Bronwyn's Library Blog

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Librarianship is moving away from rules and regulations to a more flexible response to the user. Marketing has taken hold of our outlook and we need to respond to that user and meet his/her needs rather than standing in place relying on outdated systems that once read like a gospel.

It's the message in two disparate blogs recently.

Meredith in the Information Wants to be free blog gave a wonderful post about the possibilities of libraries using Myplace and similar social networking tools.

Building Presence in MySpace and Facebook

A lot of libraries have started building presence in MySpace and Facebook by creating profiles. And I honestly think this is a really good idea though unfortunately most libraries are doing it really badly.

When you decide to put up a library profile on MySpace or Facebook, what is your goal?

If it’s to look cool or to make students more aware of the library, don’t bother.

A profile that offers nothing but a picture of the library, a blog post or two and a cutesy thing about how we won’t shush you just looks cheesy. I think there is a big difference between “being where our patrons are” and “being USEFUL to our patrons where they are.”

I think some of the libraries in MySpace and Facebook have put a profile up, but they have not tried to make it useful to their patrons at all. Just putting up a profile does not make the library seem cool, nor does it make the library more visible.

And there's the outstanding post from the free Ranging Librarian. You will want to read the whole post, but here are excerpts.

You are not a format. You are a service.

The OPAC is not the sun. The OPAC is at best a distant planet, every year moving farther from the orbit of its solar system.The user is the sun.The user is the magic element that transforms librarianship from a gatekeeping trade to a services profession.

The user is not broken.Your system is broken until proven otherwise.

Most of your most passionate users will never meet you face to face.

Most of your most alienated users will never meet you face to face.

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to find a library website that is usable and friendly and provides services rather than talking about them in weird library jargon.

Information flows down the path of least resistance. If you block a tool the users want, users will go elsewhere to find it.

You cannot change the user, but you can transform the user experience to meet the user.

Meet people where they are--not where you want them to be.

The user is not "remote." You, the librarian, are remote, and it is your job to close that gap.

The average library decision about implementing new technologies takes longer than the average life cycle for new technologies.

If you are reading about it in Time and Newsweek and your library isn't adapted for it or offering it, you're behind.

If we continue fetishizing the format and ignoring the user, we will be tomorrow's cobblers.

Your ignorance will not protect you.

What a wake-up call!!



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