I get asked a lot of things via email from librarians, but very few actually make it to this blog. This question was so interesting and probably better answered by the “hive” than just by little old me. I am also curious how others would respond.
I was wondering if you had any advice or links to websites or professional literature that deal with this issue. That issue is: how do libraries deal with the roles and responsibilities of 2.0 technology? Some of it crosses borders and/or job descriptions. Who is in charge or responsible for tweets on twitter, the library marketing director, the reference librarian, the library director, etc. I suspect this is something that we will just have to work out as an organization. I’m just wondering if anyone else has any wisdom they might share in this regard.
My take on this is that there probably isn’t much professional literature on this topic because how the roles and responsibilities are assigned depend very much on organizational size, organizational structure, and who is really interested in doing it. At a library with a very small staff (like the Luria Library at Santa Barbara City College) it may be an interested director who takes responsibility for these 2.0 initiatives. At libraries where the lines between tech and public service are very clearly delineated, it may be the tech folks who are in charge of the Twitter account, whereas, at a library (like mine) where tech librarians do reference shifts and public service librarians are well-trained in library technologies (and every line is extremely blurred), it may be a joint responsibility or the responsibility of the public services librarians. In some libraries (perhaps most?), people have taken this on because they’re simply the ones most into marketing and/or web 2.0 tools. In bigger libraries where there is a marketing director or an outreach librarian or a digital branch manager, that person may be in charge of these initiatives.
But I’m curious, what are your thoughts on this? Especially with regards to 2.0 tools that are created in an effort to reach out to patrons, who should be responsible? What makes the most sense? Should it be the person who has the most contact with the public? The most tech-savvy person? The person with the most authority (the Director)? This is one of those questions that has myriad answers, so I wanted to open it up to see how other libraries handle it (or how you think libraries should handle it).
At our library the tech dept didn’t seem interested in the lofi technologies like twitter/blogs (they wanted to work on large digital projects) so they never took initiative. The public services librarians have been the web 2.0 instigators. The instruction library and I started facebook and twitter for student outreach because we have the most direct contact with students. Unfortunately a lot of these tools are associated with us rather than with our positions, which may be a problem for the library if we leave.
I personally prefer using web 2.0 for specific library services (ie, data blog for data services, gov info blog for govdocs) rather than a general library outreach. The subject focused blogs allow for much more interesting and instruction geared posts as opposed to general outreach blogs. But that is related to the size of our library too. In the case of subject/service specific blogs it would make sense for the person in charge of the service to have control over their web 2.0 initiatives rather than have someone else in control. But should this be written into the job description to ensure carry over? I’m not really sure.
That’s the way it has been handled at UNCG. We have a pretty easy going institution as far as no/low cost initiatives are concerned, but that leads to problems with institutional carry over from one person to the next. I like the flexibility personally, but I certainly see the problems there.
Hmm, we just had a big snafu at our library about this… we too are also working on follow through/back-ups etc so we do not end up littering the internet with our dead/wilted social initiatives.
Thanks for mentioning us. I did start the web 2.0 tools at SBCC but in the last 12-months handed out the tweet keys to the other librarians too (using HootSuite). When any of us having something to say, the tweet can happen without me. We can also share the duties on our Get Satisfaction account. I’m still doing the Facebook.
Let me take up another level. Our campus was not using Twitter but the two neighboring campuses were (UCSB and Westmont). I had tried last year to get our campus marketing team on board but they did not take action. This past spring I setup a campus account and made a few tweets. I told the marketing team about it and they immediately came on board (and took it over). They have a policy of only one employee having access to the Twitter account rather than the whole team.
It really dies depend on the goal and the manager, not just the organization. I’ll always be a player with new online toys and my staff is very generous in letting me play and try new things.
Given the user participationa and user-generated content nature of web 2.0 tools, it seems to work best when every librarian who has an outreach function as part of their position is contributing to the effort to use the technology to connect with users. And that is what happens at MPOW, although some librarians are more involved than others. We have one or two that get involved in podcasts, quite a few have discipline specific blogs, others are tweeting or monitoring tweets about our library, our communications specialist works more closely with facebook – so it really is spread around. I don’t think it would work at well if it was just one person doing this and everyone else’s attitude was “that’s the job of the tech guy/gal – I just work at the reference desk”.
That said I see another dimension to this. I think it can be helpful to have some designated specialists. For example, the emerging tech librarian should take the lead and figure out how things work – and share it with others. A communications specialist can help to make sure we deliver a unified message about services and programs. And an administrator should be paying attention to all of the different technologies, who is involved (and who isn’t) and what’s being said. The administrator needs to make it clear that although frontline contributors need freedom to generate comment, there has to be recognition that everyone represents the library – not themselves – and it’s not an “anything goes” situation.
As we evolve from 2.O web to real-time web (and real-time libraries) it will probably become an even more integral part of every librarian’s basic job to be connected to the user community in real-time whenever and wherever.
I’m the one at my library who started our Facebook page–over a year before our university even had one. I’m doing it because I was the one interested. I’m an instruction and reference librarian, and I’m not sure how many of my public services colleagues are even on Facebook or Twitter (at least a few, but certainly not all). I don’t know what will happen to our Facebook page if I leave, but it wouldn’t have existed without me either.
Like a lot of projects, sometimes the best coordinator is the one who is most interested. And I think we need to avoid being prescriptive about who “should” be running these services.
Various people at our library take on the web 2.0 initiatives, particularly those in user sevices as we are the ones dealing with the customers, their learning and their queries. This question is a good one, however, as it discusses responsibility. ECU Library is fairly easy going and staff are encouraged to utilise technologies as they see fit.Howevewr, through our various committees we have touched on how much we need to template productions if they are going out under a library banner or to what to do to avoid spam and copyright infringments and other such like. There is not hard an fast rules though, just a need for awareness to avoid embarrassing the corporate body… It is all very much toe in the water stuff.
I’m our library’s e-learning librarian, and I’m also the one who has the biggest crossover of interest/time/job responsibilities. Therefore, I write our reference blog (with help of some other ref librarians) and keep the twitter updated (with the help of the marketing director and the director for public services – we all have the password) and monitor the Facebook page (with the two directors I just mentioned and one other interested librarian as admins…). I also monitor the Flickr account and the delicious links, etc. There are people interested here, I’ve just been able to get some of the web 2.0 projects off the ground.
Like Joan P. above, I am the one who has started the 2.0 initiatives at my library from the library’s blog to the FB page. I am the Outreach Librarian (at least that is the title; I am in many ways more the troubleshooter and handyman rolled into one), so it fell on me. I don’t mind, since I have an interest in this, but like others have expressed, if I leave, the future could be uncertain. However, the accounts are set in a way where I can just pass the passwords to someone (likely the Instruction Librarian), and she could carry on. In other words, the library blog and FB page are not connected to me. It is something I have been pondering, what happens when the one who set things up leaves.
Best, and keep on blogging.
Our library has Twitter and blogs to maintain (we have FB as well but it auto-updates from our website.) As the library director and one of the geekiest on staff, I do a lot of it. That said, I also allow anyone on staff to blog, update the website and tweet. Few take advantage of Twitter or the blogs, but it is there if they wish. Our website is updated by many hands in all departments. I love the feel of the varying styles, showing our public that we are human and interesting.
This works really well for us and gets everyone participating, creating, and talking.
It seems to me that social media is a means to an end, not the end itself. So various people on a library’s staff may want to use different tools, such as twitter, to communicate about their work, rather than assigning the task to one person.
I work at an incredibly small library in a very small community. We have three employees, a full time director, a full time childrens librarian, and me, the part time clerk. I use these tools personally and we all thought that I would be the best at managing our myspace and twitter etc. because I am pretty much the unofficial teen librarian and they are the reason we are using these tools. The director, however, is the one who takes care of the actual website, just so she can be positive that all the information is accurate, and because I don’t have any experience with websites yet. It realy does depend on who wants to do it. If we left it up to someone who didn’t really care, it would show in the dry, boring content of the profile or what have you, and really do the oposite of what was intended.
I agree with Stephenb (Comment #4 above) that there should be a unified message and that administration should keep a finger on the pulse. We’ve just hired a Digital Services librarian who is gathering information from staff who have created branch blogs, facebook and twitter accounts during our recent “27Things” campaign. She hasn’t made any announcements yet, but I believe she is working on guidelines for branch staff regarding being “out there” on behalf of the library.
As others have mentioned, cutting edge technologies like these are often produced through the initiative of passionate and committed staff. Unfortunately, keeping these projects going after that staff leaves or is reassigned is another matter altogether. It’s not enough to build the tool or sell it to your patrons. You need to sell it to your staff as well and get somebody else investing their time or attention. I’m relatively certain every new 2.0 project I began at my last library has now faded from memory (and not for lack of usefulness).
I live on the “public” side of the library world. This was sort of a question that came to me wearing my work hat, with a very specific twist — wanting to know about policies on Twitter.
Here is a link to the blog post I wrote where some of the info suggested that there needs to be a “broader view” which is what is suggested in the question you were asked. Think “institutional communication policies” and you actually move away from a technology focus to what I think is the real question. (Michael Porter used the quoted words.)
Read the comments also, there is a very good one at the end.