Saturday, March 03, 2007

Radical Mistrust

According to the recent Pew report called "A Portrait of 'Generation Next' : How Young People View Their Lives, Futures and Politics", more than 4 in 10 "Gen-nexters" have created a personal profile on a site such as Facebook or MySpace.

Contrast that fact with this one: out of the twenty libraries of the OCUL consortium, only one library provides profiles of all their liaison librarians on their website. McMaster, Guelph, Waterloo and Windsor have only two or three librarians who share a little information about themselves. This leaves the vast majority of Ontario academic librarians with only a email address and phone extension to endear themselves to their faculty and student constituencies.

One of way of reading this situation is to suggest that there is a serious lack of radical trust going on. That being said, it may also may be simply the result of web designers being consumed with connecting users with resources. Luckily, this is one technological problem that can be resolved with some attention.


Fichter said...


This is an interesting observation. How comfortable do you think academic librarians are with participating in online social networks as part of their day to day work?

I know in my own small Data Library group I needed to be a tiny bit persuasive to get my team to put up their photos. Some were a bit shy (no one at this point in time was concerned about security). So even adding a photo can be a big step for some.

I've think that it would be wonderful if public librarians would have a page that listed what they're currently reading or listening too. I think patrons would love it and find out who reads books like them ask for more recommendations.

I know when I visited the Bakka Science Fiction bookstore in Toronto, the first thing I looked for was the hand-written staff picks and their pithy reviews.

Cheers Darlene

Mita said...

Hey Darlene

I think one has to be more than 'tiny bit persuasive' in most libraries to get librarians to post photos of themselves on the web ;)

I think many librarians feel that providing (for lack of a better word) anonymous service is actually an ideal of sorts. I suspect many feel that it is a form of quiet humility. To others, it demonstrates that we appreciate privacy.

And yet, I'm sure these same librarians appreciate it when a faculty member has provided a detailed description of their research interests on a profile page.

Adding simple profiles of ourselves I think is a small step towards humanizing an the university as an institution (which intimidates most of us) while quietly letting others know a little about what librarians do. Other than read books.

You are the second librarian I've read this week who has suggested that librarians should list what they are currently reading.

So I took up your suggestion!