Traditional reference service is dead--- or dying. This blog will focus on new approaches toward providing library assistance to patrons... or whatever else I feel like rambling on about.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Perhaps my last comments ever on Facebook

I’m sick—which only happens about once a year, but I wanted to quickly post a comment on this article that will be hitting your mailbox soon: Do You Facebook?

My stance toward online social networks has changed. In the Summer and Fall semesters of 2005 I was really into using MySpace and Facebook, but I have backed off since then. Or rather, I am very opposed to setting up a “Your Library” account and interacting with students in that fashion, although I do like what they’re doing at
UT. I use FB almost daily. One thing I have found particularly successful is joining classes that I know involve research and hawking my services. I also look up students before I meet with them one-on-one or as a class. And I also follow campus news and frequently dash off messages to ‘noteworthy’ students— my humble attempt at a grassroots approach toward promoting the library.

I’m starting to look at the big picture though. These social sites are going to change—there is already backlash toward both MS & FB. Students will move on to something else—so rather than librarians investing time and aggressively trying to develop a presence in these particular environments, it’s probably more valuable to join them, using them, learn about them, and seek creative ways to interact with students, but PLEASE don’t attend a conference and brag about how your library set up a Friendster account last week, seriously! If you’re going to get into the social software game, just be prepared for the new systems that roll out every other month. That’s what makes them fun!

My point is: yes, join facebook, but be yourself! There are other staff and faculty members on there too. However if you’re really looking to make an impact, drop your QuestionPoint, LSSI/Tutor, LiveHelp or whatever lame virtual reference service you’re using and just setup AIM with an aggregator like Trillian. Then plaster your sn every where possible, yes this means also outside the library!

I’ve had students send me an email question—I’ll look them up on FB, grab their aim, see they’re online and respond with my answer. We’ll chat a little bit—clear up anything and end both feeling satisfied. However I’m sure the good folks at UM would view this type of outreach as
intrusive (comment #4) and crossing the line of good and proper librarian etiquette.

Oh yeah, and PLEASE don’t schedule hours of when chat is offered—we can help you from 2:00 – 6:00 when it is convenient for us. If you have someone at a public services desk then you should have IM covered.

Ok, TheraFlu time…

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fun with Library Catalogs!

There is a lot of thoughtful analysis regarding library catalogs: Cornell, UC, and the ACRL Blog.

All I have to offer are these two video clips:

Why don’t patrons use the library catalog?

Library Catalog Anomalies

Fun stuff!