Public libraries, online collaboration, and 23 things
and 23 Things
Internet splat map courtesy of jurvetson
Why do staff in public libraries
need to know about new
Because they’re an increasingly
huge part of the way we
Wheel of Friendship courtesy of jurvetson
- the 24/7 library
-An Amazon-like catalogue
-The ability to share the reading
- “Can you help me with my digital
camera / mp3 player / set up a
Facebook account, please?”
Communities in Control
and the Big Society.
For ways that Web 2.0 can help
with this, have a look at Us Now.
Budgets (or lack of them) make
collaboration more and more
See the Race Online website…
Public libraries are playing a big
role in helping the
9 million digitally disenfranchised
So we need to give library staff somewhere to learn. The 23 Things
programme introduces them to social networking (such as Facebook
and Flickr) and more esoteric stuff, like RSS feeds and cloud
It’s intended to give frontline staff enough confidence to be able to help
library users, and to inspire them to learn more. It’s also intended to
give them a heads-up as to what might be coming their way next. It’s
free, it’s fun, it’s interactive, and they can do it at their own speed.
During the course, sometimes they’ll set up their own accounts (for a
blog, for Facebook) and sometimes they’ll watch videos about stuff
(such as Google maps).
Image courtesy of Publisyst
Here’s Helene Blowers’ original version, 2006. She
wrote it for her own staff at the Public Library of
Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. You’ll note the
strong mix of materials – podcasts, videos, and lots
Portsmouth and Surrey library authorities got
together under the umbrella of the Society of Chief
Librarians and decided to create our own version…
Helene’s was good, but it was out of date, our areas
of focus were a little different, and we wanted to use
This map shows you
who evaluated the
course for us, when we
asked for help on the
Libraries and Web 2.0
11 public library
authorities, 15 FE and HE
bodies, and 2 health
• Aberdeen City
• Portsmouth City
• Suffolk Libraries
• Surrey Libraries
And West Berkshire and North Lincolnshire
library services will be joining us in rolling it out
to their frontline staff.
How can four library authorities, five hundred miles apart, work
We live in digital times. We use Doodle to organise meetings,
Webex for the meetings themselves, email for creating
documentation and the wiki for sharing it.
The wiki (created on Wetpaint) has been fabulous. It means that
five of us have been able to work on creating the same module at
the same time. We can control who has editing rights, and who
can contribute to discussions.
The only drawback is the adverts which pay for it, over which we
have no control… but Wetpaint seem to be getting more sensitive
The problematic bit
It’s worth mentioning that a lot of the stuff in the
course is blocked by our authorities. So we have
to tell our staff to use the public access terminals
in our libraries to learn about it.
We’re all local government employees, and we’re very conscious of the
possible problems of going outside our respective networks to work
But we’re also librarians. We understand about intellectual property
and data protection and Government Connect and the need to secure
and back up our data, and we’re very careful about using the wiki.
Photo courtesy of ubberdave
Collaborative working tools
and editing documents:
If I was starting over, I’d be
tempted to use Facebook…
Web 2.0: what are public libraries
Have a look at http://librariesandweb2.wetpaint.com/ and
look at Web 2 Examples.
We did an audit late in 2009 so it’s still a reasonably up to
date picture of who’s doing what.
It’s what you would expect – blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc.
There are some shining examples there – have a look at
Manchester library’s Facebook account.
• A national catalogue
• Benchmarking the quality of our services
• Guidelines for staff
• ‘Virtual libraries’ of hyperlinks and URLs
• “How to” guides for customers
• Further staff training – enquiry and customer
• Infiltrating book and reading forums
• Q&A forums
• Countering bad press
Here’s some areas where public libraries, within a wider network, are already
collaborating in creating and delivering online services. Web 2.0 can only
make this easier.
Here’s a couple of questions for
Local by Social attendees.
• Our project uses a public wiki. Our inner workings can be seen by
anybody, and we are at the mercy of Wetpaint if they ever decide to
close down or do something unpleasant to our content. Is it
legitimate for library authorities to work outside local authority IT
networks? Does the end justify the means? How should we
mitigate the risks?
• Modern library online catalogues incorporate social networking
functionality, where people can make friends with other library
members and talk about books. Is it better to offer quality services
at low risk within our own virtual offer and expect users to come to
us, or to offer lower-quality, higher-risk services in the virtual places
where people gather, such as Facebook??
Virtual Content Manager
Surrey Library Service