Monday, April 28, 2008

TLA 2008 Conference Notes, Day 3: Reference 2.0 session

Title of session: Reference 2.0: Using New Web Technologies to Enhance Public Services
Presenters: Miranda Bennett (University of Houston), Susan Clarke (Stephen F. Austin), Eric Frierson (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor).

This will be brief because I actually walked out of the session. I was hoping for something a bit more substantial, and this boiled down to a "101" session. This is basically the kind of presentation that was ok two years ago, and that I think we should be done and over by now. I will go ahead and be blunt: if you are a librarian who by now does not know what is a blog, what is a feed reader and what it is used for, you have no business being a librarian. Why? Because a librarian should have intellectual curiosity among other things, and such intellectual curiosity would have guided said librarian to find out what those things are. I am not saying a librarian needs to have a blog. Blogging does not work for everybody. I know; there are days when I wonder if it works for me. But at the absolute minimum, a librarian should know what these things are, making yet another session on "This is a blog. This is what you do with it. You can search for them on Technorati, and you can keep track of them on Bloglines" unnecessary. It's called keeping up. I basically stayed out of politeness until the first speaker was done, but had I known, I would have picked a different session or just slept in that morning.

You see, when the program description said "discover practical applications of Web 2.0 in reference and public services," I was expecting exactly that. How are these things used at the reference desk and at service points? Are you using a account maybe to keep track of commonly used resources at the desk? How exactly are you using a blog for reference work, if you are, and what is the success of that endeavor? Internal blogs as knowledge base for instance? Anyone doing that? How's that work and how would it be different than a wiki? And how is patron use being assessed? Because I hear a lot about how libraries set up the tools, but I don't hear any evidence of assessment or whether they have an active audience or not. Sure, your webpage may look slick with 20 blogs and 50 subject wikis on them, but are they being used, how do you know? What feedback mechanisms do you have in place and are they working for you or not? And if they are not working, what would you do differently so the rest of us can learn from that? Now that would be a session worth getting up for at 8:00am. I am sure other librarians better or more experienced than me could come up with better questions of what they would like to know. Just my two cents.

1 comment:

beverly said...

You are right; sessions that you described are getting boring. Hopefully they will be exchanged by the topics you suggest.