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Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Tweets on libraries

Gerrit van Dyk comments on some tweets about libraries as (respectively) discussion space and quiet space, and I think these raise a couple of issues for libraries:
  1. Often libraries do have the discussion areas people want, but people don't know we do! We're not always very good at promoting the resources/services we have. (In a focus group recently, a postgrad student timidly said that it'd be nice if the library could offer a service where if she was stuck on her literature review she could come to us and we'd help her do it. Us reference librarians running the focus group had a hard time not banging our heads on the nearest desk: this is #1 on our job description and she didn't know that's what we're here for!)

  2. Sometimes we get so focused on a trend (more people want discussion spaces) that we forget that this doesn't mean that everything's completely changed all at once (ie people haven't suddenly stopped wanting quiet spaces). (Last year I made a video with some of my library's students asking them what they liked about using the library, and a startling percentage said what they liked was that it was a nice quiet place to study.)

It's definitely illuminating seeing what people say about libraries online, though it occasionally feels like stalking. I've got an RSS feed of a search on tweets in New Zealand about libraries (due to the NZ ISP system I couldn't narrow it closer to my region). One recent one that is food for thought: "wondering why i'm being told to take a library course when i have been at uni for 3 years and know how to read a book". Hopefully the library course will answer that question...