Archive for June, 2009

Netflix ships 2.2 million DVDs a day. And circulates 95% of its inventory every three months. Netflix is the best DVD ILL system in the world. What do you think of THAT modern libraries?
*found on notes accompanying behind the scenes shipping room pictures that Netflix just posted to facebook today*
Comments from my facebook page are below. Fascinating that facebook now gets more interaction than this ole’ blog. Not surprising, but it does make the point of my last post a bit more intensely. At any rate…read the debate!
fb Netflix conversation June09.

When I write, talk about and present on social tools, media distribution and library futures I ALWAYS talk about functionality. Brand names are important but *functionality* is what really matters. It has always been my strong opinion that LIBRARIES need to be creating the spaces where people interact with each other the way they do on facebook/Twitter etc. Why?

Facebook, and a dozen other for profit orgs, reaches too deeply into our REAL lives and connections to be held responsible to business principles/concerns only. Meanwhile, library orgs understand community and the deeper issues of privacy and democracy more than any company tasked with making profit ever could. But quite frankly, we (the entire library industry) generally stink at software development. Happily though, for thoughtful (and talented) software development companies, library folks get privacy and the sacred trust of protecting information (and therefore democracy at large) in ways that would escape most any other professional. The understanding libraries have here is built into our mission statements and policies. These aren’t vague promises or “statements” to “not be evil” that have no teeth when it comes to how we operate in our communities. No, these policies and practices demonstrate understanding of and commitment to protecting privacy all the while focusing on developing communities for the benefit of the community at large. Once a company like facebook get the critical mass it has now, this sort of consideration must be part of its operational intent. If not, there will be dire consequences for our society.

So will we make the next sea change as an industry or will we get cast about by the whims of info fads, social buzz, and shiny tools…at the cost of our core democratic principles? Or, just maybe, can we find a work together for the betterment of all involved…

And to Twitter, facebook, etc, I would personally challenge you to approach us, and work with us. Step up and be more than a business. You have a powerful impact and your promise is inspiring…in much the same way libraries are inspiring (after all we are both all about information and community, aren’t we?). In many ways you already are fulfilling your promise, but you are treading on dangerous ground for society at large if you don’t guard information based on a higher set of principles than business success. We want to work with you, honestly. Please get in touch with us. Heck, start with me here! I can get a slew of us together to help you and we’ll all be better organizations for it.

http://www.facebook.com/libraryman

Yeah, buddy! Here’s to facebook username URL’s! As of this Friday night! W00t! Hey fb, what took you so long?

#infograd
Here’s a FUN graduation exercise you can easily join in on! Send you congratulations to all the 2009 Library and Information Science Grads using the #infograd hash tag! The hash tag started as a part of the convocation address I’m writing and will present University of Washington’s iSchool this evening. But it sure would be nice to all celebrate together and send the Library and Info Science grads the world over good wishes here, on Twitter or elsewhere using that tag.

And all you grads, parents and friends on Twitter, please be sure to use that tag pre, post or even DURING the ceremony tonight at the University of Washington!

Congratulations all you fresh Library and Information Science Graduates! You will accomplish so many amazing things! #infograd

The Seattle Public Library system to close Aug. 31 through Sept. 7
The Seattle Public Library system will close Monday, Aug. 31 through Sunday, Sept. 6 due to citywide budget cuts. Please note Monday, Sept. 7 is the Labor Day holiday and all libraries will be closed. Regular Library operations will resume Tuesday, Sept. 8
. press release here

While I don’t know all the deepest details here, I usually advocate for very thoughtful, strong, quick, dramatic action when forced into situations like this. And I believe that closing the web site is a great idea! That might not be a very popular stance to take, but it does makes good sense if handled properly.

There is no getting around that fact that the reality of these situations makes us feel a bit queasy, but this really is a rare and (hopefully) unique teaching opportunity. As budgets get trimmed all over the world, libraries are chipped at bit by bit. It has almost become a sad tradition of sorts for many library systems. And in these systems we work ourselves silly with fewer resources and less money while trying to not show how thinly stretched we are. We keep doing more with less until…one day we wake up to find that we don’t have things like effective methods of distributing the most popular electronic content available on the web through the library(see Netflix, Amazon and iTunes) or that we aren’t the platform considered most seriously as new display technologies become closer to ubiquitous (see iPhone and Kindle). And we can afford smaller budgets? Well, ok, but there is a cost…and we shouldn’t try to hide that cost from the communities we serve.

So when the SPL site is down I’d advise them to have their page go black expect for a one sentence (linked to the press release) “The SPL and all its branches are closed from **-** due to budget cuts.” Under that sentence I’d have a link that says something like: “When a library is open it returns $$$ value for every $ spent. Click here to read the facts.” and link to solid/scientific examples and proof of the value/ROI of the library being open.

I know its is easy for me to say this since I don’t work for SPL, but I think this is the right way to go. If you get cut, make sure people can see how it hurts them. WE don’t do ourselves any favors by glossing things over and if people clearly understood the costs they might just prevent things like this from happening to libraries in the first place.

But what do you think?

PS-Some library ROI links for ya’. And another doozy!