Cheers & Jeers

By Michael Casey & Michael Stephens

We’ve been writing the Transparent Library for two years, so it’s time for some more thumbs up and thumbs down.

Jeers to the five board members at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, KS, for voting yes to restrict four books about sex. This does not help library users-who shouldn’t have to face barriers in seeking such books-or public perception of their community.

Cheers to the director and librarians at the Topeka library for fighting the good fight to maintain a well-balanced, useful, and inclusive collection for all.

Cheers to the library in Fox River Grove, IL, for its outreach to teens and the FRGMLTABLOL (Fox River Grove Memorial Library Teen Advisory Board LOL). They’re creating lifelong library users by encouraging use, exploration, and participation.

Cheers to all of the libraries and other organizations that have offered a Learning 2.0 program to staff and users. Last we heard, over 1000 organizations have offered a version of the free program created for self-directed exploration of social tools.

Jeers to the librarian mind-set that in troubled economic times, learning, curiosity, and play must take a back seat. Now is the perfect time to find ways to extend services with free open tools.

Cheers to libraries like Roselle Public Library, IL, and Lafayette Public Library, CO, for creating user-centered communities for their patrons with Ning, a free DIY social network site.

Cheers to the American Library Association (ALA) for embracing Twitter and promoting the use of hash tags like #ALAMW09 that conveyed streams of Midwinter Meeting information to folks all over the world. And cheers, too, for launching ALA Connect, a virtual online space.

Jeers to the organizations that still don’t understand that controlling the conversation-call it public relations, marketing, etc.-has passed out of your hands. Brands are created by users and conversations about your brand happen all over. Find them. Chime in. Respond.

Cheers to the New Jersey State Library for creating to gather stories from users about how their libraries transformed their lives. Such true stories of how libraries change people impress funders.

Cheers to the folks using emerging tools to enhance conferences and learning opportunities, such as Skyping speaker, UStreaming a trends session, or tagging tweets, posts, pictures, and more with a common moniker.

Jeers, however, to some who criticize in the conference back channel. We’ve been disappointed with snarky chatter and lack of respect for speakers and conference attendees at some events.

Cheers to the gaming initiatives happening in libraries worldwide. Half-jeers, however, to the folks at the Nebraska Library Commission who could have contextualized that notorious YouTube video-and jeers to the Nebraska State Auditor who should have known better than to go after a legitimate library initiative.

Jeers to the libraries that still have signage restricting the use of cell phones inside the building when it’s all about simple common courtesy.

Jeers to the library that restricts computers to “library research only.” Guess what? Games, chat, instant messaging, Facebook, etc., might be part of the 21st-century student’s curriculum-we know they’re in LIS curricula.

Cheers to the academic libraries that asked students about their lives and needs and how the library could fit into their workflows. Rather than having “the students fit our rules and regulations,” the University of Queensland in Australia opened the doors to food and drinks in covered cups.

Cheers to marketing guru Seth Godin and his book Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us (Portfolio)-a touchstone for us this year. We agree with Godin that the market will reward organizations and individuals who choose to lead while those stuck within archaic rules and outdated practice-or guided by fear-will not flourish.

Which will you be?


ALA Midwinter Twitter


Learning 2.0

Michael Casey is Information Technology Division Director, Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, CA, and co-author of Library 2.0.

April 15, 2009 Library Journal