Join the Conversation–Promoting Library 2.0 Tools on Public Library Webpages May 30, 2009Posted by swegene1 in Final Project, Library 2.0.
The purpose of Library 2.0 is to create an interactive library experience, where users are empowered to engage in discussions with the information provided, with each other, and with the librarians. Unfortunately, most library websites have forgotten to invite their patrons into this conversation, hoping that when their users stumble upon them they will be inspired to join. But lacking any idea of what they are joining or why they would want to join, some libraries have created spaces for conversations that aren’t taking place.
I struggled to develop an instructional tool for this section, because what Library 2.0 tools need to succeed is inherent in the tool and the way it is used. Rather then another outside tool, librarians need to consistently update and use those tools they integrate into their website. They need not just to have Library 2.0 tools, but use them to create conversations for people to join.
One example for this is a Twitter stream. Twitter is a great tool in a lot of ways, not only does it allow a library to spread messages about upcoming events, but it also is a space where they can engage in conversations with their users. Many libraries have Twitter streams, but few use them as invitations to a library conversation. For instance, the Columbus Metropolitan Library has over a thousand followers, but doesn’t follow ANYONE. They don’t want a conversation.
Thus in order to get library users to engage in conversations, libraries need to do more then provide the tools, they need to ask and answer questions where their users can see and engage. For instance, a conversation could be on a Twitter stream where users can ask and receive answers to questions about upcoming events where everyone can see and participate. There are a number of ways this twitter stream can be displayed, from the simple widget I use on the sidebar of this blog, to more advanced code that can be embedded within a web-page. Twitter fans have created a wiki that lists many different ways that users can integrate twitter into their lives and other pages.
Because my Twitter stream is not affiliated with a library, and I do not represent myself as a library spokesperson on it, I frequently engage in various casual conversations. However, a library spokes-account on twitter could engage in conversations on a more professional level. They can “Re-Tweet” or RT comments about the library, other events and services in the community, and links to reviews of new books. While Twitter streams, such as the one I display on my blog, do not contain other people’s comments, they would display the user’s answers to questions. If used properly, a twitter stream could get the conversation going between libraries and their patrons.