Library, museum and information centre staff should embrace modern social media platforms. When I say embrace I mean don’t be nervous to trial, test and promote services. Only from experimentation, will you learn what works and what doesn’t work for you and your library. Social media is here for the long term. While the names of some of the modern platforms may change in the future, this technology is only going to become more entrenched in our lives. With an array of modern smart phone and tablets, a mobile hand held library is now a reality.
All too often library staff don’t like the thought or risk of not doing a good job. This conservative / stand-off attitude needs to stop. I always go by the philosophy, if it benefits one user it has been a success. You will reach out to a whole new audience if you embrace social media technologies.
Another great factor in using social media is 99% of the platforms are easy to set up, requiring only a user name and email address, and better still they are free. Social media is truly a great way of updating and engaging with the local community. I remember reading a wonderful tweet regarding whether a library user would get a 1000 piece jigsaw completed before closing time. I have also seen a lot of great postings on events being held in libraries. There is endless library content and services that can be shared and promoted.
You seriously have nothing to lose. There is always many local youth users who would love to offer advice on what works and doesn’t. Ask these kids, they are the experts – now that is building a true community partnership.
Go on! Join in the social media world. It is important the library and information sector doesn’t risk having to play catch-up in this electronic world. Have fun! You can do it!
If it’s not on Google, it doesn’t exist? Right?
Google the world’s most popular search engine has become engrained in our lives. When we are looking for a shop, a picture, a fact, a sports result, people will constantly say “Google it!” You never hear “Bing it” or “Yahoo it”.
However, as library and information professionals, it is important that we realise that complete reliance on Google is not wise. Users also visit libraries for well researched and more in depth resources which are often found on a database that your library pays a lot of money to access.
Also, many local history and ancestry resources will not be found on Google but by visiting a local library or museum and chatting with people / community groups and often through accessing in-house resources.
When a no / minimal results are returned on a Google results page, users (and information professionals) all too often give up. I personally see it as a victory. A valid search in Google with no results illustrates your search is so niche that you have beaten Google - the search has nothing for you.
Instead of complete reliance on Google and other internet search engines, it is important to:
- consult with experts - your colleagues
- consult with the community – the knowledge of locals, particularly on old buildings, family, history etc is vast
- access research from subscriber databases
- visit other information centres, museums, local universities etc
In summary, don’t rely completely on Google. We are trained professionals and it is our responsibility to do the leg-work and complete more in depth research when required. Isn’t that why we got into the profession?
There has always been debate in the library world of what it is best to name library databases on a library website(s). Names include:
- Premium databases / websites
- Library databases
- Subscriber databases
- Online resources
- Electronic databases
- Digital library
As library databases give members access to an array of well researched, scholarly resources making users aware of this expensive electronic collection is essential. It is these librarian selected databases that truly distinguish research / recreation via a library different from that performed via simple Google searching.
The naming of databases (and hence user navigation) has always been tricky on most library websites. Would a member of the public be interested in clicking on a link called subscriber databases, reference databases or electronic library?
It is essential library staff have a good broad knowledge of the electronic collection to ensure the public is made aware of these brilliant resources such as National Geographic online, Mango Languages and Freegal Music. It is our job to educate.
I cringe when I know a library staff member has provided a user with a simple answer without promoting the electronic collection of which also has the advantage of being accessed at home using your library member’s PIN.
Please think of the entire physical and electronic collection when serving customers. There is no better feeling than making a user’s jaw drop with excitement when they are made aware of a particularly library database.
Databases cost a lot of money so let’s make sure we promote them to the best of our ability. It is important to remember it is the local library user (the taxpayer) who is paying for these resources.
A library in the limelight …. any publicity is good publicity … hehe
Internationally, most public libraries are tightening their belts to deal with the world financial crisis. However, it is critical local authorities remember that the provision of a wealth of physical and electronic resources, particularly to users of lower socio economic status, has never been more important.
The role of library staff in helping the vulnerable in our community has never been so valid. Closing libraries (the heart of the community) is a no brainer.
It is important that we as library staff understand there is a reason why users may be more demanding. Many are suffering from a lot of stress relating to finding work, feeding their family and deciding whether to study etc.
It is our role to provide help and as much relevant information as we can.