Posts tagged ‘information’

Listen up, libraries!

I’m reading Tribes by Seth Godin, and I’m bookmarking a lot. Here’s a quote that is really pertinent to library-land these days:

many people (many really good people) spend all day trying to defend what they do, trying to sell what they’ve always sold, and trying to prevent their organizations from being devoured by the forces of the new. It must be wearing them out. Defending mediocrity is exhausting.

So true! One of the most common arguments I hear from librarians is this insistence that the quality of information we offer through our careful searching and vetting is so much better than Google/Wikipedia/flavor of the month/whatever. But you know what? It’s not. Quality is not just determined by content alone but by our ability to get that content to the people who need it, when they need it. Google and Wikipedia get that, and the quality of content they deliver is good enough for the vast majority of people. If we’re chasing people around trying to convince them that Google and Wikipedia aren’t good enough, we’ve already lost. The quality of our information sources is meaningless if no one uses them. If we can’t come up with a better raison d’etre, we are goners.


July 7, 2009 at 7:30 am

Reference 2.0: Ain’t what it used to be…

…And it never will again

Joe Janes

(fabulous, thought-provoking, funny presentation; no slides!)

Samuel Green 1876 – 1st article that talks about reference

  • problem is that there is too much information and people can’t find it
  • we need to step in and help people

special libs led the way for reference, followed by public, then academic

Now, there really is too much stuff, and people CAN find it, or they can find something, and there are lots of ways to get help – where does reference fit it?

  • Traditional reference service has to change
  • Worth assuming that everything eventually will be in digital form
  • Our world is ever more digital, and there are new ways of searching (horizontal, federated, deep dive)

James Wire: They will choke and die in front of you before they tell you what they want

How do we insert reference into this world?
Don’t bitch about wikipedia – get out there and edit it.

We are made for depth, quality, accuracy – for people who care or who can be made to care – we can respond to their needs

There are people who would prefer to be helped but may not know we exist

Find the niches where our strengths fit
Stop chasing things you can’t catch (google) – instead provide high-quality service to the people we can help

“individually communal life” – connected by various electronic means to people far and wide
every act of creation is just a way of saying “i want to be heard; I was here; I matter”

Participatory tools: no end product – no finish; the point is the participation
we have to live where our communities are living
we have to be heard and seen

Everything that happens in Second Life is about creation; answering reference questions is really not the point

  • Help people make their creative works more usable
  • we need to be more easily found
  • You need to be somewhere and everywhere (somewhere: provide place for storytime, study rooms, etc. – the physical space); and need to be everywhere as well, with web presence, etc.
  • Concept of the library is so much bigger and more powerful than the building

Make sure you are counting online use (web hits, databases, etc.) and use it to justify more money
in this increasingly digital world, people are helping each other, except…

Segmentation of our population:

  • for the people who are diving deep, specialized , willing and able to wait – we do reference and research
    • for now, print is our secret weapon (but shouldn’t be a secret), will change as the years go by
    • Print won’t go totally away, but will decrease as the years pass
    • Method over material – the stuff doesn’t matter, use whatever is appropriate
  • For people who don’t want depth, don’t want to wait – move them forward – give them a search tip, citation, etc. Someone else can help them with the next step
  • For the tendril people (connectors); help them tend the network (e.g. Slam the Boards) – lead by example
    • working between generations, keep in mind that everything will stop eventually – it’s not us against them
  • for people who are not information users, let them know we are there, but leave them alone

Don’t present yourself in a pigeon hole
The old days are not coming back

We have to be better online
Once they walk in the door, they’ve committed, but online they can be gone in a heartbeat – we have to be better online than in person

Overall win – more people getting more information they want – how do we help that be more effective?
Be confident, but not complacent – there’s a lot more to be done
There are more and better opportunities

October 30, 2007 at 2:57 pm

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." - Pearce