Who we are ....

I was pretty interested to see this panel on the home page of the Kelvin Smith Library at Case.

casestaff.png

In recent presentations I have been noting that while we are increasingly used to seeing 'signed' network resources, library websites are often very anonymous.

Think of reviews, ratings, social networking profiles, shared bookmarks. People have become entry points on the network, and signature is important. [1]

However, think of library websites. They tend to be anonymous. Often, it is not straightforward finding appropriate contact points: there may not be photographs, or communication options are limited (office hours, IM, texting, email, phone). Library services are not always associated with people. How often do subject pages, for example, carry a name and contact information who can be consulted? Libraries promote their expertise, but do not always make experts visible.

My colleague Lynn Connaway has noted how students are sometimes reluctant to use virtual reference because they do not want to interact with somebody who remains anonymous or who they do not know, even if it is a library service. [2]

Putting faces to names, as Case is doing, is important, I think ....

[1] I heard the phrase ‘people are entry points’ used by Dan Chudnov at a meeting and thought it very relevant. See also this interesting presentation at the CIC Library Conference, Minnesota, March 2007, which reinforced for me the importance of ‘signature’. Cody Hanson. ‘ Next Generation Librarians: Visions of Our Future.’ http://codyhanson.com/CodyHansonCIC032007.ppt.
[2] Lynn Silipigni Connaway and Marie L Radford, 2007. “Service Sea Change: Clicking with Screenagers Through Virtual Reference.” Presented by Lynn Silipigni Connaway and Marie L. Radford at the Association of College and Research Libraries 13th National Conference, “Sailing into the Future – Charting Our Destiny,” 29 March – 1 April 2007, Baltimore, Maryland (USA), and forthcoming in the conference proceedings. Pre-print available online at: http://www.oclc.org/research/publications/archive/2007/connaway-acrl.pdf,

Note: yes, I know, footnotes are a bit much ;-)

Comments: 1

Nov 08, 2008
Rachel Bruce

Just to say I totally agree. I'm often frustrated with the lack of named contacts on library sites and that is just looking up a contact for my work. So I have often thought what do students/academics think? Library sites are not very welcoming places. I'm sure there are actually a lot of parallels that can be drawn with the physical library space too (although I note many have changed/are changing).

Thanks for the links ( footnotes :-) ).