What’s app at your library?

Libraries need to accept that mobile is here (and there) and NOW! This week’s lecture was reminiscent of Dr. Sandra Hirsh’s introductory keynote at Library 2.013: The Global Transformation of Libraries, LIS Education, and LIS professionals. In both we get the clear sense that our mobile society is moving forward and wants our libraries to come along. I would even argue that it would be preferred that libraries lead the charge into the next wave of information accessibility.

It is funny, in the tragic sense of the word, that we saw so many examples in our UX kindness audits of libraries failing to recognize the benefits of cell phones as information devices. With so many great examples of how we curate our experiences, libraries (as well as practically every organization) can benefit from having a connected clientele. For mobile users such as myself, we, sometimes a little too harshly, judge locations on their social media presence. Not just what the place in question itself has tweeted, posted, rated, etc., but by what others have tweeted, posted, rated, etc. Can you imagine someone wanting to visit your library and finding out that no one has checked in there? No one has Yelped it? No one has Tweeted about their visit? No one has Instagrammed a photo (Lo-Fi, X-Pro II, or otherwise)? When I worked in the retail coffee industry, it was common practice to “pad the stats”. Even if it wasn’t giving 5 star reviews, simply adding a check-in or a photo built exposure. Libraries need to be aware… let me change that, I’ve noticed I’ve been using the term “libraries” as if to put all the responsibility on the institutions rather than the individuals… LIBRARIANS need to be aware of what is or isn’t being appearing in their social media portfolio. Mobile devices need to be leveraged to build a better public awareness, and in turn, we need to provide users with the mobile content they want.

This weekend the Los Angeles Public Library held an App-A-Thon contest to create an app for their Summer reading program. THEY GET IT! I really don’t see it being very long before Reader Advisory becomes App Advisory. Librarians better be ready for that change and not caught up in the Techno-hesitation.

An aside:

After years of having an inactive Twitter account, I finally decided to get one and be (somewhat) active. https://twitter.com/YursRevenge

Before I even thought about libraries (and librarians) having an active mobile/social presence, I noticed the local library only had 33 followers on Twitter (the City Librarian was 2 of those followers, and I was number 33), so I wanted to see how long it would take me to get more followers (without soliciting). The answer 91 hours. Less than 4 full days. A couple lessons about Twitter that I’ve learned from this:

  1. it’s a lot about who you decide to follow. For me, most of my followers came from the fact that I followed @SLISConnect, @sjsuslis, @ALASC, @ALALibrary, @CalLibAssoc, and @SLASCC. The local library only follows 2 library-related users: @ALALibrary and @lompoclibrary (the neighboring library in the system)
  2. Don’t tweet to people who don’t need your tweets. It would be my guess that those few technical savvy people following the library are probably the ones who get a majority of their content remotely (and thus might likely choose to NOT visit the library). Tweeting invitations to them (and the library employees) about in-house events, is likely not going to bring them into the library. Which leads to
  3. Tweet interesting things. I’m still learning how to do this, and am probably on the losing end of it. However, I do understand that, especially as a librarian, you should be tweeting about things that show you are in touch with important things going on in the world. RTing great articles about information science, world events, from your peers, or from your favorite authors goes a long way in gaining a following. Simply tweeting an events calendar is, well, as boring as cornflakes.



7 thoughts on “What’s app at your library?

  1. I definitely judge places based on their social media presence; or at least on their presence online. I remember reading an article earlier this semester that talked about how digital natives view the world, and if a restaurant, library, store, etc. does not have a presence online it doesn’t really exist to them. This is so true! I’ve had this experience tons of times where I hear about a place, look it up online to find its hours, can’t find anything (or find an old outdated website) and decide it’s probably not worth my time. I think popular culture already portrays libraries as archaic places, if we don’t become active online we will just be perpetuating this stereotype and pushing younger crowds away.

  2. @robynbookworm I think you’re totally right. I think we always just assume someone is using a smart phone, and that it’s so easy to just check in or give a rating that if a place doesn’t have check ins or ratings then it must not have been worth the time. So frequently (especially now that I’m out of big city living) I’m finding places don’t even have their own website (or worse, have one that requires Flash). By no means am I a digital native (maybe a digital snob?), but these places quickly earn the “dead-to-me” rating.

  3. Nice post James. Do you think that a majority of librarians are still dragging their feet when it comes to having a digital presence? I would agree that the new generation of us will need to embrace these practices in order to reach out and make our services better known and understood. I have to admit that as much as I am engaged with the digital world, I do not have a smart phone yet and conduct just as much business offline as I do online. Word of mouth still works for me in some situations as well as just being adventurous and not always researching my way around things. I leave the heavy lifting to my wife who researches everywhere we go! So yes, bring me on board, but let me unhinge my feet just a bit so they aren’t dragging so much.


  4. I like your foreshadowing and reference to the techno-hesitation. It is true that when organizations appear to hesitate and slow down in the face of new technology, rather than embrace it, that is serves to harm the image of the pauser.

  5. @bookbender David, I wouldn’t even say it’s a majority that are “dragging their feet”. It only takes a few to shoot down progressive ideas to make it look like a larger percentage of librarians aren’t on board. Sometimes even those that are on board, for whatever reason–budgets, space limitations, etc.–have to shoot down ideas (for example @Michael nixing the green screen idea a decade ago). I think it all goes back to Casey and Savastinuk: we need to revisit our mission statements and make sure they are forward-thinking enough to allow for, or better yet, REQUIRE constant change and evolution.

  6. Those are some great suggestions for using Twitter.

    I am glad to read about LAPL and the app contest. I hope more libraries follow this model. I totally get the “dead to me” mindset and have closed out of many poorly made, stuck in the 90s sites. Thanks for invoking our text authors as well – it’s nice to be reminded this far along in our semester why we are focusing on these concepts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s