Social Software at CIL

So, Meredith Farkas started off her talk by telling the audience that I bite!! Yep, that’s right – I’m a biter :) I’m just kidding, Meredith (and me later today) was in the worst room for presenting. There are 2 pillars in the middle of the room that make it nearly impossible to see the screen. If you’re short and can see the screen you can’t see the bottom half unless you’re in the front row – I’m not a fan of this set-up so far.

But, back to Meredith. She presented on “Social Software: Building Collaboration, Communication & Community Online” – yep that’s the title of her book (which I’m ready to get signed!).

So what are the characteristics of Social Software according to Meredith?

  • Easy content creation and sharing
  • Online collaboration
  • Conversations have changed! They’re distributed (blogs) and they’re in real time (IM)
  • Capitalizing on the Wisdom of Crowds. Del.icio.us is a great example of this – we can see what others have found interesting. Wikis – conference wikis in particular are a great way to collect knowledge from many sources
  • Transparency! If you’re a terrible professor (as Lee showed us) then everyone will know. On the flip side, you can make a human connection this way.
  • Personalization – it’s everywhere and RSS helps you facilitate it
  • Portability – everyone is using at least one portable device these days – once again RSS lets them take content with them

What can Social Software do for libraries?

Number one – it will help us disseminate information. We can use blogs for library news, research tips, new books, new librarian articles, things in the area news – so many options! Wikis can be used as subject guides. Dowling College Library is doing amazing things with podcasts. Next, we can get feedback from our patrons – like I wrote earlier, no one wants to bother with the comment box at your circ desk – but they’ll comment online. It also makes the patrons feel like a part of the library – like they’re making a difference.

It allows us to capitalize on the collective intelligence of colleagues and patrons! There is so much we can learn from the people who come into our libraries – why not give them a chance to contribute? Also, why not use a reference wiki and share with those around you – what are you afraid of??

What strategies can we use to implement these changes?

First – avoid technolust! Don’t make changes just cause they’re cool – do your homework – very similar to what David was saying. Think about whether patrons will use it – and I’d like to add that even if you think they won’t and it’s free and easy to set up – DO IT!! Why not give it a whirl, maybe you don’t know everything about your users.

Next, involve staff at all levels of planning – they also want to be involved. Help them play with the technologies and see what they’re about.

A great presentation overall – you can see the entire thing online – I love it when speakers get their info up nice and early!

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