From Information to Intelligence: Using the Social Web to Transform Communities

Stephen Abram and Social Web and LibrariesMonday, 1:00 – 2:30

We know that libraries make a difference. A big difference. Can we challenge ourselves to move to the next plateau quickly? Can we do that in an era of restricted budgets and financial pressures? What strategies will work? What technologies show the most promise? Are our communities ready for this? Stephen Abram, VP Innovation at Sirsi Dynix, shows us some of the innovations that are working in libraryland and some opportunities for us to transform our communities.


Slides available [pdf] at Stephen’s Lighthouse

Start with Is Social Media a Fad? video

Do you pay attention to the ads you see? In this day, information (and ads) find you – Google ads change depend on what you’re searching for, Facebook ads change depend on what you ad/upload, geotagging can customize a message for different parts of the country.

DVDs make up a large percentage of our circs – what is our plan in 5 years when DVDs are outdated? YouTube? Hulu?

Does anyone have 100 million books in the library? Google books does (will). How do we compete?

The critical advantage of libraries is librarians. But our websites have no photos of staff, no videos, no bios – we don’t tell people why to use us – instead we hide. Professionals should not be anonymous (do you want to know your doctor’s name?). How can we use social media to push our critical competitive advantage?

What are libraries really for?

  • Economic impact: libraries are the only social service people use by choice (no one wants the police, or fire, or medical personal to show up at their door)
  • Equity: diminishing the digital and generational divides by integrating population growth and supporting the process of learning, not just facts
  • Student performance: schools with libraries have 25% increase in test scores – add 5% more for schools with close ties to the public library
  • Seek competitive advantage: we’re falling behind Canada, EC, India China, etc. We now know genes influence learning styles, so schools (and libraries) need to respond and cater
  • Social glue and democracy: the top two things people value in libraries are 1) community and 2) learning – we need to support these interactions

Need to combat the idea that Google can do everything – this is shallow thinking (eg: most laws are online – do you still need a lawyer?) Do you want a heart surgeon who has watch a how-to video on YouTube? Also, Search Engine Optimization can cause false information to rise to the surface (Where was Obama born?).

People trust the opinion of their peers, so social web tools that allow interaction (LibraryThing, Chili Fresh, Sopac, etc) are valuable.

People are online: Facebook, Twitter, etc. They choose to Friend who they want, not be pushed to. But if you’re not there, you’re not part of their life. This is especially when we lose kids – they come to the library when learning to read, then move away when they become social.

Computer technology can be a love/hate relationship, but it’s the direction of the 21st century (printing and publishing dates to the 16th century). Social media permits different learning styles – not just one-way, but has feedback, and lets you treat students like students and adults like adults (if they’re looking for information on divorce, they’re probably looking for different things).

Two stickiest things for websites: news and weather. Put them on your website! This is the IKEA method – put everything in one place, and let the patrons put it together. We filter resources for context and relevance to save the time of the patrons. Get their feedback (using Surveymonkey polls, et. al.) to build community by building relationships.

Most people use cell phone – if you don’t pay attention to them, you will miss them. That’s why Iowa polls for 2008 election were wrong – they only polled land line home phones, but most voters were young first-time voters, who have cell phones and not land lines.

Libraries exist at the intersection of community need and social trends. This is especially true for broadband – libraries often have best internet access in small communities, but Google is soon to offer broadband on old analog TV signals.

More videos for Social Media Trends

Program idea: instead of having an “internet safety” class (which only parents would come to), have a “pimp my myspace” page – kids will attend, and you can teach them internet safety in a context that matters ro them.

Google is designed to meet the needs of its customers – that is not you. If you use Google for free, you’re not a Google customer – everything Google does is catered to help their advertisers.

Is this a “journal world” or an “article world” – what good are bound periodicals:

What problem do you serve for your patrons? Patrons don’t want to search, they want to find. Context is King, not content.

The future is complex – where do libraries fit in?
Social Graph Platform Wars

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2 Responses

  1. Fantastic lecture and great job blogging.
    Thank you.
    Makes it easy to give my staff and trustees a taste (and anyone else who will listen.)

  2. […] Dec, 2010 0 Comments Social Graph Platform Wars Image by herzogbr From Stephen Abram’s NELA09 talk current distribution Tickets Travel Site Announces 18th and 2011 Social Commerce, Industry Trends […]

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