Christine Rooney-Browne writes:
After filling out a customer comment card I posted about my experiences on my blog, Library of Digress. I received several comments from others expressing similar concerns in other local authorities. The Head of PR for Glasgow City Council, Colin Edgar, also commented and informed me that the problems with Facebook and MySpace were the result of “small technical problems” which have since been resolved. Flickr and YouTube are still unavailable, however, as Glasgow Libraries are concerned that minors might be able to view adult content via these sites. Twitter, on the other hand, had been added to the list of banned websites because it was “…relatively new so a decision hasn’t been made yet by libraries as to whether to permit access”.
I absolutely understand the need to protect and prevent users from accessing inappropriate content from public access PCs. However, I am unhappy that this is being used as a justification for banning access to useful websites, especially when users could easily stumble across inappropriate content on websites that are not banned. So as a member of Glasgow Libraries I am unable to browse photography collections on Flickr, view webcasts on YouTube or share information on Twitter, at least for the time being.
This experience highlights the inconsistency that exists in Scotland in terms of public libraries providing access to and supporting web 2.0 services. It also draws our attention to a possible lack of awareness about what these websites actually do and misconceptions regarding their value. In addition, it communicates a mixed message to library users throughout Scotland with some being unfairly disadvantaged as a result of local internet filtering policies.
I am totally knocked out by the excellent work ALA Emerging Leaders Team I did on creating screencasts to highlight all the wonderful features of ALAConnect. As Web Advisory Committee chair, I became the group mentor but my schedule and duties didn’t allow much mentoring – but I knew they were in good hands with ALA ITTS staff who offered support and guidance throughout the project. So please allow me to send them a public “WOOOHOO” on a job well done!
Take a look at the screencasts. You’ll find a promo video, a video highlighting how to integrate Connect with the social tools you currently use, ways to monitor other groups, and much, much more.
This one is a fave:
To all involved – great work! TAKE A BOW.
To folks who haven’t checked out Connect yet, please use these screencasts as a way to get started. You won’t be sorry.
Gary Hamel notes: “The experience of growing up online will profoundly shape the workplace expectations of “Generation F” – the Facebook Generation. At a minimum, they’ll expect the social environment of work to reflect the social context of the Web, rather than as is currently the case, a mid-20th-century Weberian bureaucracy.” He offers a set of ideas that tomorrow’s employees will look for in progressive institutions:
- All ideas compete on an equal footing.
- Contribution counts for more than credentials.
- Hierarchies are natural, not prescribed.
- Leaders serve rather than preside.
- Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it.
- Opinions compound and decisions are peer-reviewed.
- Groups are self-defining and -organizing.
How does your library stack up?
Christine Rooney-Browne, a PhD student based at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, wrote back in March about her experience at The Mitchell Library in Glasgow “soaking up the atmosphere from the latest Aye Write Book Festival:”
I had thought it might be a good idea to tweet about the events I attended but when I tried to access Twitter on The Mitchell Library’s public access computers I was informed that Twitter was considered to be an ‘unacceptable website’. Surely not, I thought, so I tried again, on a different computer. Same message again. Made me wonder about what else would be blocked. Attempted to login toFacebook and although the ‘unacceptable website’ message did not pop up, a strange login screen did and when I attempted to type in my user name and password I realised that nothing was appearing on the screen. Seemed to be locked out of that one as well. Tried MySpace, same thing! Okay, they’re blocking social networking websites I thought….but then something happened that made no sense whatsoever. I was able to login to Bebo no problem. I also tried to access Flickrand YouTube but they were inaccessible too. Stranger still was what I found out later. Glasgow City Council had been using Twitter to help promote the Aye Write festival, and there were buttons on the Aye Write website encouraging users to visit their profile on both Facebook and MySpace…
Read the comments – it gets very interesting – including an exchange with the head of Marketing and Public Relations at Glasgow City Council. Christine wonders why Twitter is blocked when the GCC is using it for promotion:
We’re having a look at that just now.
You’re throwing up another interesting question for Local Government: Do you get back to the customer with what information you have, thus ensuring that you give a quick, although not full, response? Or do you wait ’till you have all the facts before getting back, thus ensuring a full, but slower, response?
You’ll see I tend towards the former.
One other thing: we have a customer contact system which logs enquiries, complaints etc, and the responses and response times. I don’t know whether we’ve ever logged the message trail following a blog posting in this system, so this could be a, small but significant, first.
Best – C
This really speaks to the next barrier libraries are running up against with social networking: governing bodies above the library. These are the folks we need to be talking to – library folk are doing pretty darn well these days. I’m intrigued to hear what’s happened since this post. Are the sites unblocked?
I was working last week on various writing projects and updating presentations when it struck me I should check in and see if my hometown library Mishawaka Penn Harris Public Library had relaxed the ban on Facebook and MySpace that I wrote about on TTW and that Michael and I covered in the our LJ column. I called the library and spoke with the public relations person. Through the course of our conversation, I mentioned that I had sent the column draft and links to all of the online discussions to the library adminstration last year just as an FYI. It turns out the administrators never received the email. The very same day I received this letter from Victoria Gutschenritter, Assistant Director at the library:
To: Michael Stephens
From: Victoria Gutschenritter
Re: Transparent Library column
Last year at PLA I remember that you and others mentioned to me the article in Library Journal as well as the comments on your blog about the ban of social networking. Unfortunately I don’t recall receiving a copy of the article before it was published, information of the publishing deadline, or information about a deadline by which you would like a comment from our library.
Since mid-December 2008, we have been using SAM, Smart Access Manager software made by Comprise, to sign up patrons with MPHPL cards (or patrons who are eligible for visitor passes) to computer access, monitor their time, and charge before printing at all of our locations. This has helped increase turnover so that more computers are available to patrons. With the increased requests for Facebook by patrons to communicate for social and business purposes, the Library Board of Trustees is considering allowing access to Facebook on a trial basis. A final decision has not yet been reached. Any breaches of the patron code of conduct will be dealt with in a timely manner to maintain a safe environment for all. If the Library is forced to increase its security hours, the trial will not become a permanent change.
Thank you for your continued interest in your hometown library system.
Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library
I am happy to get this news from Mishawaka and I hope the board quickly decides to get rid of the ban on Facebook. I pay yearly property taxes in the city and I hope my hometown library will see the importance of offering access to one of the most used social sites around. In the past few months, all the folks I knew at good ole Mishawaka High School have found their way to Facebook. It’s a shame many of us who still live in town couldn’t get to our profiles, walls, inboxes and apps at the library. I also use Facebook in my teaching – and shouldn’t resources used for education be available at the public library?
I would also invite the adminstrators, librarians and staff at MPHPL — and citizens of Mishawaka if they ever find this blog — to share their thoughts here or at the original TTW post. I’m very interested in what they have to say!
Do not miss this intriguing discussion that really speaks to the sea change were in.
Star here, with this post from Bob McKee, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP): (emphasis in bold mine)
There’s some twittering at present about whether CILIP has (or should have) any “official” presence on various lists or micro blog sites.
The simple answer, of course, is no. In terms of “official” activity, cyber life is just like real like – if it happens in a CILIP-sanctioned space, it’s official; if it happens down the pub or in someone else’s space, it isn’t.
But there’s a deeper question to address. As everybody networks with everybody else in an increasingly informal and always-on way, how do organisations maintain a culture of inclusion and, at the same time, retain a methodical approach to work planning, managing, and decision-making? This is a critical issue for organisations like professional bodies or indeed academic institutions – any organisation where a rational approach to management is potentially conflicted by the emotional affiliation of members to their peer group: academics to their field of study rather than to their university; LIS specialists to their field of specialism rather than to their professional institute.
Then, head to Phil Bradley’s blog:
… I like Bob – he’s a nice chap and very personable, but I can’t articulate enough how wrong he is on this issue, though I’ll try. He says ‘There’s some twittering at present about whether CILIP has (or should have) any “official” presence on various lists or micro blog sites. Sorry Bob, but we were discussing this on Twitter two weeks ago. The boat has long since left on this one and we’ve moved onto other things related to CILIP now. This in itself is worrying – if you’d actually looked at Twitter you would have known this, so clearly you’re being briefed and are blogging about it without any real understanding. That’s fair enough in a way, because no-one can be on top of everything, though if it’s important enough for you to blog, surely it’s important enough to research a little yourself.
The more important issue isn’t that, it’s the delay in a response. Two weeks is not only unacceptable, it’s insane. We don’t live in a world where people have the leisure to take their time crafting a response; we did back in the day when websites were the way to get a message out, but then we moved into a response time of hours with blogs, and now we’re at minutes with Twitter. As a rule of thumb, I’m finding that a mention of an organization or company on Twitter is getting me a response within a couple of hours now. And these are companies, both large and small, who feel that it’s important to respond to comments from individuals, both good and bad. Less than this is sending out a very poor message indeed. Now, I know that the answer here is going to be referred to lack of staff, limited facilities and so on, and that’s simply a cop out. An effective use of resources, monitoring blogs etc can be automated, take very little effort to set up or use and information can then be disseminated through the organization quickly. In my courses I teach librarians how to do this, and in most cases it’s just pointing them towards the right tools. If they can do it on a personal level, surely we can expect the professional body to do the same thing?
Phil’s points are golden – especially about monitoring the conversation and the automated options that make it doable. Frankly, there will is no “sanctioned space” any more for organizations or associations. If you believe that – there’s a problem. the conversation will go on long after everyone has decided to ignore your sacred, sanctioned space. That’s what the “Hyperlinked Library” is all about – transparency, listening, responding.
Into the mix come Jenny Levine, and her take on ALA’s use of Twitter:
And wow did Twitter play a big part. Kenley Neufeld sums it up pretty well, and even notes how fun the experience was. If you had asked me, I wouldn’t have predicted that four councilors would tweet from the floor during council sessions, thereby providing an effective, real-time transcript of what was happening. Even beyond that, though, I got to participate in meetings I wasn’t physically at (from within other meetings), as did people who weren’t even in Denver. And good things came from all of it (including a helpful guide for what *not* to do).
So when we got back, I decided to do a presentation at the February ITTS Update meeting about Twitter on ALA. Not ALA on Twitter, but Twitter’s effect on the Association and the story of Midwinter that Twitter produced. Luckily, many of the people who tweet about us have a sense of humor, so there were some good laughs in the screenshots, especially about our content management system (Collage). So thank you to everyone who publicly tweeted about us in January, especially at Midwinter, because you helped me illustrate a moment in time when something changed forALA. I definitely think communication and conferences will never be the same for our organization, and I’m fascinated to see where this all leads.
As I was getting ready to hit the “publish” button, I saw Phil Bradley’s post about CILIP and Twitter (or lack thereof). It made me realize how far ALA has come, and how lucky I am to work in an environment where I’m allowed to experiment in these spaces and help integrate them into the Association. I live in a really special place right now, both professionally and personally, and I don’t take that for granted.
And Jenny linked to Peter Bromberg’s post about Twitter etiquette. Peter is one of my favorite bloggers. I appreciate his take:
- Twittering the real-time decisions of your committee: GOOD
- Twittering snide, insulting, remarks about your fellow committee members while they speak: NOT GOOD
- Twittering snide, insulting remarks about your fellow committee members while they speak and marking it with #ala09 hash tag to ensure that the widest possible audience sees your comment: REALLY VERY NOT GOOD
We actually talked about this in class last night. With folks so connected and the opportunity to contribute to back channel chatter so easy these days, we should remind ourselves of the this simple rule: Play Nice. I’ve been disappointed of late seeing some of the snarky chatter and lack of respect for speakers and conference attendees at some events. Folks pay money for conferences and should have a civil, engaging experience free of in-jokes and snark. Constructive criticism is good if it contributes. As Peter points out, snark is NOT GOOD.
So..this rambling post leads to these points for all:
- Use Twitter and other tools in your library or organization in ways that makes sense and serve the mission/vision of what you are doing: to save time, to smooth a process, to communicate, to respond.
- Don’t dismiss the power of conversations happening OUTSIDE your space. They are probably just as important if not more.
- Play nice via the social tools. Respect people’s viewpoints and engage with them. Snark is cheap. Snark is easy. Put yourself in the shoes of someone just discovering the Biblio-social-network-sphere or attending a conference for the first time on hard-earned money. What experience should they take away?
Peter Bromberg wirites:
But I also think that librarians, at times, can be too knee-jerk about privacy issues, and I wonder if while looking at one end of the Facebook dustup (big corporation trampling on privacy rights) we might be missing some important lessons on the other end (big corporation letting customers control their own information in exchange for a highly engaging experience. And Facebook DOES give customers a tremendous, leading edge, amount of control. See: “10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know.)
We all know that people (myself, and probably you included) will share personal information in exchange for a quality experience. We share personal renting and buying habits in exchange for Netflix and Amazon recommendations. We share personal reading habits on GoodReads and LibraryThing to connect with others who share our interests and tastes. We share our credit card numbers with many online vendors in exchange for the convenience of “one-click” ordering.
We know all this, and we personally experience the benefits, but librarians still seem generally loathe to let our customers share their personal information in exchange for anything. We don’t just protect customer privacy, we paternalistically protect it from the customers themselves, rendering them childlike. Our privacy philosophy often reduces down to, “We know better”, or “You can’t be trusted with that–you’ll hurt yourself.”
Well said, Peter! I am really counting on some of the emerging systems like Bibliocommons, the SOPAC and more to help us come to terms with users making connections within our spaces.
Take a look at the pre-print articles he has in the queue:
I’m enjoying his original voice and insights – especially about the use of social tools by libraries. Take a look at the pre-prints. These pieces will surely be often-cited as soon as they are published.
1. You Chose the Wrong Channels
2. You Used the Wrong People
3. Your Content Sucked
4. Your Team Didn’t Believe in the Project
5. You Didn’t Execute
6. No one Trusted You
7. You Forgot about Search
Great insights for library folk who might be working at marketing their libraries in new channels. Really speaks to buy in, putting the right people on the job and trust. Check it out.
(Corrected link! Thanks Raylynn)