|SLA Hosts Library Buzz on Social Networking Tools|
Text and Photos by SIFRIYA DEVIN
On June 30th, SLA hosted their first Library Buzz Session on Info Island, featuring special speaker Steven Source aka Scott Brown in real life. Brown’s Session was entitled “Putting Social to Work: Real-Life Examples of Organizations and Info Pros Using Social Networking Tools” and centered on the growing influence of social networking in the library workplace. In real life, Scott Brown is owner and founder of the Social Information Group, a consulting firm designed to help businesses market themselves and communicate with their customers through the various tools of social networking. Prior to launching his current corporate venture, Brown served as a Senior Information Specialist with Sun Microsystems for nine years. His MLIS was earned from San Jose State University.
Brown’s session took the corporate view of marketability and applied it to the same community building needs of the library. By taking advantage of the multiple social networking tools available, Brown insists that a library’s levels of “presence and accessibility” within a community can be greatly increased. As a method of support, Brown noted that Twitter by-passed the New York Times and Wall Street Journal in overall site visitors throughout 2009. In other words, libraries need to embrace these tools that are gaining huge amounts of ground in overall popularity. However, Brown also pointed out that these are not just popular sites for entertainment purposes but based on the recent statistics, people are using these sites for information seeking purposes.
Despite the successes of the Topeka Public Library among others, Brown urged some caution based on the complex nature of actually diving into this new information path. The first hurdle Brown called attention to was the firewall restrictions that would have to be overcome by the Library’s IT department. He also brought attention to other issues such as copyright, privacy and apathy among patrons and administrators; for example, a possible lack of interest among patrons and a possible lack of dedication among administrators/authors of content. Not all libraries will be immediately effective with their new efforts. Brown also drew attention to the risk of getting staff too attached to the new technology and reminded listeners that a policy of balance in the form of time allocation in moderation was the key to maintaining healthy participation without the risk of other duties suffering neglect.
Once a library made the decision to get on board with one or several of these new tools, Brown suggested taking a broad look at who you are as a library and how you want to be presented to the public. The overall image of a library is important and should be consistent as administration and staff participates in official capacities. He also noted that once the decision is made to allow patrons to contribute content, a “loss of control” is encountered and can be hard to accept but remains an overall good step to drawing the patron base into active dialogue, as well as serve to help strengthen the bonds of community. While Brown feels it is important to “share your organizational voice” with your community, he also notes that these tools should not be relied upon as your only method of outreach but rather used as “complimentary to what you’re already doing.”
|Last Updated on Thursday, 10 September 2009 06:43|