bisson & blyberg on the state of social libraries

I haven’t been treated to two thoughtful, synchronous posts like this in a long while. They don’t say the exact same thing but they’re complementary and there’s some overlap. Gobs worth thinking about.

Is Facebook Really The Point? by Casey Bisson

It is essential that we build social features into our libraries. Comments, easy linkability (short, sensical URLs), and findability in search engines are must haves in our systems. But that isn’t enough. We also need outstanding librarians to breath life into them.

Library 2.0 Debased by John Blyberg

Of course, that means we have to have a working framework to begin with that compliments and adheres to our tradition of solid, proven librarianship. In other words, when we use technology, it should be transparent, intuitive, and a natural extension of the patron experience. If it can’t be transparent, then it should be so overwhelmingly beneficial to the user that it is canonized not by the techies, but the users themselves.

One thing I’d like to highlight is that both posts seem to be begging libraries to provide authentic online social experiences for patrons. I don’t think John’s idea of offering technology that is a “natural extension of the patron experience” can occur without the use of technology being a natural extension of Casey’s “outstanding librarian.” The outstanding librarian can’t just understand the importance of the read/write web on a theoretical level. The outstanding librarian must be a participant.

“This stuff can’t be faked” is another way to state this. Faking it, like dabbling with a social networking site (“simply thrusting a MySpace page in their face”), doesn’t recognize the deep and disruptive nature of social technology that John mentions in the beginning of his piece. He doesn’t explicitly mention this disruptive nature again, but make the implication when he raises the issue of “thorough recalibration of process, policy, physical spaces, staffing…”

Like a wise man once said, “Let’s get serious!

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