As a youth I remember intently studying the troubles of others — what they did when they got into trouble and how they got out of it. If the saying “You Learn From Your Mistakes” was so true, I wanted to be able to learn from the mistakes of others. I don’t do that as much anymore — probably because I have more than enough of my own mistakes now to learn from — but every once in a while a situation comes up where this urge strikes. The case ofresurfaced that youthful urge.
As libraries feel the need to join the social media landscape to meet a segment of their user population already there, it is useful to step back and get acclimated. There is a pace of information flow that is unlike anything else in the physical world, and a minor incident — be it an ill-advised policy decision or an unfortunate slip of the tongue — can quickly spiral out of your control. And that is probably the key word: control. You don’t, can’t, and won’t have it. It isn’t the nature of this media. “Damage control,” if you want to think of it like that, is honest, sincere, decisive, and quick communication with your users. As a counter example, I offer the case of Clinical Reader.
The American Library Association annual conference is getting more social each year, and as a long-time member of ALA and often a critic of the, well, un-togetherness of ALA’s electronic capabilities, it is nice to see the trend continuing this year. Take, for instance, the Blogger’s Room. Initially just a LITA thing, it is now being promoted as an association-wide service. As I write this, that page has about two dozen entries for individual and group blogs that say they will be covering conference events.
It was only a few months ago that I was teasing Dan Chudnov for joining Twitter. Now I’ve gone and done it myself. I don’t expect to be using it much, but after observing the “Falls Church, VA” incident yesterday, I thought it would be an useful tool to have at-the-ready. Here’s the story of what inspired it.