The Social Library

“Society has determined what the library of the past has been, and it is
society that will determine what the library of the future shall be.” Jesse Shera, The Foundations of Education for Librarianship

Via the Social Customer Manifesto:

http://www.socialcustomer.com/2007/04/from_transactio.html

Interesting piece that supports many of the statements we’ve been discussing. The Social library is a “shop” as well.

…a shop which ignores the attributes of 2.0 is a shop with a limited shelf life. Why?
1. Consumers want to co-create. If your shop site doesn’t allow the community of users to share their ideas about what it should sell, rate what is on sale, come together to propose improvements to what is on sale etc etc – you’re locking out all the value of the network. Let members of your community pitch next year’s ideas, rate them and shape them – and big up the things they love. If they score down some items – don’t sell them. The community has spoken.

Same goes for libraries: involve users in planning, hear them, act. repeat.

2. Two-way flow of communication beats the market: How do you know what your users want NEXT. The market shows you what they want now, and also what they don’t want – but it can never tell you what next year’s hit or miss is. Your community can – if you’re engaged in a two-way flow. This is genuine ‘consumer insight’ based on real conversations with real people – not on generalised assumptions that “we know our market”.

Blogs, community portals, wikis, etc all allow conversations. Is your library in the conversation business yet? This is so important for the future. It may make or break some libraries. I’m serious.

3. Convergence of buyer/seller/product developer/user/employee: If the employee and the user is converging in the concept of user generated content – the same can be said of communities of people trading together. eBay writes this large: The buyer and the seller converge. The buyer is also converging with the developer/designer (think BMW cars for a solid example happening now – the customer customises). This is a 3-dimensional version of a person – not a one dimensional “treat me as the customer… and only the customer” approach. In a ‘shop’ community environment one person can be a buyer/seller/developer/user/employee

How are our users customizing their library experience. How does the online presence welcome them? Last night, I wrestled with a library catalog for 15 minutes. The search screens offered no help. The mechanism for logging into my account was not explained. I simply gave up. I kept thinking “The user is not broken.” :-)

4. Trust is communal: Trust is now created in a wiki-way. The social tools of 2.0 (eg diigo) make it ever easier for people to share what they think of a product or a supplier with their community, rapidly and in a way that is much more readily trusted by most consumers than old-style marketing messages. Sony tells you its PlayStation 3 is the dog’s. The community tells them its made a heap of mistakes (1.1m views on YouTube of How to Kill a Brand 1.1m of PS3 vs Wii – apple style). How does your shop help the community decide what to trust?

I love this. Consumers do trust these mechanisms more. Do you trust TripAdvisor’s community of users and reviews for example? I do. I read a handful of hotel reviews and make a decision. Much better than the corporate hotel site.

How do libraries help the community decide what to trust. To me, that’s a big part of our mission. Context. Resources. Trust.

One thought on “The Social Library”

  1. Michael,
    thinking about trust, how much of that is our community’s trust in *us*? That we can (and will) make good decisions without being micromanaged by them ;) When do we stop listening and start doing?

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