I am hoping, nay, I’m practically praying, that your library does not have either of the following:
A collection of links to external websites (often called “Links” or the “Link Library” on the library’s web site, or
Bunches of sites bookmarked at the Reference Desk that staff use to find information for patrons.
Why do I have these in my craw today? Because these practices “silo” information; they take valuable, vetted resources and put them in places where your patrons either aren’t looking, aren’t going to look, and/or can’t get to. “Siloing” (Is that a word? I guess it is now.) is a common practice in libraries, and one that we may not even be aware that we’re doing. As librarians, we like to collect and organize information. That’s fine, keep doing it! It’s just time to update your methodology, so that you can serve more people, better.
It’s time to move your link collections out of the silos and out onto the public floor. In this case, the “public floor” is a web service called del.icio.us (yes, they took the .US domain and had fun with the address). This is the most popular social bookmarking site, and it solves several issues for link collecting all at once:
Ever been at work and wished you had your bookmarks from your home computer, or vice-versa? Yeah, I’ve been there. Not anymore. Del.icio.us stores your bookmarks in a web-accessible account, so anywhere you have net access, you have your bookmarks.
This is a social bookmarking site. Other people can see what you’ve bookmarked, you can see what they’ve bookmarked, and you can even see how many people have bookmarked a particular site. Yes, this is a great voyeuristic way to kill an afternoon…and find great new resources.
You automatically get an RSS feed of your collection that patrons can subscribe to.
Yes, you can link directly to your del.iciou.us account from your library’s web page.
Signing up is free and easy, and there are even browser buttons for both Internet Explorer and Firefox to make adding things to your account incredibly simple. Want to learn more about del.icio.us? Here’s the About page.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME, LAURA?
It’s time to get all those research links, wherever they might be, out into the Internet community where they can do some good. Let’s be honest here, shall we? People are not looking at library web sites any more for links. That’s what Google is for.
In this new(ish) digital age, most things online have a social element. Don’t be antisocial.
No more waiting for your web person to add links to your site. You can DIY and get more functionality out of your link collections, with built-in RSS and tagging, and many third-party applications.