taking on library vendors – a call to arms

Sarah Houghton-Jan has had it, and I don’t blame her. Reading Meredith’s post about EBSCOs shady dealings just made be gnash my teeth again and wish that there was a decent way we could let our vendors know that sure we’d like to continue relationships with them, but they have to start giving us genuine options — good tools, decent prices, respectable service — instead of just assuming that they’ll always have a library market.

library vendors using twitter

Just in case you want to read or interact with library vendors in a different way, Bill Drew has created a list of library vendors who use Twitter. Granted this doesn’t mean they’re necessarily accessible in that way, but for people already on Twitter it’s good to know. This is part of the larger spreadsheet that Bill is creating about library vendors who use social software.

Also, someone asked me to mention why someone who wasn’t using Twitter might want to. It’s certainly gotten the attention of some of the major media, but what’s in it for an individual librarian or library? When I talk about Twitter, I stress a few things

– It’s a box you can type into that puts data on the web in a standard form. This means you can repurpose the content, pull it into a sidebar on your website and/or publish or read your feed or someone else’s in a format you choose (I use a client called NatsuLion that rolls up the side of my screen. Many people at CiL were using TweetDeck)
– Being able to have a friends list means you can keep up with what other people you choose to read about are up to. I work at home alone most days and I like the collegial feel of knowing what other librarians are up to. When I travel, I just stop reading it unless I’m at someplace where many people are using it.
– At CiL it was helpful to know where people were at, you can “broadcast” to a friends list “hey, this session is full” or “We’re at this session and it’s great!” which can give you realtime updates about an event as it’s happening. I enjoyed reading people talking about my talk while it was happening (after my talk, before my co-panelist), in little chunks not the constant stream that comes from something like a Meebo chatroom.
– It’s really replacing blogs as the place to read breaking type news that happens in places where Twitter-enabled people are. This is a big caveat though. People have always said “news happens where the reporters are” When there were wildfires in San Diego, Twitter was very useful for people. When there’s a natural disaster here in Orange County Vermont, not so much.

Twitter, more than other social software, seems to me to be a case in which evaluation of your community is a good first step. Have people in your universe who use it, especially other media or established folks? Might be neat to either use their feed, start your own or just use the search feature for keeping current on what’s going on in your area. I don’t think it’s a situation where people will be asking the library “Are you on Twitter? Why Not?” at least not in the near future.

update: just checking my feeds and I note that Brian has an example of how twitter solved a problem for his library and Jenny offers some organizational advice.

Who Has What – Vermont libraries’ automation systems

Vermont has a new State Librarian and I’ve been diving into more of the reports from the state Department of Libraries lately. Their most recent newsletter mentioned the Who Has What page which is a list of which vendors all the automated lirbaries in Vermont are using for their catalogs. What isn’t mentioned is that Vermont has about 192 public and community libraries. The DoL list has 86 libraries listed in the public section. You’re getting that little unstated statistic, right?

our rights to have download/usage stats for databases

I am sorry I didn’t link to this earlier, but Anna Creech’s back and forth exchange with one of their journal vendors should be a reminder that it’s very important for libraries to advocate for their own best interests, and those of their patrons. When a library’s desires conflict with publishers desires — as in this case where Anna’s library wants download/usage statistics and the publisher does not want to provide them — we need to remember that we are the customer and it’s totally appropriate for us to make sure that the products we’re purchasing are being used. We shouldn’t have to survey our own users to see if and how our databases are being used, that data should be available for us to be able to make informed purchasing decisions with.