Library Camp Ann Arbor, 2008

I spent yesterday afternoon at the Ann Arbor District Library, attending Library Camp. I joined the group discussing how to sell Web 2.0 to our colleagues, administrators, and patrons. Overall, I was pretty proud of how the group managed not to devolve into a whine fest about how hard it is to get libraries and librarians to experiment with new technologies, though there were a few requisite moans and groans. A lot of folks in the room had already had some successes introducing 2.0 technologies, and they shared their strategies, which tended to fall into one of two camps:

  1. Build first, explain later: People found that it was very hard to sell anyone on a 2.0 experiment when all they could do was try and describe it. “Well, Twitter is like microblogging… Well microblogging is like blogging, but smaller… Well, blogging is like when people post about different stuff, like news and stuff, and it shows up chronologically on the webpage…” etc. If they actually created a few Flickr sets, or set up a blog, it was much easier to demonstrate the utility of such a thing, and they were able to generate buy-in from the administration and the users.
  2. Talk about the ends, not the means: In trying to explain Web 2.0 technologies to upper level administration, Dave Carter of the University of Michigan focused on their ability to help us better connect with our users, rather than on the details of how they work or what they are. By explaining the end goal – building a relationship with users, encouraging interaction, and improving services – he was able to sell the principle of 2.0 without getting bogged down by the minutiae of various sites and and technologies. U of M ended up offering a whole summer series on Library 2.0, and blogs, wikis, and Facebook have been adopted by librarians all over campus.

After the breakout sessions we had a show and tell, where several people got up and demonstrated a cool new thing they’re doing in their library. They included

We also saw a library book blog, but apparently I didn’t write down the URL or the name. I was especially impressed by all the different embedded media options from DALNET (that’s Detroit Area Library Network, I think). They’re doing stuff like embedding movie previews from YouTube in the catalog, so that if a patron is looking at a record for Spiderman 2, she could actually watch the preview right there on the page. And they’re doing it all with MARC! Very cool.

It was nice to meet librarians from all over the Midwest, and also to be reminded of some of the stuff I’ve been meaning to experiment with but just haven’t gotten around to. When I learned that there was no Wikipedia entry for the AADL, I went home and created one, my first ever new Wikipedia article (it’s still a stub – go edit it!). I also decided to take my Twittering to the next level, to see if I can finally understand what the fuss is about. If you’re interested, follow me at http://twitter.com/mollyali.

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