Digitizing Our Stories: Why Narrative Matters Most in Libraries

21/12/2012 § 4 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kelly Minta.


An employee outreach poster from Los Angeles’ first transportation library, Los Angeles Railway, which is now the Los Angeles’ Metropolitan Transportation Library.

The concept of librarians creating content and using grassroots promotional techniques to present libraries to the public isn’t a new idea, but it is happening in more innovative ways today.   The creation of content, whether on interactive user-generated sites or through articles, charts, images, and other storytelling mediums, is no longer an alternative to conventional means of public outreach and collection development. Rather, it is a necessity as libraries build stronger web presences.  Creating a digital space for people to visit the library is equally as important as creating a physical space for users.

As a graduate student who has studied and interned in public libraries, academic libraries, and archives, I have been able to see firsthand that the creation of content and dissemination of information in all types of library institutions is vital.  Not only are library users educated about the collection of materials, this is also a way to garner attention from those who do not patronize the institution.  The librarians who create this content are tech savvy writers and storytellers who understand the value of imparting narrative into a library or archive’s collection in order to add significance to people’s lives.

The concept of service is one that librarianship is founded on, and it can be very difficult to change the collective mindset of librarians away from conventional reference services to service via original web content.  I recently interned for a public library and was able to see firsthand that the culture of public libraries is often so focused on in-person service that they may fail to see the entire audience of users who are at home on laptops, sitting in classes or meetings with tablets, or out shopping with smartphones.  These are people that the library could be reaching – people who crave data and information that is useful, informative and accessible.  These are people who care about their communities and libraries and, while they might not visit the physical location, still support the library’s mission.  Digital spaces for libraries are more than an online representation of our physical ones – they are another wing of the library, a separate sphere for education and collaboration that draws users into the library via new and usable information.

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Lauren Pressley Wants to Give You Her Book!

29/11/2012 § 7 Comments

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two part series. An interview with Andromeda Yelton of Gluejar will be posted next week on Thursday, December 6.

We drew you in, didn’t we? Well, it’s true: librarian and author Lauren Pressley is working with crowdfunding startup unglue.it to provide free access to her book So You Want To Be a Librarian. Read our interview with Lauren to learn more about the book, unglue.it, and how you can contribute!

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Wikipedia, Libraries and the GLAM Project

17/10/2012 § 13 Comments

Participants at the Wikipedia edit-a-thon held at the Indiana University Archives.

How often do you use Wikipedia? If you’re anything like me, probably a lot! I’ve been interested in exploring the relationship between libraries and what I’m pretty sure it’s the only encyclopedia I’ve ever used for a long time (giant physical copies were already on their way out by the time I was old enough to use one). Sad story, though: when I was an undergrad preparing to apply for library school, I included a link to the Wikipedia page on stereoscopes in a post on my personal blog about my university’s special collections. I was soon told by a librarian that I would be looked down on as a future library professional if I included links to Wikipedia in a post I wanted to be taken seriously. I remembering wondering right then if I would fit in in the library world–I wasn’t citing it in my dissertation, I just wanted readers to see a picture and get a brief overview of what the contraption was. From then on, I was constantly aware of this Wikipedia/library tension boiling under the surface, but I wanted no part of it.

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Pinning for the Patrons

30/07/2012 § 5 Comments

Photo by Jude Doyland

A few months ago a co-worker introduced me to Pinterest with the disclaimer that I would waste massive amounts of time on the platform once engaged. And they were right. I’ve spent a great deal of time collecting recipes I’ll never cook, outfits I’ll never buy and ideas to repurpose an old door that I don’t have. While some may see it as a waste of time, I enjoy the time I spend on Pinterest and it has prepared me for one of my new library job tasks: managing my library’s presence on the site. Admittedly, I’m still perfecting our approach, but I do have some tips that I’d like to share. (Check out this Pinterest 101 if you need help with some of the jargon below). « Read the rest of this entry »

Librarian By Name, Geek By Nature

11/07/2012 § 50 Comments

My cohort, we talk. After our weekend intensive classes, we often go out roaming in search of a likely bar, and when we find one, we sit, we drink, and we talk. And since we’ve generally just spent 12 hours in class together, we usually end up talking about library school.

This month marks the halfway point through our MLS program,  and by now we’ve begun to form some strong opinions on the subject: what’s working, what’s not, what we’d change if we could.  And a few of us began to play with this question: if you could design your own MLS program from scratch, what features would you definitely include? Especially those that are lacking from library education as it exists today — if you were establishing the program that would define library school for the next generation, what do you think would absolutely need to be a part of it?

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