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Putting a FACE on the Library
 

Putting a FACE on the Library

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Establishing rapport with students through social connection as a way to keep academic libraries central to campus life

Establishing rapport with students through social connection as a way to keep academic libraries central to campus life

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    Putting a FACE on the Library Putting a FACE on the Library Presentation Transcript

    • When I started thinking about the idea of keeping academic libraries at the center of campus life, I got a clear vision of a whole campus full Putting a FACE on the library of students away from home for the first time, searching the library catalog from their dorm rooms because they donʼt know their way around yet, and they feel uncomfortable going into the library, and theyʼd rather chat with their friends on the internet. And I thought, just get these kids to know the librarians from the safety of their dorm rooms, and then they'll get to know how useful the library is, and the library will become a cool place for them to be. establishing rapport with students through social connection 1 This is how the library looks to the students who have tons of friends How students see the but donʼt really step outside their comfort zones - intimidating. library Going to the library for information means stepping into an unknown place where they share no common ground with the people there. (Trinity College Library, Dublin) Beautiful! Candida Höfer ...and a bit intimidating. 2 Thursday, November 6, 2008
    • Contrast that scary library with the record store, where everyoneʼs How students should comfortable. see the library At the record store, everyoneʼs into music, so there's a common ground. You know what to talk about because youʼve read about your favorite bands on MySpace. You can hold your own with the people at the record shop and feel More like a comfortable enough to ask for help finding something specific. record store! Justin McManus ...less like a museum. 3 When you donʼt feel comfortable going to the library, this is how you keep the library central to your life. Online research by yourself on the sofa, which is fine, but doesn't always produce the best results. But my sofa’s comfy! 4 Thursday, November 6, 2008
    • As a distance learning student, I use my universityʼs library website for almost all of the information I need, because thatʼs what I have access to. Even students who live on campus may prefer using the online catalog and databases because itʼs comfortable. Itʼs how • Even local students may avoid the theyʼre used to finding information. library because it’s more comfortable Itʼs no longer realistic for librarians to expect students to come into the online library automatically to do research. Now information is available • No longer realistic for librarians to online even inside the library, so when students ask for help, itʼs most likely because there's a problem - they canʼt figure out how to use the expect an instant relationship with databases, or their searches arenʼt returning the right results, or they students canʼt find a book thatʼs supposed to be on the shelf. So the initial relationship that develops between the student and the librarian is one of frustration. 5 What we need is for students to look forward to going to the library because itʼs a comfortable, positive place and the librarians are dynamic and interesting. Students can develop online relationships with the librarians based on their personalities and mutual interests, then going to the library becomes something they want to do, not have to do. Get thee to the library! 6 Thursday, November 6, 2008
    • First-year students and those who have been out of academia for a while especially benefit from coming into the library. Spending a few minutes with a real person helps to avoid the frustration of struggling through research alone, and provides a human interface. • Online database research doesn’t replace the comfort and knowledge of I know I learned so much more from Florida Tech's research workshop librarians than I did by fumbling through database resarch people on my own for four years, so there's a real benefit to getting to know • First-year and non-traditional students the librarians. But some people need to feel invited. need a welcome The idea is to welcome students with a bond of human experience • Get students off their sofas and into the that will get students off of their sofas and into the library. library 7 So how do we create a human presence online, where the students are? What to do? 8 Thursday, November 6, 2008
    • This pretty much comes down to being everywhere the students are, which is Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and I'm sure lots of places I don't know about. • Be available where students are... Introduce the librarians - it's important to provide access to the online! catalog and databases, and information about library services and programs, but it's also important to show students who the librarians • Introduce the librarians on the library are and what they're about, because they provide the human interface website and in social networking sites to the library that might be fading as libraries become more high-tech. • Provide RSS feeds to librarians’ blogs Advertise the librariansʼ blogs on the website, and advertise the cool on the library’s website things librarians are doing in the library on the blogs. • Advertise on-site and virtual programs in the librarians’ blogs 9 What makes students comfortable in the library isnʼt just the cushy chairs and free internet access, itʼs the feeling of belonging - a rapport with the people who work there. So focus on the humans in the library as much as the physical environment. Focus on humans 10 Thursday, November 6, 2008
    • Librarians are interesting people. What students might not know is that most librarians have secret caches of knowledge that make them pretty interesting to talk to. • Librarians are more interesting than Librarians can carry on some heated discussions about current most students know at a glance issues, like copyright law, the free culture movement, censorship, environmental issues, cameras in classrooms... lots of things that • Librarians have useful perspectives on students are also interested in. So when students become involved in current issues online discussions, or respond to blog postings with librarians, they develop a shared experience. • Librarians can share academic or personal experience Communicating with students in a comfortable environment goes a long way toward making the library feel like a human place. • Librarians are as helpful and easy to talk to as the folks on the record shop floor 11 These days itʼs becoming the norm to be connected to people and remain at a distance. Look at how popular online dating is. Think about how many people tell you each day, quot;I found an old high school friend on Facebook and we've been emailing each other every day now.quot; connection at a distance 12 Thursday, November 6, 2008
    • Librarians can capitalize on the safe environment people find in social networking, and join in. Create a presence online and become a part of students' lives. • Capitalize on the safety of social Then, once students know that librarians are out there, that they're networking cool people with interesting perspectives and they can add value to their experiences, invite them into the library with an extension of that • Establish rapport with students in safe, online presence. virtual environments • Invite students to the library after virtual introduction to librarians 13 So librarians can essentially bring their lives to the internet, and bring the relationships that come from sharing their experiences, back to the library. Bring life to work 14 Thursday, November 6, 2008
    • If a librarian has an interest in local history, for example, why not blog about it? Why not start a virtual reading group, and discuss books in an online forum? If a librarian is crafty, why not have a crafts blog that encourages people to create some craft and blog about it, then also • Blogs emphasize librarians’ experience have a monthly craft workshop in the library? If an information and offer human connection advocate is having a study hall for a particular courseʼs exam, why not post invitations and reminders on Twitter? If a librarian blogs • Virtual reading groups offer connection about gaming, why not also have a game night in the library? Or an at a distance and safe intro to library afternoon concert of student musicians? Or a student art exhibit? • Gaming, movies, music, art make the Librariansʼ blogs are nothing new. But what Iʼm suggesting is that the library a personal place library make it their policy to encourage librarians to blog about what interests them, and to develop programs around what interests them, • Being part of a library community adds and get students connected to the library - and the librarians - through value for librarians and students shared personal experience. 15 rose@lacking.org Thanks for listening! http://www.lacking.org/rp I’m Rose Petralia. Find me all over the web... rose@lacking.org http://www.librarything.com/home/rpetralia http://www.librarything.com/home/rpetralia http://www.linkedin.com/in/rosaliepetralia http://www.linkedin.com/in/rosaliepetralia http://librose.vox.com http://www.lacking.org/rp Photos licensed from iStockphoto.com, except where noted. http://librose.vox.com 16 Thursday, November 6, 2008