Info Skills Needed By Digital Librarians

I’ve been holding this article open in my tab browsers for awhile. The author references Tony Hirst’s workshop where I found the following question interesting and not discussed about in my classes so far:

Should the Library be able to help researchers develop their online profiles/reputations within online environments? If so, how? If not, why not?

So far my classes have only been approaching libraries from a traditional approach of spitting out either quick reference answers, making up bibliographies, or pointing people in the direction to find materials. We haven’t began thinking outside the box of how to help researchers become engaged in finding each other. Honestly, this was something I hadn’t even thought about. I’ve been reading several Social Media books (like Social Media 101 and Friends With Benefits) but mostly from the perspective of how can I improve the websites I’m working on presence in the social networking world. I’m taking a library marketing class this fall, but I wonder if my professor even has a good grasp on the importance of making libraries socially engaging online yet.

However, if libraries are going to be offering classes on basic computer know-how and job hunting skills, it only makes sense that we also have a go-to reference on how to teach people that the best thing about the Internet is social collaboration. I wrote my senior article for my high school newspaper on the importance of the Internet in facilitating ongoing communication when people move apart (and this was pre-Facebook and before I’d ever heard of Myspace). While people are looking for Web 2.0 and busy worrying about what makes Web 2.0, librarians should realize that it’s been happening for years already and we should be prepared in helping our users get connected too.

So far my main sources of integrating Web 2.0 technologies into my life has been because of the two websites I’m working on. One is a more traditional website whose social appeal currently is because it is built using WordPress and social bookmarking tools while the other is a community website. I have had to learn how to create database fields which can be used in a Google map as well as build a forum all while using Drupal as the content management system (CMS). I feel that I have a long way to go in meeting the needs of users. My digitalization internship promises me the chance to work more in Flickr and using the library’s databases. I look forward to learning how to use these social collaboration tools for a wider audience than my current party of one, but I still think there needs to be a bigger emphasis in library science schools that digitalization are skills needed by all librarians and not just the ones upstairs building websites.

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