Thursday, March 24, 2011

#libchat

Due to a cold that is making its way around the library and coworkers on spring break, I had the privilege of six uninterrupted hours at the circulation desk..

...It actually wasn't that bad. I was able to get a lot of school work done, and I had an hour and a half dedicated to the second weekly libchat on twitter, which helped the time fly by.

Started by Natalie Binder (@nataliebinder), wh0 offers an excellent explanation on her blog, Libchat is like a live mini-discussion with people who are interested in libraries and information management. But it is a discussion where location and geography doesn't matter.

It works like this like this: Folks tweet their questions to Natalie ahead of time. During the chat, every 20 minutes or so she shares a question. The rest is a pretty organic experience - like any other normal conversation -with people from all over sharing their answers, ideas and insights. And it's pretty fascinating to watch what happens.

However, it certainly isn't a perfect medium for having a conversation. What is most frustrating is the fact that it is twitter, and you only have 140 characters. So it is a little awkward and it can be hard to offer an answer when there are some pretty big questions raised. For Example:


Really? Where to begin...

Thankfully there were some great answers, such as @ValentineLuLu's:





Which leads us to the benefits of libchat. It was great to see all of the different topics raised in such a short amount of time. The quickness of the format got your mind churning about all of the different issues that libraries are having to deal with. It was also awesome having so many library students in attendance: we're already thinking about a multitude of issues from our different classes, libchat was an additional exercise to keep those ideas freshly flowing.

Along with the different ideas, it was great to see some themes emerge as well. Natalie asked:



Participants answer's revolved around user centered missions such as customer service and information access. Questions like this helped support my belief that no matter how much the industry evolves, our missions and core values will prevail. After all, Ranganathan developed the five laws of library science in the middle of the 20th century, and they are still relevant today.

I'm pretty excited about the potential libchat holds. It is an amazing way for the library community to connect, no matter where members are located. And it is going be to a great way for us to discuss the current issues and support each other as we weather the changes that keep us on our toes (was it a coincidence that the Harper Collins debate popped up in both this week and last week's chat? Of course not).

I really hope that these chats continue, they certainly seem to be picking up steam. Right now they are scheduled for Wednesday evenings at 8pm eastern time (5pm here on the west coast), and I hope to see you at the next one...

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