Social Networking Literacy For Librarians

friendfeedToday, I attended a METRO Science Librarian Special Interest Group lecture hosted by Joe Murphy, a science librarian at Yale University. The subject was Social Network Literacy for Librarians, and there were about 20 (or more) librarians there from public, non-profit and academic libraries.

Joe Murphy is an exceedingly smart young guy, and he’s on the cutting edge. He’s a social media proponent to the nth degree, and he says rather controversial things in a matter-of-fact kind of way. He says things that perhaps we’re too afraid to say, like “Print is dead,” and (as a librarian, no less) “There is no time during my day that I ever come in contact with a book.” He suggested that librarians carry around smart phones and get rid of desk-top computers. He mentioned that he got repremanded at work for fiddling around with his iPhone during meetings, but he was just taking notes. He doesn’t use pen and paper.

The last bit about using his iPhone in meetings is an interesting illustration of how some of the lecture went down – there was resistance to what Murphy had to say. A couple of people brought up the digital divide and said that they’d have trouble implementing social networking, and making assumptions about users’ technological savvy. One mentioned that “undergrads don’t use Twitter.”

Some salient issues that were brought up during this two-hour event that evolved into more of a discussion than a lecture:

  • Librarians need to become early adopters and lead in information technology. The time for meeting users where they are is over.
  • If librarians do not adopt social networking skills, libraries will become less and less relevant–Murphy says that in many ways, they already are irrelevant.
  • Murphy loves the character restrictions of Twitter and expects all of his information to reach him in short, blurb-like bursts. Is this what information-glutted users are also expecting?
  • @val_forrestal, who was in the audience and has given her own Twitter in Libraries lectures, said that Twitter is a great way to show that librarians can use their special skills to be information filterers in this era of information overload. This is a wonderful strength to have these days, and librarians can use this skill in new and innovative ways with social media.  

Important links:

Murphy’s ACRL Paper, on which this lecture was based.

Etherpad notes from today’s meeting

A summary of today’s meeting

Follow Joe Murphy on Twitter: @libraryfuture


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