Sunday, June 3, 2012

More places to get your librarianship questions answered

Librarians today are a fortunate bunch, we trade ideas and advice from librarians thousands of miles away as easily as from someone in the same city using the internet and social media. As a result, new and good ideas flow very quickly these days. All it takes is one Librarian to tweet or post on a mailing list say a script he came up with that allows you to customize Summon and within days, libraries around the world would have copied this innovation.

No longer do you need to attend library conferences in person to get infected by new ideas or to leave your question unanswered because your organization lacks people with the right expertise.
Still is this scenario I painted really true? Does information, innovation in libraries and change occur faster today compared to say 20 years ago? Perhaps one day I will collect some data to try to support this hypothesis. 

In any case, I wrote Where do you get your library news? Evaluating library channels back in 2011 and it is time I updated it for 2012.

1. Facebook groups

I wrote about the "library related people" facebook group   I created in Nov 2010 when the new facebook group option was turned on.

It began as a social experiment and I am gratified to note that the group just exceeded 1,000 members today! 

Still this isn't the biggest Facebook group by librarians. 

According to their own description,  Facebook Group ALA Think Tank  is "facebook's largest active group of info-sharing for librarians". More about ALA Think Tank. As I write this it exceeds 1,400 they may well be right.

Started by the controversial librarian JP Porcaro who was recently named LJ mover & shaker 2012, it is an extremely active Facebook group.

While you don't have a ALA member to join, due to the name understandably the group is mostly consisting of American librarians and less international in nature than the library related people facebook group.

Either group doesn't really have any specific theme beyond the fact it must be library related so pretty much everything goes from asking questions, sharing articles or comments. For most facebook groups you have to be either invited by facebook friends who are already members or you can apply and a moderator of the group will approve.

2, Linked-in Group

I don't really use Linkedin groups much but this network is very much viable in professional circles.

The largest library related Linked-in Group I know of is This Week in Libraries currently with 1,500 members.

Started by Erik Boekesteijn almost a year ago.

3. Stack Exchange

Q&A sites for librarians to ask their librarian peers aren't new. eg. Libcatcode . This is different in that this is on the well known stack exchange network platform which is popular with coders to ask programming related questions.

Now there is one for libraries as the Libraries and Information Science has gone beta at time for writing.

I haven't really tried stack exchange network but it is obviously very well designed for asking and answers Q&A with a incentive based system to encourage answering. I did a little experiment asking the same question to the facebook groups , linked-in groups and stack exchange and the last actually gave the best answers.

There are quite a few rules about the type and phrasing of questions you can put in, which gives it to me a Wikipedia like vibes which can be off-putting to new comers. 


There are plenty of librarian groups springing up all the time. What are the value propositions of joining yet another? This is something you have to decide by yourself. Factors such as size of group, diversity of group and possibility of getting questions answered should be considered.

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