Why Don't CEOs (Library Directors?) Blog...
Director, are you Blogging??
Via the Church of the Customer Blog:
If CEOs blogged, they would save considerable time on hundreds of weekly emails that ask roughly the same types of questions. That's part of Debbie Weil's thesis in The Corporate Blogging Book. “Why not do it more efficiently?” she writes. “Instead of a one-to-one message, why not a communication from one to many thousands?" She describes the pro's and con's of corporate blogging with plenty o' pointers on how to do it well and not screw up. I read an early copy of the book and it's excellent.
So what about Library Directors? I know of a few that are blogging (see below), but I think it would be nice to have a few more -- in fact, I'd hope that more directors will be inspired AND the next wave of folks that move into admin positions would welcome the chance to speak directly to their users!
How cool would it be if the local newspapers syndicated their headlines with an RSS feed so that you could subscribe to them? And blogged "live" from government meetings? And posted dozens of photos (all the ones that didn't make it in this week's paper) on a Flickr account, especially if there was breaking news? OK, we're biased because we want them to do it so that we can feed the headlines, blog posts and photos onto our own Darien Community Matters blog, providing the most balanced, accurate and up-to-date information possible. And I guess that you could say that we're becoming Web 2.0 missionaries..... because we (that's me and Assistant Director Melissa Yurechko) invited Josh Fisher, editor of the Darien Times over to discuss it, as the first of a series of meetings with the local news media.
I wonder why many directors do not blog?
Could it be:
No Time?? Possibly, but wouldn't being able to communicate library news and important details about the business of the library to the most people with an easy to use mechanism be a useful tool? It would also set an example, that top-down buy-in that is important for technologyyy projectss and organizational shifts. Here's David King's take on the Time thing as well -- it deserves another link.
Fear? Are you afraid to put yourself out there? Afraid that a typo might slip through. It's time to let that go.We certainly don't have to publish our home phone numbers, but some human discourse from the top might be very welcome in many libraries, internally and externally. Folks don't care about a typo or two these days -- and heck, you can always go back and fix it.
I, as the administrator, and the one whose job is on the line, am willing to take a risk here. Why are others so risk averse? It costs us very little. Other libraries are doing it without problem, we are not first, and I'll be blasted if we will be last!
"I have nothing to say." Oh, yes you do! Tell your story, your day to day adventures, your thoughts on the library and its collection. Blog your plans and strategies. This isn't top secret work (well, yeah, some stuff is private), but blogging creates a level of transperancy that could benefit many libraries.
That's what the marketing/PR Department is for. Well, I'd hope that PR was blogging too, in a human voice, not the language of marketing that people can recognize these days so easily, BUT the voice of library administration carries a lot of weight too. Here's what the Cluetrain says oh so well: "But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about "listening to customers." They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf."
I spend an awful lot of time soliciting and then responding to feedback and suggestions from our users. Lately, the written suggestions in the box asking for "newer" and "better" DVDs have outnumbered the requests for specific books or authors by nearly 12 to 1. My response to the requests for newer, better DVDs has always been that we buy what Blockbuster doesn't -- the hard-to-find TV shows -- the series, the old shows & films, the BBCAmerica & PBS films -- and not the drivel (Oops. I'm showing my bias. Sorry) that appears in the theaters. However, when people request a specific title, whether book, music, movie, or magazine, we'll usually buy it.
I've just finished a lengthy analysis of our collection, including what we buy, how much it's used, and what our users ask for. The not-surprising conclusion I've come to is that DVD and Books on CD are used far more than our print collection. For example, one copy of a bestselling book by John Grisham got 59 circs during the period I was reviewing, while The Sopranos DVD recorded 354 circs. A Book on CD version of the same Grisham novel logged in 153 circs. Clearly, the format of choice is not print. In examining our reference questions logged in that period of time, requests for specific movies or Books on CD outnumbered specific requests for print materials by 5 to 1.
Finally, and I am sure this is not the case in most places, what's a blog? Directors, if you haven't spent some time with the new tools and these new conversations, now is the time. Ask someone on staff to show you some blogs. Then ponder how you and your library might use the medium to further your mission, reach out to users, and give human voice to the library.