CIL2010: Organization 2.0
Meredith Farkas presented about problems libraries have with implementing 2.0-style projects due to cultural or other issues.
What is the problem with implementing social software at the library? A lot of libraries go into spaces where our users are because we want to be there with them, but we don’t do it well and we embarrass ourselves. Many people treat technology like it’s free like beer but it is really free like kittens…they take maintenance, ongoing effort, and staff time. If you have one person alone who is managing technology for the library, then you’re in a bad space. If that person gets hit by a bus then no one else can take it over and the library is in big trouble. Just doing the hot new thing for the sake of it is not helpful and does not serve our users best. It’s not like some of our job duties get taken away — we’re just expected to do more with the same amount of time and money. There is also the problem of a new technology being hot and sexy, but once you have to actually maintain them they lose their sexiness. Meredith noted the large quantity of 2.0 graveyards – blogs that haven’t been updated since 2005.
Why does social software fail? The use of social software is not seen as furthering the library’s mission. It’s treated as someone’s pet project. It’s not planned for strategically like other technologies. Once the newness wears off, people are less motivated to contribute. Staff are not given time to work on social software.
Library 2.0 is a state of mind. We need to work to meet changing user needs. We need to trust our users. We need to get rid of the culture of perfect. We need to be aware of emerging technologies and opportunities. We need to look beyond our library niche world for applications, opportunities, and inspiration.
Tips for Building Organization 2.0: Know your users. Treat technologies as tools. What do your users need? What does your staff need? The need should come before the tool. She gave the example of setting up RSS feeds by subject for different departments’ materials in the catalog. Put links to our collections in Wikipedia on pages that reference your unique information and collections. Add your original photos and other images to Flickr. The development of library services should be an iterative process, a perpetual beta. Be agile and don’t get attached to the current version of any given project. Be brutal and cut what you have to cut. Realize that great ideas can come from anyone anywhere. Nurture talent in the organization by encouraging suggestions and innovation and recognizing the achievements of the staff…no matter their position.. Time is a big issue too – we need to give staff time for creative endeavors. Encourage network building. Meredith treats Facebook like her electronic rolodex. Query the hive for information, feedback, and participation. Be transparent – have a library suggestion blog and let users, staff, and others make suggestions and comment freely, openly, and transparently. Have a relevant staff person answer the question (not a marketing person!). Finally, devote time to all of this. You might need to create new positions at your library. You might need an emerging technologies librarian.
cil2010, computers in libraries