The Only Online Platforms you Need (part two)

I recently wrote about dropping everything but email and FB for your online strategy but I thought I should also mention some thoughts on everything else. I’m absolutely still advocating for your library to focus its use on just those two things, but of course there’s a bit more to it then that.

Name Registration
While you should focus your library’s resources on these two platforms, you should most definitely claim your library’s name across as many as you can. This is mostly because we may one day find a use for things like G+ and you don’t want someone else to have your name claimed. It’s also almost always free to sign up for a social media platform and at the very least capture your library’s username so why not do it. There are sites like that will do the work for you if you want.

The other reason you should capture your library’s name is a bit more sinister. As Jason Griffey pointed out when Dale Askey was being sued by Edward Mellon Press, the law firm that was performing the lawsuit starting buying up any version of the URLs that could be associated with his name. This is just part of the due diligence of lawsuits in information age. We have also seen political campaigns buy their opposition’s URLs and claim usernames on social media as part of their counter campaign. This is not something that you want the opposition to your library or library campaign to do. Might as well get them while you can!

Using All the Others
Am I saying that you should NEVER touch another social media platform? Well, no. Not exactly. My post was about the most effective platforms for advocating for your library whether you’re in a campaign or just want to tell people about your library. There are ways to use other social media platforms that you might find useful. Here are some of the ways that I’ve seen social media platforms be used in a meaningful way by librarians-

  • Pinterest– You can find great Arts and Crafts, DIY program ideas
  • Meetup– Find local groups of people interested in specific topics that you can promote programs too
  • Twitter– Online reference. You can search by location and for people asking questions and then answer them. Think of it like digital roaming reference
  • Flickr– For the love of GOD!!! Please stop using clipart. You can find really good creative commons pictures for your signage and displays and ads.
  • Goodreads– I have seen some libraries do excellent reader’s advisory or organize book clubs
  • Instagram– It is so quick and easy to connect your Instagram account to many of your social media accounts if you want to share pictures across them. Why not?
  • LinkedIn– For your own career or to find quality and experienced presenters in your community on a variety of topics
  • Tumblr– It is a newer and younger growing community and I think it’s still best for librarians to use it for themselves as a kind of professional portfolio more than anything else at this point. But we’ll see what happens.
  • Second Life– LOL!! Just kidding.


Whatever you do, you can still play with all the others. There’s no real harm in it after all. You might find something fun and exciting to use them for and you’ll be learning some new skills and how to critically apply new tools to your library.

library advocacy 2

Will Google+ be Another Brick in the Tower of Babel?

So I had this random thought and posted it to Google+.  The conversation was one of those rare good conversations that occur on social media sites. So good in fact, that I thought I’d post it here for anyone not on Google+ yet or have no desire to make the switch.

PC Sweeney -Thought… With the significant fracturing of the social media that should be bringing us together, building communities, and having the potential to create a more perfect society and/or better social spaces are we recreating another tower of Babble? When we all join a different social media space will we be able to communicate with anyone?

PC Sweeney – I currently speak Google+, Facebook, myspace, twitter, youtube, flickr, vimeo, wordpress, goodreads, librarything, blogger, picassa, bucketlist, and a few others….

Eric Riley – This is why there needs to be real social media federation. You should be able to select the social site you prefer, for whatever reason and be able to connect with people from other sites with no barrier.

Unfortunately most websites prefer to see their users as a commodity rather than a person. Facebook is trying to pull some serious dick moves to prevent people from leaving, like not being able to export your data, closing ads for other sites, not allowing api access, and not allowing a user to delete their profile. It’s petty, childlike behavior.

As federation building protocols like xmpp becomes more ubiquitous we’ll see how certain social sites want to play. Google has said thy want to allow federation VIA G+ but its not in here yet. My guess is that this is a result of this still being trial phase, and that it will be implemented eventually.

Ellen Carey – I’m all for federation. I can (and usually will) learn to “speak” any social media you put in front of me. But trying to keep up with the content on all of them can hinder, rather than help, true communication as my attention gets stretched ever thinner – especially when we make a lot of noise contributing what amounts to the same content through multiple channels. At the same time, many of the people I want to connect with are disinclined toward the level and range of social media fluency that interests me, and are unlikely to leave their familiar Facebook for Google+ (for example). It would be great if we could prevent our communities from being splintered by what is a cool new tool to some, and yet another overwhelming thing to learn to others.

Jennifer Meyer – A great question for sure. It’s funny but I think we sort of lose sight of what the technology is – at least I’m guilty of this. But really it’s just a tool. It gets used as any other tool and is only as effective as its user. If as a human being I interact on social media with the same personal blind spots as I do in “real live” then I’ll limit my communication regardless of what platform I’m using. Despite the possibilities we are still “stuck” inside our own little sphere.

Would social media really be more productive at bringing others together for social change with a federation?? I don’t know; bet it would depend on the paradigm of the society when the federation formed. What is the goal of social interaction? To find differences and celebrate, or to find similarities and celebrate? Neither is wrong in fact I’ll bet we need both – but do we purposely go out and look for differences??

Ellen Carey – Great points. I agree: we need both. And I think many (most?) of us seek out and celebrate the similarities rather than the differences – through social media as well as F2F.

As far as tools go, I’m always thinking about the less tech savvy people I know who are overwhelmed by the learning curve for each new thing. Their inability to keep pace with the rapid introduction of new technologies can isolate them when fellow community members like me move on to newly-formed communities based on new tools. It can also disenchant them with social media in general, and I have very mixed feelings about that problem. On the one hand, I think we all need to take it upon ourselves to keep up with the pace of change. On the other, I don’t want to leave anyone behind, and I don’t think it’s reasonable for me to expect everyone to be as geeky about becoming fluent as I am. How do we consider the very real challenges of access to information and community, in such a rapidly changing landscape, for the significant number of people who are not digital natives? The idea of federation is on appealing solution in theory. I’m not sure how it would work in practice.

Jennifer Meyer – Ellen well thought! One phrase came to mind as I was reading that. Access points. And isn’t that awesome that librarians do that? Perhaps part of our future is going to be creating and disseminating access points for that social community – whatever that might be. It will become critical that we acknowledge those challenges in a similar way to ADA considerations. Particularly when it might be lack of digital access that prevents people from learning those new technologies.

Ellen Carey – Absolutely! I love the idea of librarians developing access points to communities. And I like the analogy to ADA considerations. I am still (always) wrestling with the question of what is reasonable to expect of those who have digital access, but lack the desire to develop a level of fluency in the digital world.

Could Google+ Ruin Your Online Personal Brand?

So I got a google+ invite (just bragging)! While I was exploring this new social media and talking to friends and happily putting them all in all of their specifically labeled circles, I started thinking about the amount of metadata that we are creating for each other and about each other. I started thinking about twitter lists, facebook groups, and other classifications in the multitude of social media platforms that we, our company, or our brand, is being put into against our will and without our control.

I understand that people have had these concerns with FB already because they are already doing some of it in a way. But I think that Google is slightly different because people “like” a company on FB or “friend” me and its pretty much exclusive to FB, whereas people “Google” me to find all of my online persona or a company’s online presence. These groups and pages in FB don’t have an effect on people’s search results for me within FB. But, my friends’ classification of me could have a strong impact on what search terms are used to find me or have a strong impact on my public online identity.

Here is another difference, I think. FB uses my groups and likes data to send me more specific and better targeted ads and recommendations. I’m the only one who is really affected by this data because I see the ads and recommendations when I’m online. I see the results of people’s classifications of me. And, for the most part, I’m the only one who does. However, Google can more effectively use this “circle” data to influence the search results for me. Results that anyone can see, that influence how people find me, and that the public can associate with my online brand identity.

This is because these lists and groups generate a massive amount of metadata about our online persona. I originally thought about Google+’s collection of this data specifically because they are in the search, metadata, and ad business. My first thought was how my friends’ classification of me in circles would affect search results for my public online identity (PC Sweeney) that I spent a lot of time constructing. Would it be completely upended because people started putting me in the “douchebag” circle? Would it be possible that whenever someone searched for “assholes” I would rise to the top of the search results because that’s how people had classified me? Or, would I simply continue to be put in the “librarian” circle? Or even… dare I say it? That searches for “awesome” would bring me to the top of Google searches?

But, ok… Let’s just say that I’m put in the asshole circle, twitter list, and facebook list (because that’s more fun). How will that affect my job search or my career advancement? People potentially could see my online brand through search results, and people’s classification of me that I am branded as an asshole. My boss, or future boss could learn about this and it could ruin my career.

While, I think this would be mostly funny, I wonder about larger companies that have been branded by these lists such as BP, PG&E or Walmart. How can they control it? I don’t think they can either. They could try to avoid social media all together to try to limit their classifications. But then what about FB Places or Yelp that automatically generated a social media space for that company? Avoiding social media would be wrong too.

So what is the solution? In the future, starting now, it is going to be more and more important to not be an asshole and more important to just be awesome.

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Free Seminars for Librarians: Its time to learn something!!

So… I wrote a super snarky blog post yesterday that basically came down to complaining about librarians or library workers who claim they can’t do something because they don’t know how (we work in a library, everything you need to know is on the shelf, in our databases, or you should know how to find it). However, I decided not to post it on the advice of quite a few librarians. So instead, I’ll post this blog about an organization that presents a solution. I don’t like complaining but I do like solutions after all.

I’m going to put out a plug for an organization called InfoPeople who I have had many great experiences with but whose Twitter account I just found. From their website InfoPeople describes themselves as:

“A statewide LSTA project that functions as the training arm of the California State Library. Some other state libraries provide training via in-house staff. California has opted to essentially outsource training in order to leverage the maximum return on investment of training dollars. The Infopeople model provides a breadth of training topics and a depth of training expertise greater than any single library or library agency, no matter how large, could provide.”

While I do like this organization quite a bit, you might have noticed a tweet once or twice where I expressed my frustration with some of the trainings that they offered. This was more in regard to the fact that they saw a need for those trainings and not because the organization did something wrong. (Ex. A $75 training for Googledocs? Librarians should already know how to use this)

Anyway, I have been to some of their trainings and I enjoyed them and learned quite a bit. More recently I had a couple of experiences with some of the folks behind the organization and I have to say that they are all good people trying to do good work for libraries.

While they do charge for their trainings, they do provide quite a few webcasts and online seminars that are archived that you and your staff can see for free. Even though this is a California based organization, it seems that anyone can access the free webinars! What a great service to libraries! If you haven’t checked out their webinars you really should. One of my favorites being George and Joan: Thinking out Loud.

Here are some of their more recent offerings;

Re-energizing Your Preschool Storytime: New Ideas for Busy Children’s Staff

Top Tech Trends for the Non-Technical

Michael Cart Talks about Patrick Ness and Chaos Walking

George & Joan, Thinking Out Loud about Competition and Disruptive Technologies

Writing a Library Behavior Code – an Update

The New Medline Plus: An In-Depth Look

Michael Cart talks about the life and career of Sid Fleischman

Cool New Legal Sources Online

George and Joan, Thinking Out Loud about the Space Between

Infopeople webinar at noon PDT today:

So if these don’t help you learn something new, check out their website because they have a whole lot more to offer. Don’t forget you can also check your library’s shelves, or its databases, or a podcast, or youtube, or google, or even wikipedia. Once again, I will restate what spurred this post in the first place and simply say – If you work in a library, not knowing something is no excuse.

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Blogged: Libraries and Online Social Capital in a 2.0 World

While I was playing around with and finding all kinds of library awesomeness, I decided that I would post one of my own. This presentation isn’t finished and I want to write some blog posts to go along with it because I think I might be on to something.

Yeah, I know there is a large amount of text on this presentation, but that is so that it makes more sense without me speaking. When I finally get the courage to submit this to a conference to present I’m going to remake it without the text.

This presentation about the concept of Online Social Capital and how libraries need to be thinking about it when they are creating their online profiles. I haven’t read about anyone thinking about online social capital but everyone is kind of dancing around the subject in various ways. I hope that this concept helps to clear up the question of “Why libraries should be involved in online networks.”

I won’t go into too much detail in this post and I hope that you get the information you need from this presentation, but expect some future blog posts that expand on some of the key concepts here. Let me know what you think.

*I am a little frustrated with figuring out how to get the pictures in the presentation to load. Right now there are photos that say that Quicktime and a Decompressor are needed to view the photos. If someone knows how to get that to work I’m all ears.

Amazing video! Range and Scope of Change in Technology. #library

Whenever I see one of these videos I always wonder how I can possibly keep up without taking on learning technology as a full time job.  I also wonder how libraries or other organizations are supposed to keep up without having a full time position dedicated to learning and implementing new technologies.  This is not to say that every technology needs to be used or even that every technology should be used.  But this video confirms my belief that organizations need to be quicker to respond to changes in technology, and a full-time staff person would be a great way to ensure that this happens.

Info about the video

“This is another official update to the original “Shift Happens” video. This completely new Fall 2009 version includes facts and stats focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology, and was developed in partnership with The Economist. For more information, or to join the conversation, please visit and

Content by XPLANE, The Economist, Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Laura Bestler. Design and development by XPLANE, You can follow us on Twitter at”