WILL UNWOUND #659: “YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR FIRST TIME”January 18, 2012
David Lee King is one of my favorite library people. He is the library profession’s number one expert on integrating social media into your overall library program. I’ve never met him but I really like his blog (David Lee King) and his new column (Outside/In) for American Libraries Magazine. He is the digital branch manager for a great library system in Kansas, the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, which is run by a very dynamic librarian named Gina Millsaps who is running for ALA President. (Hint: vote for her!).
David is one of those rare specimens in our profession – a technologist with a sense of humor and an appreciation for glue and paper books. If your day is going badly and you need a chuckle, click on his video Library 101.
The reason I bring him up is because of his latest blog post: “Hey, Milwaukee, You’re Doing It Wrong.” When I read the post I got this funny feeling of deja vu. David was taking Milwaukee Public Library to task for their latest advertising campaign: a quirky series of tongue in cheek billboards suggesting that hey, maybe a little less social media time and a little more book reading time would do you good. Here is David’s commentary:
- I get that the billboards are meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and that many online types think they’re witty and clever. And I think books are wonderful – no problems there. But I also see a lot of libraries taking wistful looks into the past, rather than actively planning to navigate our emerging digital content future. To me, these billboards are looking into the past. Things aren’t going to go back to the way they were, no matter how many times we tell people they should be reading a book instead of watching a Youtube video or hanging out on Facebook. Is this the message you want to send to your community? I’m not convinced it is.
- “The Milwaukee Public Library System is airing a television commercial that shows a man being arrested by a Sergeant Friday type detective. The villain is seen scurrying down a dark street with records, films, cassettes, eight tracks, art prints, jigsaw puzzles, and sculptures. He has everything but a hamster, a chain saw, and an aluminum baseball bat. Friday naturally assumes that the gentleman has knocked over the local K-Mart, and he can’t believe it when the poor guy pleads that he has only been down the block to his friendly neighborhood library. Actually, Friday should have arrested the Milwaukee Library System on the grounds that it was impersonating a hock shop. For a library system with over 3 million books in its various member library collections to promote itself as the purveyor of an eclectic array of audio visual trinkets is akin to Bard College portraying itself as a training ground for defensive tackles and strong side safeties simply because it has a football team.”
- “The name of the new p.r. game for libraries is not to mention books. Rather, it seems that librarians want to project the image that their institutions have a little more flash and dazzle than simply Shakespeare, Chaucer, World Book, and the Chilton auto repair manuals. They apparently want to give the impression that Donnie Osmond on tape is more important than Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, or that one Norman Rockwell print is worth four set of McGraw Hill’s Encyclopedia of World Art. Are library p.r. people afraid that the mere mention of the word “books” will scare way too many would be users?”