If it’s on Your website – is it your opinion?

Close_The_Libraries_And_Buy_Everyone_An_Amazon_Kindle_Unlimited_SubscriptionIn my last post, I purposefully title it “Forbes Wants to Close Libraries.” Why?

Well – I was critiquing an article on Forbes website.

The article is written by a “contributor.” Apparently, you can fill out a form (and probably do a lot more stuff) to be able to post as a contributor at Forbes.

And guess what? Forbes wants you to write for them, but doesn’t want to necessarily be associated with the content that contributors write.

Under the contributor’s names and photos is a tiny statement that says: “Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.”

Well yeah. It’s an opinion piece, after all.

Here’s my problem with that idea:

  1. It’s on Forbes website. Look at the image in this post – Even though Forbes wants to make sure you know that it’s not THEIR opinion that’s being expressed … it sure does look like it’s coming from Forbes to me!
  2. When the opinion piece gets cited … it will be cited as coming from Forbes.

Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck …

I know – magazines and newspapers have always had opinion pieces, letters to the editor, and love using that “opinions expressed are not held by the organization” statement.

I’m just not sure it works all that well in an online setting. Either own the content on your site (like Techcrunch, Mashable, etc do) or don’t post it.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Developing an Online First Mentality, Part Five: More Reading on Online First

I’ve come to the end of my thoughts (for now) on developing an online first mentality for your library. Here’s a handy list of the whole series of articles:

Developing an Online First Mentality:

To finish up, here’s some further reading on the idea of creating an online first mentality. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Developing an Online First Mentality, Part Four: Where does your community hang out?

Finishing up with this series. In this post, let’s talk about something simple that relates to adapting an online first mentality.

Where are your customers?

Guess what? For most of the day, they are not in your library building.

Darn! So where are they? At school, at home, at work, in their cars, exercising, eating, etc. But NOT hanging out with you, at the library.

And that’s ok and normal, obviously.

But here’s the thing. You have access to your customers … even when they aren’t in your building.

In fact, it’s quite possible you have BETTER access to them when they aren’t in your building. Here’s what I mean – how many of you distribute your library staff throughout the public area of the library, like a store, to help people at the point of need? Not too many of us. For most of our customers, it’s very easy to visit the library, browse for a book, check it out, and leave without ever having to interact with library staff.

But online, your customers are within reach:

So … if the majority of your customers are online instead of in your library … where should you be? What’s that look like in terms of staffing? In terms of events and classes and programs? In terms of your collection and reference tools?

Definitely something to think about!

Photo by David Goehring

When your Library Building Closes, your Library doesn’t Close

Library Closed signSo my library is closed today. We’re closed from May 1-5 to do a couple of tiny little projects, like:

  • RFID tag almost 500,000 items
  • Install 11 new self-check machines throughout the building
  • retrofit our automated material handler for RFID tags
  • Install new RFID security gates
  • Remove a bunch of DVDs and CDs from lockboxes (and get rid of the lockboxes)
  • Oh, and put in some new carpet too, while we’re at it!

To get all this done, we’re using our staff (because they are awesome), and we needed to “close the library.” But here’s the deal: our building is (mostly) closed, but the library? Not so much. Here’s what I mean:

  • First off, the whole building isn’t closed. You can still use some of our meeting rooms, visit the art gallery, the cafe, or our bookstore.
  • Telephone and chat reference is still open.
  • The digital branch is open – our website, our library catalog, our social media channels are still running.
  • Databases? They’re still available.
  • Ebooks? Yep – still available.
  • Bookmobiles? Still running.
  • Our outreach vehicles? Still going strong.
  • WIFI in the building? Still available.
  • Computers at local community centers (run by the library) are still available.
  • Holds? Still available on bookmobiles and through our book locker in one of the community centers.
  • … and probably some other stuff that I missed.

This actually made signage difficult for us! Some of our signs around the building say “library closed.” And some of them say “library closed, but …” You can see more of our signs here.

So – is the library closed because we closed a building? Nope. Today’s library is much larger than the building.

 

Social Capital in Action

Consider the social capital of networksAwhile back, Joyce Valenza, an assistant professor at Rutgers University (she blogs here and tweets here), asked me and a bunch of others to contribute content on the importance for a librarian to develop “social capital.” Joyce defined “social capital” this way:

How, through your blogs, reviews, tweets, webinars, have you developed friendships with authors and experts and other librarians that you’ve been able to leverage in less-than intangible ways? How has sharing a lot changed your position in your community, or, perhaps, led to speaking gigs and requests to publish? How do you digitally mentor and in what ways do you experience a return on those kind investments? How do you serve as a network bridge? How do you build and nurture ties weak and strong? How has the digital building of social capital benefited you either personally and professionally? (from Joyce’s email to me).

Here’s how Wikipedia defines Social Capital:

… social capital is the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups. Although different social sciences emphasize different aspects of social capital, they tend to share the core idea “that social networks have value”.

Interesting concept, huh?

Here’s what I sent back to Joyce as my response:

Check out this video of mine on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wj0B2RzuyZE – it’s not actually the video that’s important, but the comments. One in particular that happened recently. Melissa Saubers left a comment, inviting me (and my coworking/makerspace group in Topeka) to a conference in the Kansas City area (a cool-sounding co-working conference. Wish I could go!). She’s a coworking space owner in the KC area.

There are a couple of important social capital concepts here:

  • The invite, and that particular conference, is potentially really valuable to Topeka. We are creating a combined coworking/makerspace organization, and the library is playing a part in the developmental stages (along with 4-5 other non-profits/colleges in the area).
  • I’ve never met Melissa. I’d guess she ran across my video on KC-area makerspaces, is possibly helping to organize the KC event, and sent the invite via a comment because she thought it might be helpful to us.
  • The invite would have never happened if I didn’t already have social capital. I’m online, I’m already creating a variety of content and participating in professional-focused conversations. Because of that, and because I made a video with “social wings,” I received valuable info that can help my whole community.

My point? You can’t ignore social media. You can’t “have an account” but not use it much, or just be your “weekend self” and expect to make business connections. But if you actively participate on a variety of social media channels, and include at least a mix of business and personal, then … you just might be able to help your career, your library, and possibly even your community.

Image by Howard Lake