Thursday, July 9, 2009

25 Things 2.0 Can Do For Books

I read with interest this set of "musings" from Stephen Abram. While I am attending the ALA Conference this week and learning about many 2.0, or even 3.0 things, I thought this would be a good refresher on using new technologies to enhance your book collection.

While the title is 25 Things 2.0 Can Do For Books, I am going to break them into five chunks. It is hard to digest five things a day, let alone 25. Enjoy!

What have you done for a book lately?

You've probably done a lot! You've cataloged them so they can be found. You've made bibliographies so people can find other books they may like or need for research. You've recommended books to patrons and friends. You've written book reviews. Maybe you've done an index to a book, or edited one, or written one. You've done book talks. Great! Library folks have been doing this sort of stuff for centuries and doing it well.

We do books so well. We just can't get any better, any hotter, any more admired and loved!


I visit and see so many libraries - physical and virtual - and see so many innovations that excite me and promote books, reading and what we do so well. I also see a lot of folks who claim that new technologies are unnecessary in libraries and especially anything TwoPointOh! I fail to see the distinction and I don't think it's just me. Library practice demands that we look for anything that improves our mandates to promote learning, community, research, and reading.

Of course anyone can improve and do better. That's why we call it information practice. You just keep practicing as professionals - just like medical practice, nursing practice, teaching practice and accounting practice. Professionals get better, though never perfect, with practice. There's no denying that our traditional practice is a great thing. We protect, preserve and serve the human cultural and research record and connect users with the right books, at the right time, in the right place. That's awesome. Then again, good information practice thinking demands that we ask what are the negative issues with the traditional way we practice and how can we get better or complement it?

Traditional practice with books is not as scalable as we might want and our users might want. How do we get readers' advisory to scale as well in libraries as Amazon does on the web? Traditional practice offers a personal touch with a human being. Can we extend that personal touch beyond the walls? Many of our advisory and recommendation activities are largely anonymous or at least lack the personal branding that excites connections betweens readers and advisors. If we really care about books (and reading), can we use the new tools on the web to put our service options on steroids? Why 2.0? Well, because it offers the first real opportunity to use technology to go beyond search, storage and retrieval and actually engage with readers in a scalable way beyond our walls and beyond physical book formats.

25 Things 2.0 Can Do For Books, Just Books

  1. How are you doing Book Clubs now? Do you have support for print book clubs? Are there recommended books that you keep in a book club bag? Do you include a copy of the publisher's book club or reading guide in the bag? Do you link to good guides for book clubs on the web for all types of book clubs? What does the virtual book club support look like? Can they share reviews, comments, etc. online?
  2. Have you tried an audiobook club? Just license an audiobook for the whole community and let many folks read it at once. If you can't afford the license find one of the many book podcasts or audiobooks that are free on the web and add them to your collection. Have you tried a book club using e-books? Do you have a webpage with your top 12, 20, 30 eBooks and reading guides for each? This seems like a good way to get beyond the not-enough-copies problems.
  3. What are your web tie-ins to promote reading and book clubs? How big is your collection of reading guides, book club support, webliographies, blog posts, one-city-one-book ideas from other libraries? Can you mine these for ideas to promote parts of your collection like bestsellers from 2 years ago whose circ is are slowing down? Nothing is sadder than an unborrowed book except for a whole load of the same book taking up shelf space.
  4. Who takes Star turns at your library? Have you promoted with names and pictures specific staff or even the director? What would your Blogfluence score be in your community? Who is your Oprah? Are there different folks for teens, adults, kids, men, movies, etc.? Are their reviews and selections promoted inside the library and virtually? Can they be on a READ poster? Do they have personal web pages and social sites?
  5. How are you promoting eBooks for non-fiction? If you have a Books24x7 collection of technology eBooks, have you created a GeekZone club to promote the collection? Alternatively, can it be a Tech for Dummies/Idiots club or service for those who want help? How about car manuals online? What's the target market there? Think about your eBooks and use 2.0 promotion tools to get them used.

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