Tag Archives: METRO

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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Reasons to Be Cheerful, Part…

Library Journal has an article about being optimistic when the job market is so tight. The article explains that libraries can use crises as learning opportunities, that libraries are more indispensable than ever during rough times, and that the best way to survive is to actually add services even though it may add stress to an already stressed-out staff.

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The last half of the article provides advice on how to be more marketable for graduating library students. But this advice is useful for everyone, even currently employed librarians. I’ll add my comments in italics:

  • Make Issues Opportunities. Look at any of the issues impacting libraries right now, for example, the economy, new converged devices, and digital streaming and downloads. Then look at what innovative thinkers have done regarding such issues. Learn to be such change agents. Think about what you can do at your job to cut costs and make permanent changes that will benefit the organization in the long term. Think digitization, collection development budget shifts, streamlining and efficiency.
  • Never Stop Learning. By graduation, our students should have learned, through successes and stumbles, how to address a problem and find solutions via evidence and their own thinking. When one student expressed her excitement at mastering Facebook, I commented, “Now you can take on anything.” The master’s degree is just that, not an end point for librarians’ learning. Think about auditing classes at your alma mater, joining an organization like ALA or SLA and taking advantage of webinars, annual conferences, workshops and networking. Subscribe to magazines to learn about the latest technologies and trends. Join METRO and take classes. 
  • Be Curious. Marketing guru Seth Godin suggests, “To be curious means to explore first.” New grads should emphasize this trait and even add it to their résumés, saying something like, “I’m curious about how libraries and librarians can help change the world, one library user at a time.” I can’t really add anything to this. Great advice.
  • Focus on the Heart. No matter where they find work, new grads should remember they’re human-focused. Consultant and blogger Karen Schneider reminds us that “the User is the Sun.” If we help people achieve the best they can—satisfying information needs, providing entertainment, enabling social connections—we’re reaching the heart. And, as any service-oriented organization knows, good customer service NEVER goes out of style. This is something that people always appreciate, no matter what the economic climate may be. This is a great way to ensure longevity!