. I got to talk to people at Dogster and YouTube about what works and what doesn’t work to keep things under control. I also got to hang out with a lot of my “old school” blogger friends — where old school means you started your blog last century — and catch up with a lot of people who rarely come to my neck of the woods.

There were keynote talks by Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook (which went quite badly, check YouTube or the blogs for specifics), Frank Warren from PostSecret and Jane McGonigal from The Institute for the Future. Henry Jenkins and Steven Johnson gave opening remarks and talked a lot about how the nature of information and how we learn is changing and how we are shifting towards “lifestyle democracy” towards openness in more of our lives and shared experiences. It was good food for thought, especially as I tangle with tech issues and the digital divide here at home.

And, there was Twitter. When I’m at home, I like to keep an eye on Twitter because I like feeling there are other people working when I’m working, and I like to keep up with Libraryland and Bloggertown and my sister and random internet celebs in small doses. When the Eliot Spitzer news hit, I heard about it on Twitter first. Twitter told me when the parties I was walking towards were already filled to capacity. And, when I left my camera in a hotel lobby my friend who found it Twittered that he’d left it at the desk within ten minutes of me noticing it was missing. Now I’m home where my cell phone doesn’t work and catching up on news and bird feeding and teaching a Getting Started with Excel class. I’m heading to Michigan on Monday to give a talk at a Teaching Technology in Libraries workshop and then turning back around where I’ll be home in Vermont for most of the rest of the month. My Austin photoset is here and includes many nifty library shots (oooh Gutenberg) in addition to the standard “this is me at the hotel bar drinking with geeks” sorts of things.

I’m putting together a few more posts, one about SWIFT and one with the links I’ve seen that were worth a mention over the past week. I realize this blog is sometimes turning into “hey I was gone and now I’m back again but I’m leaving soon…” and I’ll try to do something about that.

Michigan Library Association – talks and notes

I gave a talk today at the Michigan Library Association: What Works: More My Library Less MySpace.

It was an all new from-the-ground-up talk about appropriate social technologies with some decent (and local!) examples of libraries that are doing Library 2.0 stuff, especially Twitter. I almost always rewrite my talks somewhat, but using the excuse that I wanted to learn to use Keynote, this time I started from scratch. Unfortunately I don’t have a sleek 150K html page to share with you, but I do have the slides in PDF or flash format. The librarians in Michigan are always excellent to talk to and with, and have a great sense of humor about forever being compared to Ann Arbor District Library in things technological. They liked my John Blyberg joke. I heard that Kevin Yezbick was supposed to be live Twittering my talk but blogocoverage seems to be thin. I have gotten a few Facebook friend requests, Twitter adds, and one really nice MeFiMail (MetaFilter’s in-house mail system) from a member who came to my talk and enjoyed it.

This morning I wandered around downtown Lansing and marvelled at some of the lovely buldings including the downtown library. I’d show you some photos but despite all my blabbing about 2.0 Tech, I left my USB cable at home. I get back to New England tomorrow and will be chatting Scriblio with Casey before heading home to a snowy Vermont and a sock sale. Thanks very much to everyone in Michigan for making me feel so welcome.