Earlier this week I had the chance to attend Library Camp NYC. Library Camp takes the form of an unconference. That means there are no specific workshops/sessions planned before the event. Those who attend decide what will be discussed at the beginning of the day. Participants volunteer to lead discussions. There were about 24 sessions during the day on an amazing array of topics including web 2.0, cataloging, programming languages, iTunes/iPhone, and more.

During a session on blogging and microblogging, participants discussed whether or not to present oneself via social networking tools as a library, a librarian, or an individual human being. (Is the Facebook account the library Facebook, the librarian’s Facebook, or the human being’s Facebook?) This was an interesting discussion and one that relates to teens in particular. What if libraries created librarian Facebook or MySpace accounts? Wouldn’t these provide teens with personal connections to the librarians who support them? Would this help to connect more directly and personally to the teens that we serve? What if each librarian had a Facebook account and on that account she networked about her favorite materials – music, books, or movies? What if the librarian’s social networking account let teens know about the programs and services he is directly responsible for? Does this help to humanize us with teens?

Another theme discussed at Library Camp NYC was the need for librarians to go where their users are, and not expect users to come to where librarians are. This reminded me of frequent reports of teens considering email as a tool for “old” people. As a matter of fact, in July at Mashup 2007, blogged about here by Kelly Czarnecki, teen entrepreneurs spoke about how they don’t use email but instead use social networks, text messaging, and other virtual environments to connect to friends, family, etc. If we want to go where the teens are we need to meet them on their online social networks and communicate with them using the tools that they use. I’ve heard many young people say, “Facebook is the new email.”

Even if it’s not true that all teens don’t use email and it is true that all teens don’t have cell phones, enough of them don’t (use email) and do (have cell phones) that it’s imperative we start to use these tools to connect with them.

At Library Camp NYC there was definitely lots of discussion about meeting users where they are. Even if the topic wasn’t blatantly discussed the theme came up over and over again. You can visit the Library Camp NYC wiki to learn more about what we talked about.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

One Thought on “Thoughts After Library Camp NYC

  1. MarlanB. [Visitor] on August 16, 2007 at 5:37 pm said:

    Hello,

    Is it necessary to humanize yourself more on social networking sites? I think that no matter how you identify yourself, the content on the site will make the difference (i.e. how often is it updated? what sort of subcultural capital is gained from visiting this site?). Teens befriend bands and organizations all the time on Myspace.

    I’m sorry I missed this camp! It sounds like it was a lot of fun with some great discussion topics.

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