[A couple of gentle reminders: I’m still collecting addresses for the Ho. Ho. Ho. holiday card exchange. End date probably first week of December or roughly thereabouts. Second gentle reminder: The pick the literacy charity contest over at Excessively Diverting is running until 12/6! Lastly! I redid biblyotheke.net to be more portal-ish, so while I’ll still be doing my “Collections” every week or so of where I’m writing, you have a one-stop shop for everything Lisa.]
Last week I was ensconced at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa with my partner in crime, Kristin, for the yearly Michigan Library Association conference. Kristin and I presented our poster on Wednesday, “Critical Error: The Need for Michigan Public Libraries to Represent Themselves Online.” To be honest, Kristin and I were totally expecting people to come after us with pitchforks, ready to throw us onto burning pyres because while we weren’t specifically naming names at out poster session, we were in a very broad sense saying, “Hey! Michigan Public Libraries! Your library’s website sucks gonads, here are the reasons why and why this is killing you!” Instead, it seems that many (okay MOST) were like, “You guys, this is awesome. You’ve given us ammunition to take to our boards validate using these resources.” We were greatly relieved, to say the least, to not be run out of town.
What, then, is our research project? Dewey District Library the the nom de plum of our research endeavors. From our about page:
Librarianation is a blog highlighting research being conducted on the current state of Michigan Public Libraries and their relationship with online services. We are investigating not only which libraries have online services, but which resources they are using, how they are being implemented and how well they are incorporated with “Traditional Library Services” at each location. Our findings so far have concluded that there is a wide gap in the adoption of online services and well developed online presences between many Public Libraries in Michigan. The second step of our research will involve identifying the probable root causes of this gap and practical strategies to shrink it.
For our poster session, we randomly sampled 80 public libraries in Michigan, which accounts for 20% of the state total (383). These public libraries are classified by the main branch library for an area (example such as Grand Rapids Public or Traverse Area District), but does not include the branches of a particular library system. So GRPL and TADL are counted as ONE individual public library, instead of 8 (GRPL + branches) and 4 (TADL + branches) libraries respectively. These random samples were across the various classes (class 1 serves a population under 3999 persons to class 6, which serves a population of 50K or more) and we found a lot of interesting data. We put together a SlideShare of the graphics and info we used on our poster to make it accessible. We’ve also got an every growing bibliography. So what else are we going to do with the data? Glad you asked
- Finish compiling data for the remaining 80%.
- Blog, publish and present on the topic.
- Create and distribute “How-To” via web/video/screenshots/whatevs.
- Visit, photograph and check-in1 at each public library in Michigan. We’ve started this already.
- Update/Add to LibraryThing Local, Yelp and Google Maps for each library location.
- Blog and review each of the libraries as we visit them.
Not only are we interested in (essentially) cataloging all of the public libraries in Michigan but we’re also interested in their use of social media and how it is (or is not) affecting their community. Visiting the libraries in person definitely challenges what we find out about them online. Here’s a perfect example: Elk Rapids District Library. You look at their website and you’re thinking, “Esh. This library is nothing special, it has no personality and it is solidly stuck in the 20th century.” Wrong. Images of Elk Rapids District Library. JUST LOOK AT IT. As Kristin is fond of saying, “It is cozy as BALLS.” Granted it was staffed by OAP’s2 with one foot in the grave, but the library was obviously very well loved, cared for and taken care of. I could sit in this room and work all day long. They have a fantastic core collection, new titles, Free Wifi, public computers and loads of other services. This place is just fantastic, so much so that I called TheHusband from the library and told him to start looking for houses in the area RIGHT NOW.
If you’re interested in following us on the research project, which will always be in progress, you can find us at the following locations:
1. Check-in using geo-social services such as FourSquare / BrightKite / Gowalla. If the library is not listed in the service, create it.
2. Old Age Persons.