Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


My Facebook About-Face

You may remember that I posted some weeks ago about the ill-advisedness of adults using Facebook. Now that I am actually using Facebook, I would like to make known my total & complete retraction of my previous position. Facebook rules, and I plan to speak with my department head, fellow YA librarians in my system, and our tech department about setting one up for my library.

Why does Facebook rock so hard? A few reasons:

  1. It is way, way easier to use and far less buggy than MySpace. I have a MySpace profile, but I am probably going to delete it because the site is so hard to use (for me, anyway -- this is obviously not a problem for the legions of users who remain devoted to it).
  2. Facebook is so easy to customize -- not so much how it looks, but what it does. There are applications for every conceivable way you might want to customize your experience.
  3. It is easier to find friends (both virtual & IRL ones), because signing up requires you to use your real name (or a close facsimile).
  4. On the other hand, it's easier to remain anonymous, too -- you can set your profile to stay out of search results, and no-one can see your profile unless you agree to be friends with them or send them a message (and even then, you can set your preferences so that certain people can only see portions of your profile).
  5. All in all, Facebook is a very useful way to develop and maintain loose connections with people (a type of relationship Malcolm Gladwell talks about in The Tipping Point) , and a way to nurture real-life relationships in a virtual space.

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Grown-Ups on Facebook: Bad Idea Jeans?

The NY Times has this nifty weekly column, called Cyberfamilias. I love that, in part because we sometimes call my Dad The Paterfamilias, and I just think working Latin words into everyday conversation is funny, and in part because our age is such a perfect one for portmanteaux. Also, every time I see a word ending in "-familias", I think of George Clooney in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? shouting about being the "Got-damned paterfamilias".

Where was I? Oh yes, Cyberfamilias. How appropriate that my introduction to the column was this gem, "omg my mom joined facebook!", which details the mortifying process of a mother of teenagers attempting to join her daughter's online world, only to be coolly and thoroughly rebuffed: "everyone in the whole world thinks its super creepy when adults have facebooks.”

Looking at my own anecdotal evidence, I'm starting to think she's right.

I have a MySpace, which I signed up for thinking it'd be a good way to keep in touch with the teens who use my library. Turns out the teens who use my library aren't all that interested in being friends with me on MySpace -- they're perfectly cordial in person, but they seem to regard The Internets as their world, not mine. At any rate, I haven't logged in since January, at least, and I don't foresee logging in anytime soon. I may delete it, I may not. Turns out, it's a nice way to find long-lost friends from high school.

I think what it comes down to is that often in libraryland, some of us who are into technology (and I am most certainly including myself in this category) suffer from what Marcus calls "Oooh, shiny!" Syndrome -- we are like magpies, hunting down and hoarding up anything new that we think we can use to better connect with our patrons. This is not intrinsically bad, but when we adopt a technology without thinking through how we're going to use it, or how much time it will take to make it yield the results we're hoping for, we are setting ourselves up to look really stupid.

I'm not arguing against experimentation, or trying things out, and certainly not against chucking our field-wide terror of Not Doing Things The Right Way. I'm just saying that just as "Oooh, shiny!"-itis is not intrinsically bad, neither are all of the nifty little (and not-so-little) technological innovations intrinsically useful for us.

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