The Virtual Library

I’m giving a presentation at the COSUGI (Customers of SirsiDynix Users Group, Inc.) conference the first week of March. This is the software helps us manage library operations.  The library’s online catalog is part of that system.  The presentation is called “Keeping It Real: Strategies for Planning and Implementing the Virtual Library.” I’ll post it after the conference.

Library websites have grown right along with library users. What drew people to the web 2 years or even 6 months ago isn’t necessarily what they’re using now. User expectations grow along with the new experiences technology offers and that’s certainly true of library customers.

400 million people are using Facebook. At the end of 2009, Twitter had 75 million twitterers (or tweeters) with 49,000 of them online at any hour of the day. 28 million of us use the iPhone application to connect with Facebook friends; over 3 million of us are reading an eBook on our IPhone right now. ( Me included.)

How do libraries operate in this dynamic and ever-changing environment? Partly by doing what we’ve always done – focus on our customers and deliver services, programs and collections they want and need. In the web environment, it also means using different resources, skills, tools and partnering with other information professionals to deliver the goods.

The most important part of the virtual library, just like the physical library is people. It’s the people of our community who use and support the library and those of us who are privileged to serve them. Things have changed a bit since I was a reference librarian in the previous century. As you’ll see, what hasn’t changed is librarians’ commitment to connecting to library customers and providing great service. Here’s an interview with one of our rock star librarians, Lissa Staley. We talked about how librarians work in this virtual environment and how she sees her role as a 21st century librarian.