Librarian by Day Bobbi Newman | I'm not that kind of librarian

One Man’s Treasure…

01.24.2008 · Posted in Chit Chat, Digital Services

Meredith Farkas’ recent post about Library 2.0 got me thinking about me; my title, my position, my duties and my goals. The position of Digital Services Librarian is just 6 months old (and I think the title itself has changed 3 times already). My duties and goals are always in flux which means, for me at least, my position is 2.0. As in not static, changing, evolving, and developing to meet the needs of my users – library staff and patrons. Six months seems like a good time to reflect and, if needed, re-access. A lot has happened, I attended my first Internet Librarian conference, kicked off Library Learning 2.1, helped introduce gaming to the library, created our Facebook page, presented at a conference, just to name a few and the hits just keep on coming. When I look back I think I’ve learned two very important things, I tried to narrow it down to just one, but the two are intertwined, so we’ll call them 1.1 and 1.2 :)

1.1 If you build it they will come. (to paraphrase Shoeless Joe)

Or maybe not.

One of the best aspects of working for a small library system is that it is fairly easy to implement a new plan, whether it is a Flickr account for the Library, or Library Learning 2.1 for the staff.

One of the worst aspects of working for a small library system is that there just aren’t that many people to get excited about your ideas.

For example, if your patrons aren’t big Flickr users they might enjoy seeing their pictures on the website, but they might not following the bread crumbs to your Flickr account. Our ventures into this area are fairly new, so I don’t know how well they will be received or what types of interaction we’ll get from our patrons. I do know, even if it is minimal, that’s ok. (We’re already getting some so I can’t say non existent.)

Any time you’re venturing into new territory you have to be willing to fail. We accept that when we develop a new book club it might not take off the way we want or if we add a subscription to the local newspaper on line, patrons might still prefer the micro film. So why not take this approach with our 2.0 ventures?

The library already takes pictures of our events and before we had Flickr they were stored on a server where, no one but the few who knew how to get there, could see them. Now with an extra 30 minutes a week, the staff and patrons can quickly and easily access the pictures from a computer with internet access.

1.2 One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

I see a lot of exciting new ideas being implemented all the time. It’s hard not to want to try all of those things at my library right now. But the truth is, what works for one library may not work for us. It might not be what our patrons and staff need or want. So I try to look at all the ideas in relation to how they’ll help our library. Additionally rather than dismissing an idea completely because it wont work, I try to look at the parts of it to see if any of them can be used or tweaked and used.

For example Learning 2.0. We were one of the early adapters of this program (Library Learning 2.0). We did some slight tweaking but over all kept the format the same as the original. That didn’t work for our library, staff felt like they lessons were too time consuming, too much information was coming too fast and they wanted some face to face time to ask questions. So part way through the program we changed it, we gave people more time and we offered face to face classes.

When it came time to start planning 2.1, I made a point of talking with staff about what they wanted from the lessons. I talked with staff who didn’t participate the first time about why they didn’t and what I could do differently this time to get them to. What could I do to make them excited about it? What rewards would they like? I also talked with staff who did complete the first one, asking if they were interested in a second program, what changes they would like to see. The results is a program that works for this library.

I’ve learned a lot of other things but they all go back to these two things – What I’m implementing needs to be relevant for my library and Not everything I bring to the table will or must succeed. Mostly importantly neither of these lessons could have been been learned without the support of my director who believes in both of them (and me), or the willingness of the staff at the library to tell it like it is. I’m a grateful for both. Did that last bit sound like an acceptance speech? It did, didn’t it? Cue the music and get me off the stage :)

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