State Library Associations Using Social Tools

I got my monthly newsletter from the Indiana Library Federation yesterday. It includes a three piece article on how the organization is looking at restructuring. Results of a survey of Indiana librarians, facillitated meetings and a revised Mission statement are included.

Here’s part of the Vision:

Membership. We are an organization of all eligible individuals and groups passionately committed to the power of libraries and librarians to improve the quality of life in Indiana communities.
Collaboration/Partnerships. We effectively collaborate with all individuals and organizations to support and promote Indana libraries.
Technology. We use the latest appropriate technologies to accomplish the ILF mission and goals.
Professional Development. We provide and promote effective professional development for individuals and libraries.
Public Relations/Advocacy. We influence policy. Citizens use, support, and fully fund all Indiana libraries. Decision makers seek out librarians as information providers.
Services. We help local libraries improve their services to local residents.

Here’s my focus this morning: “We use the latest appropriate technologies to accomplish the ILF mission and goals.” Ding! What that says to me is ILF might want to get serious about some Social Tools to get members collaborating, communicating and keep them informed about what’s happenning in Indiana libraries.

For example:

Weblogs: ILF might consider a few Weblogs for the organization, divisions, conferences, districts and more. These could all feed into a central front page or clearinghouse page and all the HOT news would be easily discoverable and could be fed into RSS aggragators as well. The Indiana State Library has a blog, maybe the folks at ILF should try the same.

Wikis: Not only ILF but other state library associations might ponder creating a wiki to build community and allow members to exchange ideas. Pair a wiki with some blogs and you have a thriving forum for folks to post thoughts, comment back and create documents. The sections practically build themselves by using parts of the mission and vision stated above. Folks can discuss to the heart’s content. A lot of barriers fall away with these tools, I kid you not! Butler University Library’s wiki is here. My library’s wiki is here.

Flickr: How cool might it be (yes, a bit of technolust there, but it serves a purpose) if ILF had a Flickr account and published a set of tags to use. Imagine oif you will a Indiana libraries tag and other tags such as “academic,” “public,” and the like. I want to see the beautiful buildings we have in this state as well as the FACES of Indiana libraries.

IM: If you want to encourage discussion, information flow and more how about an IM name that any Indiana librarian can send a mesage to — it might be a bot that answers with pointers to the ILF Web site or it might be a real person that could answser questions about ILF programs, membership and more. Jybe might be here as well as a Skype name. The possibilities for this type of interaction are wonderful.

Here’s the kicker: all of these suggestions are FREE or cheap. These tools are out there, ready to be harnessed and used. We don’t need to invest loads of money in the development of a Web site when these tools, with a bit of know-how, can be utilized so easily.

Why Social Tools? Why state library associations? I think it’s a good fit. And it serves to educate all Indiana librarians about what they can do as well. This phrase: “We help local libraries improve their services to local residents” says that ILF might also teach folks that the social tools are all about user-centered focus.

I also think these ideas support the values ILF is aiming for:

Democratic Ideals. All members have a voice and diversity is respected.
Integrity. We speak the truth and honor our commitments.
Relationships. We support and encourage collegiality and collaborations.
Effective. We focus on actions that efficiently further our mission and vision.

Members can have a voice via commenting and wiki entries, the transperancy of said tools implies commitment and truth, collaboration is evident as well, and what could be better than harnessing easy tools that are free to further the organizations mission.

I’d like to see this happen because I think Indiana libraries are some of the best around!