Enough with the “SHHHH!” already.

On my final day at SLA 2013, a group of us (@Zem, I believe you were at this table) were eating our free lunch at the Info-expo waiting for all the giveaways. An observation was made that we librarians are a rather crazy bunch (while some of us are the introverts that the public may perceive us as, we are quite a vocal bunch). At that moment I came up with the idea that we should brand a new logo for our libraries: buttons, bags, t-shirts with the word “SHHHH!” with the traditional red circle/slash through it, indicating it is no longer accepted. I think this is direction we, for the most part, are going in (as the lecture exposed, there are still some holding on to outdated beliefs).

cla2013This is the banner for the 2013 CLA conference in Long Beach. We can see this theme of being heard as the foundational message of this year’s conference. The fact that singer/actor/spoken word artist/columnist Henry Rollins is the keynote speaker at this event is clear evidence that we are moving away from the idea of libraries as the quiet, austere environments. Matthews (2010) post gives us an example of the unquieting of our libraries. It is now a place where we actively engage our communities, not only through the providing of information, but in listening to their needs, and providing interesting content and programming that will draw users to our libraries.

One of the keywords that sticks out when discussing Library 2.0, and how we interact with our communities is transparency. We see it in Stephens (2011) as a means for honest communication and feedback. However, I want to explore what that means a little further in regards to our social media presence. From personal experience, social media (Facebook, blogs, Instagram, etc.) allow us a perceived layer of protection from the outside world. While embracing this may appear to be contradictory to the idea of being social, in fact it seems like many of us are allowed to be more ourselves when communicating through social media. I think our library users are actually getting a clearer, more transparent, and more honest idea of who we are as people when interacting with us via these means. The more we are allowed to be ourselves, the more trust we can gain, and the more open our communications will be with our communities. Anything leading to more participation has to be a good thing.

Mathews, B. (2010, June 21). The unquiet library has high-schoolers geeked [Web log post]. American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/unquiet-library-has-high-schoolers-geeked.

Stephens, M. (2011, February). The hyperlinked library [White paper]. Tame The Web (TTW). Retrieved from http://mooc.hyperlib.sjsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/StephensHyperlinkedLibrary2011.pdf.


One thought on “Enough with the “SHHHH!” already.

  1. I wish I was attending CLA – it looks like a great program this year.

    You make some good observations of the power of transparency. Engaging with users in an open format can be beneficials. I appreciate your use of the word honest – I’ve long advocated for library staff to share themselves and their interests as a way to make connections.

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