After I finished my Web 2.0: Connecting with the Community Using Social Software course with Meredith Farkas, I eagerly shared all that I had learned with the directors within our system. I thought they’d be excited about the prospects. I thought they’d want me to set up training sessions for their staff. At the very least, I thought they’d question me as to why I see Web 2.0 as the future for libraries. Instead, I got nothing. To say I was disappointed is putting it mildly.
So I decided to go directly to the staff. Well, I got one bite. I showed this fearless librarian the wonderful world of Flickr and I introduced her to LibraryThing, then I showed her MySpace. Everything excited her except for MySpace. Her argument against MySpace stemmed from an article about gangs using MySpace to intimidate rivals. She also cited instances of kids being lured away from home by predators via MySpace, Facebook, et al. I think MySpace and other social networking sites have received a bad rap. Using that logic, should we close the doors to the library because a potential murderer may walk through the door?
I don’t think so. I think our responsibility is to provide access to information. And there is no denying the importance of sites like MySpace to our patrons. Library directors and staff would do well to read Steve Campion’s article. We need to do more than serve the patrons who walk through our doors, we need to let the community know that we offer more than just books. We have to grow and market ourselves so that we don’t become irrelevant. We need to get over our fear of socializing.