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David Lee King

Why “Getting it” Matters



OK… I’m a card-carrying member of the American Library Association, and it’s voting time again. Every year, we vote for a president (and a lot of other stuff). This year, there are two candidates for ALA President – Kent Oliver and Roberta Stevens. Both fine, highly qualified people, I’m sure (though I’ve never met either one).

As a web-centric, social media loving geekboy, here’s what I noticed when I visited their websites:

Roberta Stevens:

  • Cool. She has a website.
  • Dated design … looks like a fine site from the year 1999
  • big fat Donate button (actually the first thing I noticed)
  • where’s the RSS feed … hey, wait a minute … why isn’t this a blog-based site with commenting?
  • a mish-mash of text links that point to videos, photos, podcasts, webpages, and pdf files
  • a link to a Facebook Fan page
  • Ah – there’s her blog – one of the many text links points to it.
  • Oops – I clicked through to her blog. She has embedded a YouTube video there …  but it broke her blog template.

Kent Oliver:

  • Cool. He has a website too. A nicely designed site, looks a bit like Obama’s recent campaign site
  • it’s a blog – the RSS feed is right there, where it should be (subscribed)
  • two quick links to platform and qualifications
  • a Donate Now button that blends in with the rest of the site
  • an embedded video (used blip.tv – coolness)
  • Flickr images, embedded on the main page so I can see them…
  • a search box!
  • no one’s commented on his blog posts yet (currently displaying big 0′s beside each post)
  • Oops – just clicked on Platform. Instead of getting his actual platform, I got two more links… same with the Qualifications link.

Honestly, once I get past all that stuff and take a peek at their actual platforms, it’s all the usual stuff (diversity, more money, support privacy, etc) – nothing that stands out as remarkably interesting to me, a lover of all things web (which is a reflection of ME, not them :-) ).

But – looking at the two lists above … who do you think “gets it?” Who either understands new online media, or at least knows who to ask for help? Will that sway my vote (and the votes of many others)? Probably so.

Yes, understanding “the new stuff” is definitely important, and can make or break a campaign.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.libology.com/blog/ Rick Mason

    The reason Kent Oliver’s site looks like Obama’s is that he is using the Probama theme: http://www.category4.com/2008/03/11/probama-theme-for-wordpress-released/
    It is a good design; certainly beats running the WordPress default theme, in my book.

  • http://www.libology.com/blog/ Rick Mason

    The reason Kent Oliver’s site looks like Obama’s is that he is using the Probama theme: http://www.category4.com/2008/03/11/probama-theme-for-wordpress-released/
    It is a good design; certainly beats running the WordPress default theme, in my book.

  • http://aaron.thelibrarian.org/ Aaron the Librarian

    Okay, but is it all about the style points with a gloss of some substance – or is it mostly about substance with a gloss of style?

    As you say, they’re both “fine, highly qualified people” but I got a sense that one is for jumping in and getting going & one is for stopping and looking to see where we are.

    It’s good to have a solid web team, but the implications behind what one says is more important than the glamour of the venue in which one says it (imho)

  • http://aaron.thelibrarian.org Aaron the Librarian

    Okay, but is it all about the style points with a gloss of some substance – or is it mostly about substance with a gloss of style?

    As you say, they’re both “fine, highly qualified people” but I got a sense that one is for jumping in and getting going & one is for stopping and looking to see where we are.

    It’s good to have a solid web team, but the implications behind what one says is more important than the glamour of the venue in which one says it (imho)

  • davidleeking

    Aaron – fully agree with you – substance should always be more important … just pointing out that at first glance, substance or no, one is more attractive to online types than the other BECAUSE of the web team. And I find that interesting!

  • davidleeking

    Aaron – fully agree with you – substance should always be more important … just pointing out that at first glance, substance or no, one is more attractive to online types than the other BECAUSE of the web team. And I find that interesting!

  • http://librarygarden.blogspot.com/ Peter Bromberg

    Hi David,

    Interesting. I didn’t think either sites were particularly wonderful, but regardless I’m not inclined to draw too many conclusions about how much they “get it” based simply on their websites. Secondly, whether or not they “get it” is only one small part of the equation that determines whether these candidates will be good ALA Presidents.

    One of my chief concerns is how they will do as the voice of ALA — as the voice of Librarians, as far as the media is concerned — during their tenure. Our ALA President has a TON of media contact. On any given day they might be giving multiple interviews to print, radio and TV. I’ve seen both of these candidates present in person and only one of them, IMHO, will do a great job representing libraries and librarianship. One of the candidates demonstrated to me that they understand the importance of tailoring comments appropriately to an audience. One didn’t. One spoke with passion and emotion, and w/o use of notes. One didn’t. One candidate will get my vote; and it might not be the person who has the nicer blog. The other candidate will get my respect, thanks, and best wishes.

    I hope all ALA members think deeply about what we need in an ALA President, seek out as much information as they can on each candidate, including video content, and then choose accordingly.

  • http://librarygarden.blogspot.com Peter Bromberg

    Hi David,

    Interesting. I didn’t think either sites were particularly wonderful, but regardless I’m not inclined to draw too many conclusions about how much they “get it” based simply on their websites. Secondly, whether or not they “get it” is only one small part of the equation that determines whether these candidates will be good ALA Presidents.

    One of my chief concerns is how they will do as the voice of ALA — as the voice of Librarians, as far as the media is concerned — during their tenure. Our ALA President has a TON of media contact. On any given day they might be giving multiple interviews to print, radio and TV. I’ve seen both of these candidates present in person and only one of them, IMHO, will do a great job representing libraries and librarianship. One of the candidates demonstrated to me that they understand the importance of tailoring comments appropriately to an audience. One didn’t. One spoke with passion and emotion, and w/o use of notes. One didn’t. One candidate will get my vote; and it might not be the person who has the nicer blog. The other candidate will get my respect, thanks, and best wishes.

    I hope all ALA members think deeply about what we need in an ALA President, seek out as much information as they can on each candidate, including video content, and then choose accordingly.

  • http://www.thomasmemoriallibrary.org/ Rachel Davis

    I don’t think ALA itself gets it. I was less than overwhelmed with the launch of their new “atyourlibrary” site (http://www.atyourlibrary.org/ ), designed to promote libraries directly to the public. For one thing, the search button for locating a library near you doesn’t work (it works if you hit Enter, but the button itself is not enabled.) There seems to be a mishmash of random information included under each topic, and I’m not sure why anyone would find this site to be more of a resource than that of their own library, or how anyone would come to this site in order to find their local library. Am I off the mark here?

  • http://www.thomasmemoriallibrary.org Rachel Davis

    I don’t think ALA itself gets it. I was less than overwhelmed with the launch of their new “atyourlibrary” site (http://www.atyourlibrary.org/ ), designed to promote libraries directly to the public. For one thing, the search button for locating a library near you doesn’t work (it works if you hit Enter, but the button itself is not enabled.) There seems to be a mishmash of random information included under each topic, and I’m not sure why anyone would find this site to be more of a resource than that of their own library, or how anyone would come to this site in order to find their local library. Am I off the mark here?

  • http://www.thomasmemoriallibrary.org/ Rachel Davis

    Oops–sorry not to have formatted the link correctly. Here it is:

  • http://www.thomasmemoriallibrary.org Rachel Davis

    Oops–sorry not to have formatted the link correctly. Here it is:

  • http://www.thomasmemoriallibrary.org/ Rachel Davis
  • http://www.thomasmemoriallibrary.org Rachel Davis
  • Tony

    Interestingly enough, both candidates made presentations to a local association a friend of mine belongs to. She told me it was clear Stevens had taken the 5 minutes to learn what the association was “about” and what its issues were, while Ott delivered a totally generic canned speech that didn’t connect to them at all.

  • Tony

    Interestingly enough, both candidates made presentations to a local association a friend of mine belongs to. She told me it was clear Stevens had taken the 5 minutes to learn what the association was “about” and what its issues were, while Ott delivered a totally generic canned speech that didn’t connect to them at all.

  • http://www.ala.org/alonline/ Leonard Kniffel

    The new @ your library website (http://www.atyourlibrary.org/ ) is designed to promote libraries directly to the general public, to get nonusers into the library and to make better users of folks who are unaware of all that libraries offer. The search button for locating a library near you has been fixed. This is a pilot project funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York, and we have plans for growing and refinining the site and marketing it to the public. Meanwhile we welcome suggestions for how to make it more engaging.

  • http://www.ala.org/alonline/ Leonard Kniffel

    The new @ your library website (http://www.atyourlibrary.org/ ) is designed to promote libraries directly to the general public, to get nonusers into the library and to make better users of folks who are unaware of all that libraries offer. The search button for locating a library near you has been fixed. This is a pilot project funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York, and we have plans for growing and refinining the site and marketing it to the public. Meanwhile we welcome suggestions for how to make it more engaging.

  • Carl

    I’m not a librarian so I can’t judge either candidate’s qualifications, but as a web geek, my first criteria for someone who “gets it” is that the home page can’t say “WELCOME!” This was okay in 1996 when few people used the Web, but we’ve all been here for years. Engaging in such reciprocal back-patting makes it seem like you still think of websites as something that people may stumble across, not something people use and need as part of their daily professional and personal lives.

    By the way, thanks for the blog. I happen to work with a number of librarians, so it’s nice to have a look at how web technologies influence them.

  • Carl

    I’m not a librarian so I can’t judge either candidate’s qualifications, but as a web geek, my first criteria for someone who “gets it” is that the home page can’t say “WELCOME!” This was okay in 1996 when few people used the Web, but we’ve all been here for years. Engaging in such reciprocal back-patting makes it seem like you still think of websites as something that people may stumble across, not something people use and need as part of their daily professional and personal lives.

    By the way, thanks for the blog. I happen to work with a number of librarians, so it’s nice to have a look at how web technologies influence them.