This is Circulating Ideas, I’m Steve Thomas. My guest today is Dr. Troy Swanson. He’s the teaching and learning librarian and the library department chair at Moraine Valley Community College outside Chicago. He’s also the author of a new book, Managing Social Media In Libraries.
Troy, welcome to the show and thanks for being on.
Thanks very much for having me, I appreciate it and I’m a big fan of the podcast.
Thank you. You’ve written a new book called Managing Social Media In Libraries and how it came to my attention was your post on Taming The Web. How did you get involved with Taming The Web and Michael Stephens?
It might even be murky for me to try, I mean I think basically we started blogging in 2004 which was fairly early for, for most libraries and Jenny Levine who worked in our regional library system, who’s now at ALA, did, does the Shifted Librarian blog. She really helped us get started and helped support us and she worked with Michael on a, on a few things and we were, I think, at an Internet Librarian presentation together and then from there we kept in touch and I. He was going through his dissertation and I was getting ready to do my dissertation and we shared some ideas and actually he was a big inspiration in some of my, the direction that I took in my dissertation and then after I’d finished, I’d, I was looking to get some information out there and he asked me to do some guest posts and it kind of just evolved from there. So, I’m, yeah, I’m a big fan of the writers on Tame The Web and obviously I think Michael is a, a big contributor to our profession, so. I owe a lot to him.
Who do you think is the main audience for your book?
Well I tried to keep it broad and I hope that I didn’t do damage by keeping it too broad. I mean I think there’s a lot of pieces of the book that apply to all libraries. I work at a community college library so obviously my experience on the job comes through I think in some parts. But I really went out of my way to try to also think about how public libraries work and spent a lot of time reading and looking at social media in public libraries and obviously talking to folks in social media and in person where I could so I tried to reach out with the, with a broad hand. I mean I think no matter where you are, you’re going to, with any book have to adapt the ideas in that book to your unique circumstance, so I think I wrote it with that assumption too.
And your, the post that you had written about the same idea was that you had said people had asked you what kind of, they wanted a social media plan for their library and your post was basically about you don’t need a social media plan.
Yeah, and in a, a lot of that, I don’t think you need a social media plan and some of that statement revolves around what you mean by plan. I mean it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t have a direction. Some organizations, a formal plan might be warranted, but I think the thing with social media is that it’s, there’s so much room for innovation and the more that you plan to have a real strict plan, so by this point we’re going to be doing whatever, we’re going to be writing about this, is you can really clamp down on innovation and so I think it needs to be approached with the playfulness of it that grows new ideas. But on the other hand it can’t be a total free for all, so there’s a balance in there and I know some people are critical of my statement that you don’t need a plan thinking that you don’t need anything. That’s not really what I meant. So it, I think there’s some structure that needs to be in place around social media, but I think it’s a difficult thing to really plan out, who knows where you’re going to be in two or three years because it changes so quickly. So you need to be prepared to meet those changes as new technologies arise, or new needs within your service population come up.
Right, it kind of ties into the idea that you talk about in this and also in another paper that I read that you’d written about “Loose Coupling.” Can you talk about what that concept?
Yeah and that’s a concept that’s been around for a while, especially in higher ed research, it’s from the organizational psychologist Karl Weick, he’s at Michigan, I’m a big fan of his work and I know David Lankes who was on the podcast a while back and his Atlas of New Librarianship references some of his research, so it was good to see. Often the best way to describe what is a loosely coupled system is the, to think about what a tight system is and a classic tight system would be the assembly line model, where you have inputs that come in at the beginning, everyone the assembly line has a job and then you have an output at the end and if someone along the way doesn’t do their job, the tight system falls apart. Where a loosely coupled system is a system that offers services where the inputs and outputs aren’t as closely tied together and a loose system, the nice thing about a loose system, they, the advantage I think of the loose system is that it’s easily adaptable and that new ideas can start in one pocket of the system and then spread throughout the rest of the system and I think a lot of libraries, especially around reference, are, are definitely the classic loosely coupled system where you have a service that you operate off in seven days a week, you get many people who are performing that service, you’d like some level of consistency between that service, but each individual person that you’re serving may come up to your reference desk, as an example, will have a very unique need. And so it’s hard to make a tight system around that, the people in the system are necessarily going to have to adapt that service to meet the unique need that stands before them. So the challenge with the loose system is that, is that as we were, we’re constantly making this new knowledge but it’s very difficult to then share that knowledge across the systems, like in my library I have, there’s 22 librarians that work our reference desk seven days a week and we’re open from 7 in the morning until 10 at night and there’s never one point in time that all of us can come together and share our knowledge that we’re creating all the time. So, we try to use social media in our library as a way, even if no-one else in the world looks at our blogs and our Facebook page, we at least use it as a way to share internally, for us to teach ourselves what we, we can’t be together.
We have other mechanisms to do that as well, but the, the challenge of a loosely coupled system is how do we coordinate together to make decisions and to offer services that make sense. And then when that new innovation is hit upon by one member of our system, how does that person communicate the innovation out to everybody else and put it into practice? And I think that’s something challenging growth that we have in libraries.
Right, you talk in the book about that you have some people who maybe are weekend people and they don’t ever meet the people who work at night and so you have people who are on your staff that never meet each other.
Yes and, and I’m the department chair for our professional staff and so I’m in touch with everybody all the time, but every so often it will come up and one of our librarians will say, “Oh, I, I’ve never met you before” when two librarians will meet and it will hit me, oh yeah, right. She works at this time of night and she works during the day and they never come together except for maybe a random meeting now and again.
Yeah, and most people don’t usually talk about it, that’s what I found interesting about your book is that most people don’t talk about the internal uses of social media. Almost everybody’s talking about pushing, pushing it out to our communities and things like that.
Yeah, absolutely and the, the work getting it out to our, the people we serve is obviously number one. But I kind of think they go hand in hand together, I, we, I have, we have, let’s see, six or seven NLS level folks who do cataloging for us and they’re, they might be there the same time as a lot of our public service people, but they don’t work together closely, but the, all of our materials are physical materials for sure are coming through the hands of these catalogers and I really encourage them to write about them on our blogs. Partly to inform our public services folks about new materials that might be of interest, but obviously that blog post goes out to all our community and that’s a huge benefit to get this knowledge that’s kind of locked away in those backrooms of your library out to the people that might find it useful. So, I think there’s this dual purpose that social media can have and even if we’re not getting huge amounts of people following us on Facebook, which may or may not happen, at least focusing internally at first is a great way to grow content, encourage usage of by all of your staff and I probably have over, almost all of our librarians are writing on our blog, that’s 20+ folks and I talk to different librarians at conferences and they say there’s two of us, how do I get that, how do I grow that number? And there’s challenges in that, but giving them that internal focus may be a way to take some of those first steps.
You have a whole section of the book about motivating employees to use social media cause sometimes when you roll some out some new service to people who are reluctant to get out there, put themselves out there and aren’t sure how to get involved.
Yes, you know for my research, I did research on blogs for my PhD and I did interviews of, of bloggers and I expected to find, and maybe this reveals some of my bias, but I expected to find the heavy-handedness of the administrators. You can’t post this, all these strict rules and in, and in some places that I went I actually found the opposite where there were no rules and the administrators that I interviewed were, “Ahhh, we trust, up on reference old Bob works up there, he’s great, we trust him, he can just post.” And then I would talk to the bloggers and they would reveal this fear that because there’s lack of definition from their supervisors, they’re actually scared to put their neck out on the line, like I don’t know how my bosses see this tool being used in our organization. So, I was a little surprised and that’s why I really think this balance idea is important. We can’t have, I was afraid that the fear of anarchy would mean there’d be all these rules that stamped out innovation within organizations, but I found the opposite in many cases where the lack of rules caused fear from the frontline staff, that they were scared to use it because they didn’t get how it could actually be used, or how the bosses, what the bosses see, see this, see the value in these tools. So I think there’s a need for both sides, we need some rules, we need some guidelines and this is how we see this moving forward, but not to go too far where you stamp other possible innovations that may come along.
Yeah, you talk about setting up social media guidelines and some best practices and things like that just to get, as a sort of a guide post.
Yeah, as a pot, as a way to just get that conversation going. I’ve written in a few different places about this idea of the, there’s a conundrum of control that organizations face. Where if we have too much control then there’s not adaptability and if it’s too little control, then you do risk some bad decisions. Like you can have people moving on, you don’t, you don’t want people out there talking about their religious, political, I don’t know, insulting kinds of views, there’s a risk there. So you want to get some reasonable approaches to it, but also the lack of definition can cause a, a, stagnation of fear of use around some of these tools so you’ve got to find a way if you’re a manager of a department, or a director of a library to offer some balance between too loose and too tight.
Right, cause you, you, as you said you don’t want people going crazy, but then you also don’t want people doing.
One comparison in your book that I really liked is that you compared social media to the microwave and it was something that we didn’t know that we wanted it before we knew about it and then once we had it, it’s not ever going to go away cause it’s too important to us now.
Right, well and there’s, there’s this roasted, it’s kind of a, I think along the discussion with the, the Blockbuster video rental issue.
No one knew that they wanted Netflix and that Blockbuster did such a great job, they were being the great Blockbuster and if you would have interviewed their, their customers, they never would have said, “Hey, send me DVDs in the mail,” but someone figured it out and then all of a sudden, they had that innovation, pulled it out from under them. So, I mean I think there’s some risk in that and we need to be figuring out if our users are just wanting fiction, well there, there maybe a whole other community out there that we’re missing so we can serve those users really amazingly well and then we’re missing this other group and I, and there’s a lot of conversation in library circles along those lines that’s for sure and useful ideas on how to bridge that, but I think as a, thinking organizationally, we need to always be encouraging innovation because it’s our people in our staff that, that can see those opportunities so we need structures that encourage that to happen, or sometimes lack of structures, thinking about that balance.
And that sort of ties into what you talked about later in the book is about the idea that books are just a brand of libraries as the world is changing somewhat away from that, even if it’s from physical books to e-books, things like that and you talk about how social media’s a way that we can help transition to new things.
Yeah that’s right, I think we have a, there’s good and bad. I mean I love that library’s are branded with books as I think books are still important and I’m a, obviously a big fan of books, but I don’t read that many physical books any more and so I think we obviously know the challenges of getting beyond that brand. You know I go to some library sites and I see, “Here’s our book blog.” Well, just by calling it the book blog, you’re tying it and I think libraries need to be about ideas and that we should, this should be our ideas blog and if that idea comes out of a book, great and if it comes from a YouTube video that’s free on the web, great and if it comes from wherever we should be focused on the ideas that are important and our community and the idea of new librarianship, I think that Lankes is really pushing out there, I’m an absolute believer and I think that that idea moves us forward. One idea I mentioned in my book which references the Atlas is this idea of what is your library’s curriculum? And in our library that’s a natural thing because we work in a college setting. I don’t know if that’s always so common in other library settings and so that, to me, brings you back to that focus on ideas and not things, or even websites, right? I mean it’s the idea of what are the ideas that are important to the people we serve and how do I best foster the growth of new ideas in my community and I, I think social media isn’t the only answer to that, but it definitely plays a role.
It’s also important, I think that, and you talk about this a little bit, that management really needs to be involved and invested in any kind of social media that we do.
Yes, yeah, there’s, I, there’s no question I, and I think as time is going on the lack of connection or lack of recognition from our directors is, is not as prevalent as it was. I think if you went back five or six years ago, there’d be a few lone bloggers in the library and then everyone else would be, “What is this again? Why are we, why are we doing this?”
And I think people are seeing the impact more and more, but it’s hard if you’re the, it’s hard to jump silos within the organization and that’s the role of administration. So, that department head level or beyond, those are the people that need to look within their department and say, “This librarian is doing great work and someone else in the neighboring department could value that work,” and to connect those people together. So even if, we may not want our directors becoming our lead bloggers. We know the directors are busy enough, but they should also be the people that see an idea in one area and connect that idea to another area within our organization. So, in smaller libraries, smaller organizations, this idea sharing is, it can be easier, but the larger the organization, the more spread out and distributed that it is. It can be challenging to just share, for one hand to know what the other hand is doing. I, there is the conversation not too long ago about the, about Yahoo! ending the work from home policy?
And I think that there’s a lot of interesting aspects to that. I think there’s some questionable impact it’s going to have, especially on women and that’s where a lot of the conversation is had. But, I heard one commentator say part of that decision was that the, that the accidental meeting of somebody in the lunchroom line that actually fosters innovation. You don’t do that when you’re both at home, right and maybe there’s ways you can do it online, but the accidental bumping into somebody in the hallway, “Hey, how you doing? What are you working on?” That’s where innovation comes from. The innovation is messy and innovation happens with sloppiness in play and so efficiencies in organizations is a great way to destroy innovation sometimes. So, I, I think there’s, there’s also that, like the, the administrator’s structure needs to foster innovation, we also need to make incidental contacts happen all around us, so.
And that kind of ties into the idea of, that you write about, of David Weinberger’s ideas of more flattening the organization out or spreading the information, not making it so top-heavy.
Yeah, exactly, I, yeah, I’m a big fan of Weinberger’s work. His book “Everything Miscellaneous” is, I think every librarian, even though it’s a few years old right now, need to absolutely have that on your shelf, or on your iPad, or Kindle. And I mention a couple of times in the book that you can tell my reading list by the people I reference as I write. But, yeah, the, flattening the structure is really important and making those incidental contacts come up. In groups I think there’s two main challenges that groups face and that’s a, there’s co-operation problems and there’s coordination problems and so. Co-operation problems focus around the willingness of people to do things, so sometimes that’s more interpersonal kinds of problems. But, co-ordination problems come from the, the challenge of both the ability of people to align their actions with the actions of other people and I think when we are using social media across an organization, it does help the coordination game. So when my, the example I used earlier of the catalogers writing up a blog post about a book and then a public service librarian seeing that and knowing that it’s on the shelf, then that is, that helps solve some kind of co-ordination problem within my library because the, the knowledge from one unit is moving to another unit.
Cooperation problem is a whole different challenge, but I think there’s a role for social media in making coordination happen within the group. And that goes back to that internal use of the, of the tools.
And, and I think probably the most important thing, the core thing is that if you’re using social media in libraries, which I think at this point is almost required.
Right [laughs] yeah.
But you, that you don’t go in in a messy way, that you, you define your purpose and you find, you find some focus before you step into it.
Yeah and I think there’s a balancing act. I mean there’s a, there’s room for playing around and there’s room for doing the kind of soft release where you know if your library’s not using Pinterest, maybe a few people are just messing around with it, you don’t make a big deal out of it and you see, see what works and then you figure out a focus in that way. And sometimes it’s seeing a clear focus and diving in and using it just for that focus. We the last couple of years really put a big effort into, we do a lot of public events in our library, a lot of lectures and panel discussions with our faculty and sometimes outside guests enrich the curriculum and we have decided, we haven’t done a whole lot with YouTube in our library, but we did a big push to try to capture lectures via YouTube because we have so many students who have jobs and are new to students and so we wanted to capture that physical event that happened and then distribute it online so our YouTube usage has been very focused on this one goal and we knew the goal before we really were diving into it. Where as we started blogging, the use of our blogs, even though they’re just blog posts, but we’ve evolved to, from we’d do reviews, we’d write up something that happened at the reference desk, there’s a lot of different kinds of uses we write about for our blogs where the YouTube had that focus from the beginning so. I mean I think the thing with, that libraries should remember is that you don’t want to over plan. One of Michael Stephens’ mantras “don’t over plan” and stop the innovation from happening before it starts.
You’ve talked a little bit about Michael Stephens and David Lankes and David Weinberger. Is there anybody else in particular that is an inspiration to you in a professional way?
Well, there’s, those are definitely some of my big ones. There’s a tonne of others. I really am a big fan of Jason Griffey. Some of the folks you’ve had on here, Jan Holmquist is doing really great work, Buffy Hamilton’s out there. There’s great people in Information Literacy, wear a few different hats. Lisa Hinchcole up at Illinois and ACRL and Information Literacy kind of spheres. She’s a big leader and someone I’m in touch with, so. The great thing with community college libraries is that you’re forced to, I play a technology role, I play an instructional role, public service role so there’s a lot of hats that I wear which is part of the fun of my job. I think community college libraries are not heralded enough in the, the library, especially not in academic libraries, but libraries in general and we do a lot of outreach with the local library schools to bring students in to show off what we do.
To me we’re academic focused, we’re, we, we are the gateway to scholarship for a lot of students who are first generation college students. We have a role that’s similar in some ways to a public library, we know our service area very well, we have a defined district that we serve and we know our public librarians very well, so there’s this public library feel in some way, but we definitely are focused on our curriculum and we are. To me we are the, the voice for scholarship in some ways on our campus and I don’t mean that in a, in a derogatory way toward community colleges, but we. Community colleges for faculty members, you’re not required to publish, our faculty really focus on teaching, they’re great teachers and they do good work and they’re in touch with, with their disciplines for sure, but we’re often the ones that are lifting up, what is the role of the scholar? What is the role of pure review? We do a lot of those kinds of conversations on our, on our campus and it’s great and, and some days I, I’m doing social media work and I’m uploading videos to YouTube, other days I’m out organizing events, there’s community work and there’s some weeks where I’m just in the classroom all week doing instruction and that’s, that’s the thing that I love is there’s just so much variety and as soon as you’re getting burnt out in the one area, something new’s about to come your way. So, it’s a place that I think you can really transform yourself and make innovation happen easily and I, I’m a big fan and I’ve worked at Moraine Valley Community College, just giving them a shout out, it’s a great organization and I, I’m really fortunate to have been here for as long as I have.
Yeah, I think if I ever, I’d worked in academic libraries earlier in my career and the one that I liked I think the most was a local community college just because, and that helped my transition I think into a public library because that was more about what, just the kind of stuff you’re talking about where it’s more, I don’t want to say everyday people, but more who knows what’s going to happen today.
Oh, yeah, exactly.
And I mean there’s certain, there’s other challenges obviously to academic libraries, but that’s what I loved is that I had no idea what’s going to happen. [laughs]
Well and you know, don’t, the whole academic, the scholarly enterprise, we need our senior research institutions, we need the people writing the great theoretical works and I absolutely appreciate that, there’s huge value in the breakthroughs that research institutions do, so I’m, I’m glad that they exist and I don’t want to work for them. I, I remember one day, this day always sticks in my mind, one day I was literally sitting down with a student who was in one of our pre-college level classes, helping him write what is an introductory sentence to a paragraph and helping him them write supporting sentences and then I turned around on the reference desk and I was helping someone in a business class pull up SEC filings for this paper they were writing and the variety is huge. This fall I had a student come in with this look of fear in his eyes, I wrote about this on Tame The Web, and I, I was wondering what kind of question I’m going to get out of this and, and he had a tie in his hand and he said, “I have a job interview, I’ve never learned how to tie a tie, can you help me?” [laughs] And I was wearing a tie so I said, “Yeah, sure, come on.”
So I untied my tie and we stood at the reference desk and I showed him how to tie a knot in a tie so he could go on this job interview. And one of the other librarians was standing there and she was, “That was the coolest thing I think I’ve seen in a library in a long time.” So it still brings a smile to my face. So it’s a great environment to be and I think the application of technology, I think our library drives innovation in a lot of different ways on our campus, we’re a place that fills in gaps, we’re a place that connects faculty members to each other, so I, I’m a big believer not just in our library, but in community colleges in general.
Yeah, every once in awhile I do a, I don’t know if I should admit this publicly, a search on the web just for, about the podcast to see who’s talking about it and whatever and one of the things that came up was I was so excited that the community college in this town that I grew up has it listed as a resource for librarians. [laughs]
[laughs] yeah, yeah and I.
I didn’t go to that school, but it was just exciting for that, for where I great up.
Right, yeah, absolutely, I, you know it’s, I, I don’t mean to go too far away from libraries, but when I started here a lot of our founding faculty members were still working and for them, who started this college in the 60s, there was a real movement behind community colleges and bringing higher ed to everyday people and it, it’s sad that to some degree that movement feeling has gone away, but also a recognition that everyone in general, I don’t know if I can say everyone nationwide, but in general most people have their community college, like they, we have a, it’s your public library, there’s just an assumption that you have a community college and I think that’s a huge step for the concept of what a community college is. Now how well they fund them and all the other challenges that we face may be a different kind of discussion, but the, the people feel ownership of their community college, I think that’s a powerful idea and a powerful that higher education is connected to communities and that’s the thing that I love about it and I’ve found my philosophy about being a librarian and the, the values that we discussed when I was in library school was a perfect fit for the, the idea of open access education in community colleges.
So, you’re going to be on the task force for updating the information literacy competency standards for higher education for ACRL?
I know you haven’t really gotten started with that so you can’t really talk about that specifically, but is there anything that sort of in your mind go, as you’re going to go into this that you think specifically needs to be updated in competency standards?
Well, the committee is just getting started and we’re really at the e-mail distribution lists level of introducing ourselves.
Right, the early days.
Yeah and there’s some good papers that are out there on the ACRL website, some white papers that have been put out. The work that was done in 99 with these most recent standards, I think first off I just want to say is, has been invaluable to our library, I mean I think the idea of having a document that focuses our profession’s understanding of information literacy is, is really important and it gives us, even though, even though there’s always going to be, no matter what you write, there’s going to be problems with it and it’s not going to work in all settings, so there’s going to be room for debate and looking at what’s wrong with it, but that discussion itself I think is valuable. I mean I think we’ve come a long way in what the, just web world we live in means from where we were in the late 90s and I think that the discussion of where does digital literacy fit in this, what are the ideas of transliteracy, what are the other kinds of literacies that, that come from this, how does informational literacy touch on those I think is essential. For me, my big thing is I would love a set of standards that are, are more guideline based, that can be used to connect to disciplines so that when I walk into the psychology department, I have a set of standards that can easily be molded to meet their needs and have a basis of conversation. The, I also think I’d like to see some discussion that touches a little bit more on how students think of themselves as content creators, some less skills things, do stuff A to get to stuff B. But what does it mean as a iterative learning environment that, that the students see themselves in and that kind of 21st Century learner approach I think is important. Beyond that I’m still, I mean I’m really honored to have been asked to be on the committee, I’m still trying to absorb a lot of this and Trudy Jacobsen and Craig Gibson who’s the, the co-chairs are just, they’re light years ahead doing great work and so I’m hoping to be a good voice for community colleges and to be offer, hopefully some useful input as we go forward. I think that any role this summer will be the first kind of meetings to get things moving forward. It’s interesting to me that I’ve written this book about social media and then my research has been in social media, but some of the first stuff that I was writing as a professional was focused on information literacy and we live and breathe information literacy in my library and so I think it’s, it’s absolutely vital and that’s how we should think about ourselves. In each year our library, along with a couple of other libraries in Illinois, we host the Information Literacy Summit for Illinois and we bring together librarians from all walks of librarianship, from higher ed, K12 and many public libraries and I’ve been very interested to see the interest that public librarians have had in thinking about what is information literacy in their roles on the job and as educators in their communities and so I think these standards obviously have a higher end focus, but there’s no doubt they reach out in much broader ways than just teaching library have an informational literacy research sessions for writing classes and the information overload world that we’re in, information literacy is just vital, so.
Do you find ACRL to be useful to you and as a professional and ALA and other professionals organizations?
Yeah absolutely. I think that ALA and I’m a, I should admit my biases. When I was, I went to library school at Dominican which is outside of Chicago and I had the fortunate experience of doing a practicum at ALA’s library with Mary Jo Lynch who’s since retired. So I’ve worked with the organization, I know the people, some of the people are still there who were there when I worked there. I’ve always been a big believer in ALA and ACRL. There’s a certain amount of inefficiency, just with the size and the scope of trying to serve the, the range of different things that libraries do and I, I think that as a profession, there is professionals that are sometimes a little critical of, of the work, but seeing the staff and how hard they work and the amount of people they serve and things that they do with the numbers of people they have, I, I’m always in awe of what they, of what they do. More and more as, as a profession we need a voice in terms of lobbying, in terms of giving us focus and especially in some of the e-book discussions there’s ways, we can be critical of some of the things that and we should be, we should embrace our voices. But, ALA is trying to step forward and, and represent us and I think that’s, that’s so important. There’s times you go and you write your membership check and it, it’s kind of off a little bit when you have to your dues, but I still believe it’s money well spent and I will admit that at different times in my professional career I had skipped my membership so I, I, there’s time where you have to make some rough choices, but when finances get better then I’ve done that, I’ve tried to keep my dues up as I, as much as I, all the times because I think it does matter, it really does.
And it’s almost the time when you resubscribe to the time you have, you sit back and think about why am I a part of this and that helps motivate me to write the check every year cause [laughs]. I think making sure, I feel like it is worth it to me and if it is worth it to me I will resubscribe and I have for 10 plus years now.
Oh yeah, well it, going to conference and getting that one idea and making that connection, it, I think a great thing that I had that I love about just being in libraries and higher ed is that we’re not competitors with each other, but we’re all partners in this larger endeavor and all the time we’ll call our local, our peer community colleges, especially in the Chicagoland area, I mean I know most of the librarians that are in community college libraries who are in our region and to just be able to call and say, “Hey, what are you guys doing with this?” is super great, or, “Hey, can our, can our systems librarian drop by your library just to touch base on what’s happening?” It’s, it’s a real value that we have these connections and can share ideas because we’re all fighting the same fight in the grand scheme of things.
Right. You talked a little bit about, in a different post on Tame The Web, about how you’re reading has changed?
One thing that’s interesting for us is that I, I’m really, we’re, we’ve been really watching the e-book debates happening, but in our library we don’t provide Overdrive. We have some e-book collections that through Ebsco, but the kind of things that we do in the community college library, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to drag our feet a little bit on diving in, especially with fiction for e-books.
And so my main experience with the, with the library e-books has been using my local public library which I might, I love the work that they do, I checked out this book and I, with the kids at home most of my reading time on my iPad comes at lunch, sometimes at night, not as often as I’d like and my other number one reading time is in my car driving to work on audiobooks, I do tons of audiobooks, but yeah I was, I barely got through chapter one, it was Thomas Van’s 1492, 1493?
Or whatever, yeah, 1493 and it vanished, I just, it kind of hit me with a three week check out period and I think I could have gone and renewed it, I’m never going to be able to finish this book and, at least with the physical book if I was willing to pay up the fines I could at least hang onto it. [laughs] But this experience of the vanishing book was, was new, this other world, I’m just gonna, this big hand reaches in and just takes it away from me, so. Yeah, it’s just these fascinating times that we, that we live in that’s for sure.
Yeah, I’m disappointed sometimes if I open up my Kindle and it’s, it’s on the page it was at before, but I try to go to the next page and then it tells me loan ended or whatever.
Well, I should say, from, the publisher should realize so I check this book out from my library and I, I got to through the first chapter and I loved it, I’m, I need to, I want to read this book, so I actually went to, I think I went to iTunes and bought it on audio, or maybe I used Audible, I use a lot of different things for audiobooks, but I ended up buying it and, and I, it was well worth the money for me to pay for it, download it to my iPod and then listen to it in my car on my drive to work and then I could take my time going through it, but the library did offer value for me that I could at least see the book, read through it, skim over it, get into it and then when it disappeared I went out and bought it and if I didn’t like the book I probably wouldn’t have purchased it or stressed about it, or written about it on Tame The Web.
Right, I mean all the studies always show that that correlation is there between e-book, between libraries and e-books, they’re all going, people who use libraries buy more books, but publishers still seem afraid of libraries, so.
Yeah, right, well and I, I think library loan does that too, with my book I donated a copy to my library to be put on the shelves and because, of course, I’m sure all my staff are going to read every single page.
No, but, so our library loan person said, “Hey, I think Michael Stephens did a little review on Tame The Web,” and all of a sudden we had 80 interlibrary loan requests and she was, “Do you really want me to interlibrary loan your book?” And I was, “Yeah, go, do it, do it, send it out and let people, let people use it and.” Because I really do believe that as people look at it, getting the word out there about it, that’s the, those are the kinds of things that drive sales. Me hoarding it and putting it here, I didn’t write the book just for the money obviously because it’s not why anyone who writes in this kind of stuff knows all this money hidden in there. But, yeah, get it out there, let people get it in their hands and let people talk about the ideas and I think that’s the most important thing and that’s going to drive more people to want the book than just hiding it away and protecting it, so. And I don’t, I don’t think publishers are quite there yet.
Well, how, you, so you wrote a book about social media, how can people find out more about you on social media?
Yeah, the, the easiest way to probably get me is on Twitter, I’m pretty active on Twitter. It’s @t_swanson. You can find me on Facebook if you want to search, Tame The Web is probably my number one online hangout place, I don’t have my own personal blog. It’s interesting that I don’t have as much personal exposure out there, I use Tame The Web as my outlet and then Twitter is my other main one.
All right, well Troy, thank you so much for talking to me, I found it really important. I’ve had people on the show before talking about social media, but your book really had a lot of stuff in it that was different, especially all the internal social media stuff, so I hope some people learned some new things about social media today.
Steve, thanks for having me, I, I enjoy the podcast and you’re doing great work and I think this is a really valuable forum for discussion for our profession, so I, I hope you’ll keep it up and I know it’s a challenge with the job and everything else, so thank you for doing this.