Digitisation of information, social media policy, handheld devices, leveraging of social networks for promotion and fundraising and digital advertising are five shifts/trends that are impacting on how we behave as individuals online. They also deeply impact on how an organisation first plans, then responds to these new needs and changes in information delivery.
Digitisation of information is happening at a rapid rate. Books, news, music, Wikipedia, maps, textbooks, universities, school resources are all available online. However what happens to the percentage of the world of population in your area who don’t have access to the internet and/or a device to access it on? Yes, the digital divide. The Shift Happens video presents a statistic of 95% of people in the US have access to a handheld device. What about the 5%? In Australia, ACMA recently announced that nearly half of Australia’s adult population now owns a smartphone (Australian Communications and Media Authority, 2013) which is exciting. But again, what about the other half? The other half isn’t learning about digital citizenship, their online voice is not being heard.
Information organisations need to work hard to create information policies which ensure that all users of their service have access and the ability to be a digital citizen. They also need to create employee guidelines for interacting online with social networks. A good social media policy will ensure that employees are informed of their responsibilities, encourages them to find a voice, outlines how to conduct themselves (Web Publishing Branch, 2012) and also outlines what the objectives of using social media are for the organisation. Many social media policies such as the National Library of Australia’s social media policy encourages staff to engage in the conversation with users of their social networks, but uses control definitions to indicate differing degrees of compliance: required, must, should, recommended and may (Web Publishing Branch, 2012).
Going back to my earlier point about the digital divide, the Shift Happens video states that handheld devices will be the world’s primary connection to the Internet in 2020 (Did You Know 4.0, 2009). Policy and planning for information organisations and particularly public libraries need to ensure that future technologies and systems are useable on mobile devices. The lower cost of smartphones over laptops and desktop computers mean that patrons will expect to access a full catalogue on their smartphone, download e-books to it, access the library’s databases and much more. Libraries will need to consider training for patrons and staff on these technologies NOW.
Digital advertising and particular social media and networking for publicity and marketing needs to play a large part in telling the community how to access digitised information and bring people in to libraries. Librarians blogging about marketing are creating a lot of interest in the online community and for good reason. Without understanding how to market such a unique service, digital citizens will go elsewhere and may not end up good ones.
I’ll leave the last comment to Jessamyn West which sums up why libraries need to embrace digital information and digital citizenship and truly lead the way forward in the information society.
I’m sure there’s a larger post here about dealing with teens + comptuers + internet + understaffing + the fear factor of unknown online socializing, but I feel that it’s all of our responsibility as online community members of various stripes, to provide positive examples of social software online (West 2008).
Australian Communications and Media Authority. (2013, February 1). ACMA – ACMA media release 5/2013 – 1 February. ACMA. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_600160
Did You Know 4.0. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Web Publishing Branch. (2012, December). Social media policy. National Library of Australia. Retrieved from http://www.nla.gov.au/policy-and-planning/social-media
West, J. (2008, March 19). Why should libraries be socially networking? Librarian.net. Retrieved January 3, 2013, from http://www.librarian.net/stax/2266/why-should-libraries-be-socially-networking/