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The library where I work is a city library, which often feels a bit lonely. We collaborate with other county libraries, but we have to fight our own battles with local administration. We’ve got a great mayor that runs the show, but he’s incredibly resistant to any social technology and what he feels are the “inherent risks” it enabling web conversations to run both ways. Likewise, our tech department feels there’s no room for social technology, and blocks social networking from all city computers. While reading some of assigned reading this week, I realized we’re not alone. Many of the articles spoke to the road blocks libraries encounter when trying to enter into the social an interactive library. Jami Haskell, in her article “create a social software policy for your library,” encourages libraries to tackle skepticism by providing clear social networking guidelines in the form of library policies (http://www.webjunction.org/computer-policies/articles/content/452821). “Applied prototyping: designing for buy-in,” follows the idea that libraries need to create a working model to test the waters, then approach the powers that be (http://dbl.lishost.org/blog/2007/07/03/applied-prototyping-designing-for-buy-in/). I definitely can see see how combining both approaches would work with our mayor. He doesn’t like to have to visualize ideas, instead wanting to see solid proof of how ideas are going to work right out of the gate. It feels like providing clear and concise policy would help alleviate some of his fears of losing control over the two way conversation.
Establishing trust with an IT department is a slippery slop. Nobody is expected to know as much as an IT person and be fluent in their terminology, but as the article “building trust with IT staff” describes, you must be able to “discuss things on their own terms” (http://www.librarywebchic.net/2005/07/04/building-trust-with-it-staff/). Our IT staff are incredibly knowledgeable, and feel like they are constantly fighting the good fight against the those trying to work their way into the city internet system. Actually letting people in, so-to-speak, through social networking seems counter intuitive to the way they work.
Our library director feels strongly about the need to implement web 2.0 (yes, we’re not even there yet) and social networking aspects to our website, and has been to push the mayor to make the plunge. These days, not having a presence on Facebook feels like you don’t really have a web presence at all.