I was fortunate enough to attend the keynote presentation of the Trendy Topics online conference, Social Media & Libraries: Twitter, Facebook, & More. Meredith Farkas, widely known as a social media expert when it comes to libraries, was the keynote speaker. Her address, Organization 2.0: Avoiding the Social Software Graveyard, was informative and touched on the many ways libraries can essentially fail at successfully implementing social software. She also discussed the characteristics of effective 2.0 projects and how libraries and other organizations can build more capacity for Web 2.0 initiatives and services. What follows is a review of the points Meredith touched on and her perspective.
From Implementation to the Grave
Meredith started out by listing off how many libraries have failed at implementing social software and made their way to the proverbial graveyard.
- Jumping on the bandwagon: When one library is successful, another library takes notice of their success, and the other library decides to attempt to duplicate the first library’s efforts. The second library usually fails, since they do not take into account the uniqueness of the first library with regard to patron usage and the library’s capabilities, which are specific to that library.
- Assuming every library is the same: This is related to libraries jumping on the bandwagon. If libraries are not all the same, then why to other libraries try to duplicate what the first library has accomplished? Libraries need to take into account why certain technologies and techniques have worked at other libraries before copying them.
- Techno-lust: Librarians getting wrapped up in the excitement of the technology. When this happens, usually the focus and the point of implementing the technology is lost and therefore not effectively implemented.
- Assuming “being there” is enough: Libraries create a Facebook fan page for their library and do nothing else.
- Thinking free means ‘no cost’: Social software in libraries is not free, it is only free in that libraries do not have to pay to use the social platforms. However, the librarian monitoring the software still needs to be paid and that librarian still has to find time in their work day to accomplish all their other work as well. Meredith used the euphemism, “free as in kittens,” they still need maintenance, the librarian still needs to create content.
- The Lone Ranger: That person who acts alone to create the social software content. This person will eventually get too busy to keep up. This is a good example of why there should never be one person running these types of services.
- Assuming more than 40 hours of work can be fit into a 40 hour work week: Adding more work to a librarians work load means either they have to work faster or they need to give up some responsibilities or tasks.
- Assuming all you need is enthusiasm: Once the newness of implementing the new social software technology has worn off, the enthusiasm diminishes and it becomes another task to complete.
Effective 2.0 Projects
Meredith next discussed what she felt were the characteristics of effective 2.0 projects.
- Know your users. What will work for your unique library patron?
- Have clearly defined goals. The social software is more likely to succeed if it is included in the organizational goals.
- Involve staff from all levels in the planning process. Having people with fresh eyes and fresh perspectives can help add to the success of the social software.
- Planning for the continued use and maintenance of the technology. This includes creating content.
- Using tools that actually solve problems. One example was using Facebook as a portal to the library’s services, where patrons that could find the library’s Facebook page could gain access to the library’s services through that page.
Growing Web 2.0
Meredith Farkas additionally discussed how organizations can build more Web 2.0 capacity.
- Question everything. Use jargon that patrons will understand.
- Look for good ideas everywhere. Ask the staff what can be done differently. Look for insights from employees.
- Encourage staff to learn and play with Web 2.0 technologies.
- Develop a risk tolerant culture.
- Be agile, do not become attached to technologies and processes. This will help with creating new services and using new technologies.
- Give the staff time to be creative.
- Encourage network building. Social media ‘friends’ are a virtual rolodex.
The keynote speaker also has made the slides to her presentation available on her Web site. Her blog can be found at: meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress.
I felt that the keynote speaker gave a good presentation. It was thoughtful and full of useful information. Also, her presentation seemed to be a perfect summary of the ideas behind implementing and using Web 2.0 technologies in libraries. She made good points that compliment the content of this class well. Many of the core concepts learned in this class are present in the points Meredith made in her presentation. Hopefully, the content and information presented and consumed in this class coupled with more presentations regarding Web 2.0 technologies will transcend this semester and be integrated into the thoughts and ideas of mine and my classmates’ library and information skills toolbox.
Please share your thoughts below.