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David Lee King

Seth Godin’s Good Advice



I recently read Is It Too Late to Catch Up? at Seth Godin’s blog. The post is great – it includes ideas on how to “catch up” if you haven’t really done much in the web & social media world for the last 14 years.

But the one point that interested me the most was this: “Refuse to cede the work to consultants. You don’t outsource your drill press or your bookkeeping or your product design. If you’re going to catch up, you must (all of you) get good at this, and you only accomplish that by doing it.”

His point? You don’t outsource your main stuff.

Now think about the web for a sec. I can name more than one library that hasn’t done a whole lot with their website, but has “woken up,” so to speak, and wants to create a strong, dynamic web presence. For that matter, I know of more than one library association that has done the same thing.

I think Seth’s point, and I’d agree pretty strongly with it, is this – you need to create your web presence yourself. Especially if you want that web presence to reflect your library’s values, be truly dynamic on an ongoing basis, and be one of your major service points.

“But David, we can’t do that – here’s why:”

  • “We don’t have any money” – most of the tools and services on the web are free, and training (especially if self-led) can be, too. It’s a start, anyway.
  • “We have a web dude, but he/she isn’t up to snuff” – train them (or re-hire).
  • “No one in our library knows much about building websites/interacting on the web” – set up a learning program.
  • “Our library director/administrators don’t understand the importance of the website” – Talk to other library directors that DO get it, and ask them how to convince your administrators. Also, show your own leaders strategy and goals – not shiny cool tools.
  • “Our IT staff won’t let us do this stuff” – who’s in charge again? Do some strategic planning for the library, then make sure your managers enact it.
  • “Our city/county attorney won’t let us” – lots of other city/county/university/etc libraries ARE doing this, so call them up and figure out a convincing strategy that will fly with your attorney.

Thoughts?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://monsterscifishow.wordpress.com/ Montgomery Lopez

    This last point, “Our city/county attorney won’t let us” – lots of other city/county/university/etc libraries ARE doing this, so call them up and figure out a convincing strategy that will fly with your attorney; speaks to my situation here in Miami. While there is a Facebook page, the content is neither exclusive nor engaging. The only people on our page are the employees themselves. As I pointed out to the admin, we are treating Facebook like our library’s website.
    Pasco County Library http://pascolibraries.org/ is a great site that gets it. I met two teen librarians in library class in Tampa recently and they discussed how they got to this advanced point online and their advice was to take small steps. I keep trying my best to influence those higher ups but there are times I feel alone in this cause.

  • http://monsterscifishow.wordpress.com/ Montgomery Lopez

    This last point, “Our city/county attorney won’t let us” – lots of other city/county/university/etc libraries ARE doing this, so call them up and figure out a convincing strategy that will fly with your attorney; speaks to my situation here in Miami. While there is a Facebook page, the content is neither exclusive nor engaging. The only people on our page are the employees themselves. As I pointed out to the admin, we are treating Facebook like our library’s website.
    Pasco County Library http://pascolibraries.org/ is a great site that gets it. I met two teen librarians in library class in Tampa recently and they discussed how they got to this advanced point online and their advice was to take small steps. I keep trying my best to influence those higher ups but there are times I feel alone in this cause.

  • Gary Atwood

    I agree with the idea that people need to take care of their main stuff themselves, but I think that we need to stop for a moment and put ourselves in the shoes of these folks. It’s more than a little intimidating to jump into the middle of any new web or social media project if you have little to no experience. Should you start a MySpace page? No, that’s supposedly on the way out. You should do a Facebook page instead. Should I create a Facebook group or a fan page? Wait a minute, what’s this Twitter thing I keep hearing about? How does that fit in with out web site? And so on and so on.

    Anything to do with the web will always be in a state of transition, of course, and I’m not suggesting that people should use this an an excuse not to act. I am saying, however, that it can be hard for folks with little time/money/experience to make this shift into the web/social media. The answer, as we know, is to pick one thing and work on that instead of jumping into everything, but knowing that and doing it are two different things.

  • Gary Atwood

    I agree with the idea that people need to take care of their main stuff themselves, but I think that we need to stop for a moment and put ourselves in the shoes of these folks. It’s more than a little intimidating to jump into the middle of any new web or social media project if you have little to no experience. Should you start a MySpace page? No, that’s supposedly on the way out. You should do a Facebook page instead. Should I create a Facebook group or a fan page? Wait a minute, what’s this Twitter thing I keep hearing about? How does that fit in with out web site? And so on and so on.

    Anything to do with the web will always be in a state of transition, of course, and I’m not suggesting that people should use this an an excuse not to act. I am saying, however, that it can be hard for folks with little time/money/experience to make this shift into the web/social media. The answer, as we know, is to pick one thing and work on that instead of jumping into everything, but knowing that and doing it are two different things.

  • michael

    I’ve seen many a promising library website ruined by librarians who think they can do design and content for the web.

    To do a professional job you need professional people. That doesn’t mean you can’t hire them in-house though.

  • michael

    I’ve seen many a promising library website ruined by librarians who think they can do design and content for the web.

    To do a professional job you need professional people. That doesn’t mean you can’t hire them in-house though.

  • http://tametheweb.com/ttw-contributors/ Mick Jacobsen

    Good post David. That article grabbed me as well.

    I run a Drupal group for libraries and many of the librarians/IT people are understandably overwhelmed. They want to hire somebody to do the work – but little do they realize that they are then married to them, and they fall farther and farther behind libraries that allow/encourage their people to learn. I advocate trying it themselves and the ones that do generally end up happier and involved in the community.

    Also once you learn a content management system or some other social technology you can teach others and help organizations outside of your own. Your staff becomes the resource. Is the end goal the professional website or an awesome staff? I think you can have both.

  • http://tametheweb.com/ttw-contributors/ Mick Jacobsen

    Good post David. That article grabbed me as well.

    I run a Drupal group for libraries and many of the librarians/IT people are understandably overwhelmed. They want to hire somebody to do the work – but little do they realize that they are then married to them, and they fall farther and farther behind libraries that allow/encourage their people to learn. I advocate trying it themselves and the ones that do generally end up happier and involved in the community.

    Also once you learn a content management system or some other social technology you can teach others and help organizations outside of your own. Your staff becomes the resource. Is the end goal the professional website or an awesome staff? I think you can have both.

  • http://digitaldunes.blogspot.com/ Tim Lepczyk

    Thanks for the post. I think the key points are don't let your IT people hold you hostage, and invest in training. Training interested people in web development, and scripting/programming languages will pay dividends over the years.