Thursday, October 25th, 2007

OCLC Social Networking Report

The OCLC report Sharing, Privacy and Trust in Our Networked World is out. It’s long and tedious, but skimable and with an interesting core.* Some highlights:

  • Library directors are much more web savvy than the general public, yet much less likely to use social networking sites.
  • Almost every category of website usage has gone up, except library catalogs, which went down.
  • Few of any group think “it should be the library’s role to build social networking sites for your community.” The question seems flawed—as if libraries are really going to build social networking sites—but it’s still depressing.
  • There’s a good half-disussion, including Sarah Houghton-Jan (Librarian in Black), Michael Sauers, Henry Bankhead (Los Gatos) and Meredith Farkas (Information wants to be free).

I suppose I’m (very) biased, but I’m puzzled how they managed to write 280 pages, with large sections on social networking, social networking in libraries and libraries’ future in social networking, without mentioning LibraryThing or any of its competitors.** (I’m not arguing bias, since they could easily have mentioned our competitors and not us!)

Color me crazy, but the rapid and—in tune of the report’s international focus—international spread of LibraryThing and other sites (more than 45 at last count) is a much more interesting and powerful demonstration of the potential of book-based social networking than the wan factoid “As of September 2007, MySpace reports 197 online groups with ‘book club’ in the title.”!

More on Stephen’s Lighthouse, Shifted Librarian, Lorcan Dempsey, YALSA, Resource Shelf.

In other news, OCLC released a new logo. Does anyone else see this and hear “glug glug glug”?

*One meta impression: I can’t get over all the photos of pretty, well-scrubbed, orthodontically-correct and racially-balanced un-people which, to large and impersonal organizations suggests a “human touch.” It makes me want to take a camera down to my local library and capture something authentic—someone tired, stressed-out, unshaven, pimply, pierced, maladjusted, unhealthy, decrepit or drunk.* It makes me want to hold up a sign that reads “I’m ugly. And I read.”
**There is one glancing mention by Nicolas Morin, but unlike all the other sites I found—ReadItSwapIt!—LT didn’t make the glossary.

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