Friday, May 30, 2008

<30 social networking game; Farmington Libraries Response

ComScore, Inc. recently reported “The number of worldwide visitors to social networking sites has grown 34 percent in the past year to 530 million, representing approximately 2 out of every 3 Internet users. MySpace and Facebook are in a tight battle for the global leadership position, each attracting more than 100 million visitors per month”.

The application of social networking tools in libraries is a critical element to 21st century success. While digital communications via Web 2.0 are new, community collaboration has always and will remain the fundamental building block for all civilizations past and future.

The important question here is: how does the library become a recognizable resource in this new electronic social venue? To answer this question, we must test our minds over the next several months and develop methods and technologies to project the libraries into social networking. The harsh fact today is that twenty-somethings use library information less than 1% of the time, while relying 99% of the time on other sources: friends, Google etc.

Natural logic leads me to conclude that this age group will continue to increase, not based solely on the passage of time, but rather by the necessity of communicating in an increasingly more digitally-centric society.

Stamford University has recognized digital social networking as a viable communications channel by developing and offering graduate MBA classes in Facebook Marketing. These changes in communications models and in basic resource findings require significant alterations from the current library model of maintaining that the only reliable information source is a vetted information source.

The library’s card catalog is competing at a great disadvantage to the optimized commercial web, and although OCLC, the global library card catalog, and Google have collaborated to include library collections into its search string; fundamental change must be invoked at the local library level to provide equal access channels to library information. The utilization of statistical logic tables, artificial intelligence models, and total integration of resources into a seamless library catalog will provide the important window necessary to give people an impetus to use the information available.

This basic structural and transformational change to information access has placed a great opportunity before us. The library must become an even more important player in the traditional physical social network within its geographic communities where people can actually meet face-to-face to continue on-line conversations. The library is the twenty-first century agora where technology groups, economic groups, and many others come together to have fun, and to review opinions to better understand topics as they develop.

With that in mind, The Farmington Libraries have pushed the tiller alee, capturing a new breeze with which to fill our sails--more programs for children and adults, a Media Lab for inter-generational use and discovery, a new look at teens, and how to engage this age group who are already adapted to these new technologies.

The current development of a high-powered learning environment that stretches the imagination and works to solve or clarify many important questions that are difficult and should be considered as follows:
(1) How to operate your new digital camera.
(2) How to convert analog materials such as VHS and audio cassettes to digital media.
(3) How to discover a place to visit and enjoy your neighbors and friends at public forums.
(4) Where to go in your neighborhood for the most current book talks, concerts, author lectures, bus trips, travel programs, and gaming.
(5) Checking the important date for the “Second Annual Taste of Farmington” or one of many other exciting opportunities in the Farmington Libraries future planning and events.

Yes, we are working very diligently to provide the services and materials in which you are interested and need. One of the major differences between Web 1.0 and web 2.0 is the social interaction and participation. In that regard, Farmington Libraries are practicing the Library 2.0 model as well……….. please let me know how we are doing and what we can do to make things better for Farmington………..