Monday, March 26, 2012

enLIGHTened in Edinburgh

Well, after being irritated at not being able to find out when or what was happening with the enLIGHTen Edinburgh project (I eventually found an official blog), I ventured out after work one evening to see for myself what was on display. And it was PRETTY! Unfortunately, I only had my phone camera with me, so the pictures are not quite so pretty...

The most impressive was the one being projected onto the Royal Society of Edinburgh building, with text from Adam Smith:

"Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition"

The mapping meant that the images hugged the shape of the building, and fitted perfectly onto the pillars and balconies, with eye-catching colours contrasting with the pale stonework.

And the most confusing one was being projected in the windows above Waterstone's on George Street...most confusing because it wasn't turned off overnight, so I looked at the window at one point during the day, and saw a ghostly figure strolling across the glass! These lines came from the work of Robert Fergusson:

"...we aften find
The brawest drest want peace of mind,
While he that gangs wi ragged coat
Is weel contentit wi his lot."

Much nicer in the dark, than freaking me out during the day!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The apparently unsociable librarian

I'm the first to admit, I love social media stuff. I've been on Twitter for almost 5 years, I (slightly grudgingly) eventually joined Facebook around the same time, and have played with all sorts of thing in between, from Formspring to Pinterest.

However - my use of all those sites is almost exclusively personal (apart from Twitter, which is actually heavily weighted towards work-relevant networks). There's not actually much need that I can see to do anything involving social media in its current form for my own library service. I do enjoy reading about how academic and public libraries are furthering the use of their resources and exploring how to best use sites, using Facebook to inform users about events and service specifics, Twitter to respond to individuals, and Pinterest to collate interesting visual materials...but it just doesn't work in my situation.

As a corporate librarian, I'm in a very different position from a public or academic librarians, in relation to sharing resources. Those types of services are set up to spread information, and allow as many people as possible to benefit from their resources, partially because the people using the resources are also helping to fund them (either through tuition fees or taxation). In a corporate library, the employing organisation has invested from their own funds to create their own library service, and properly staff it. A lot of time and effort is spent in a corporate library to create resources that are tailored to the needs and demands of internal service users, and which are therefore a valuable business asset, and definitely not a thing which could be shared. Corporate libraries cannot be sociable outside their own body - their work is for the benefit of their own, internal users only, the exact reverse of the situation for public and academic libraries.

And if it were possible to use social media in a manner suitable for sharing externally (eg for marketing purposes, which the library may have involvement in), most of the social media sites are based on the model of free sharing, e.g. Pinterest (although this has its own copyright-infringement issues, due to the sites enabling of such easy online sharing), or sites which are free because they carry advertising. This throws up all sorts of issues for a firm - what if the adverts on a free site were for an offensive service/company, or for a competitor of a client? By having firm-linked material on the same page, we could look like we were endorsing a client competitor. What if we accidentally infringed copyright on Pinterest by using an image that seemed freely and legally available, but in reality wasn't? It could be a highly risky activity to be involved in.

Corporate library services basically have to be faceless, neutral, and non existent on social media.

So...don't think I'm being unsociable if I'm not joining in with these discussions and experiments, but just remember: for every interesting public use of social media, there's probably a corporate librarian watching it all, feeling frustrated that they can't join in with the fun stuff...

Any other library service types out there unable to be sociable?

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