A few weeks ago I mentioned the potential of creating a branded environment. I have an example now of how we’ve failed our students in this regard. A patron who is a friend of the Library wanted to start a book club. We supported her giving her space and permission to post some flyers in the elevators and then pretty much got out of the way.
She started the book club using a Facebook Group and got about 20 members to join. Yet now she are taking it off FB and moving it to Google Groups. I asked her why and she responded:
“We think it will be easier to discuss things, for one thing… facebook doesn’t really give you a lot of room so it’s hard to read replies. Also, a lot of people don’t check facebook regularly so we miss out on getting people updates easily. Those are the two main reasons… it just seemed that Google groups would work better.”
I like that they are evolving as they assess their needs but I wish that we or someone else on campus was able to provide an online space for them. This is what I mean by creating a branded environment. A collaborative space with lots of tools that students can use to be productive. Merging the campus portal concept, with registration, the library, the course management system, some social software, etc. NCSU captures this spirit by giving students blogs and wikis, but I’d like to see a bigger enterprise, a central place with lots of tools and information that students actually use.
Another example: I’m working on an article and a presentation now with two of my colleagues and we’re using all the Google tools, but it would be great to be able to have something more customized and centralized for our needs. A place to share data and pdfs, a place to ask each other questions and have threaded discussions, a place to collect photos, video clips, and other components, and something that integrates with our databases. I have a feeling our students would like this too since collaboration and teamwork is a big push these days.
That’s what I mean about creating a branded environment. I don’t think it’s something that a library can do alone, but requires participation with others on campus. Giving them content is easy, but giving them tools to do stuff, that’s the real challenge.