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.