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Crowdsource and engage

I crowdsourced this week’s post.  I asked (via Twitter/Facebook) library staff to tell me what their favorite technology is, and why.  Here’s most of what I got:

  • “I’m digging on Excel right now because I love turning lots of numbers into interesting little stories.”
  • “My favorite thing ever may be how my iPhone gives me the Internet all the time, including Google Maps.”
  • “Flickr cause I love sharing and viewing photos & it helps me recognize my online friends when I meet them in person.”
  • “Plain simple email because I can carry on conversations of significant depth and over time.”
  • “The book.  Still the most useful and efficient container for lengthy, complex and thought-filled content.”
  • “GPS.  Truly the one thing I can’t imagine living without anymore.”
  • “I love getting stats on # of clicks in tweets from bit.ly, and scheduling tweets using socialoomph (or hootsuite).”
  • “Cassie time/print management software.  Simple, low cost, works very well.”
  • “The book and Twitter.”
  • “Google Reader. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to downloading info directly into your brain, a la “The Matrix.” If I get a chance to check my feeds every day, chances are that I have at least a vague idea of what my patron/colleague/friends are talking about in current events.”
  • “Usually used in the smaller libraries, I like DeepFreeze for very easy PC lockdown.”
  • “VMWare or Virtual Box and LogMeIn.  Our web server is a virtualized machine, I can take a copy, run it on my desktop and test updates or whatever I want to try without worry.  LogMeIn lets me log onto my desktop from home.”
  • “PC Anywhere.  We use it to connect to any staff machine.”
  • “My Blackberry.  I can do so much with it and the one I have has wifi so I can check our wifi connections easier than I can with a laptop computer.”
  • “Open source:  Drupal, Gimp, Inkscape…”
  • “Digital cameras.  I had a Kodak Brownie when I was a kid and thought I was hot stuff (Now you know how ancient I am).  I love not having to go to the drugstore and pay for prints.”
  • “My Crackberry…I mean Blackberry.  I can access email, Google, Facebook, Twitter and much more.  I almost don’t need an actual computer.”

The answers I received were a good combination from both line staff librarians and library techs. Some of the answers surprised me;  Some of the techs loved some relatively low-tech things, and vice-versa.

What does this mean to me, Laura?

  • Obviously, technology was defined by the crowd in different ways.  I purposely left the parameters broad, and you can see the scope of what came back.  Answers ranged from the book to complex virtualization software, with all sorts of interesting things in between.  This is just a sampling of what might come back if we were to ask our library patrons what their favorite technology is.  Have you asked?  This might be a good question to pose via your library Facebook page or even through a simple paper-and-box voting system.  Engage your patrons!  The answers might surprise you.
  • What could you do with those answers? People are fascinated with how others answer polls (we always like to see how others responded/rated/reviewed; thusly, the success of the Amazon model).  Post the results online and in your library.  Make a cool infographic or a Wordle that you can display to your patrons.  Set up a book/materials display around the results.  Link to related books or pathfinders on your web site.  Advertise upcoming programs on technology-related topics.
  • Does engaging your patrons have to use technology topics?  Of course not.  This example, however, hopefully demonstrates how you can use crowdsourcing to more fully interact with patrons. After all, one of our goals as librarians is to connect people to the information that interests them.  Find out what interests them (and everyone else in your community) and connect them!  Polling and then doing interesting things so that polled patrons can interact with the results is a simple way to show your community that you care what they think and want to support their interests.

How else could you crowdsource and engage?

There is 1 comment

  1. I have a difficult time deciding which technology I like best (there are so many I find useful), so I’ll pick the microprocessor which makes almost all of the above answers possible.

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