Slam the Boards!
Today is Slam the Boards day – many librarians will spend some time today on “answer boards,” like Yahoo! Answers, Can’tFindOnGoogle, AnswerBag, and others, answering questions and making it known that the answer has been provided by a librarian!
This has even been picked up by Library Journal, where you can read more about the origination and background of Slam the Boards!
There is a wiki here where you can officially list yourself as a participant and get more information. You can, of course, participate without signing up anywhere. Just go to a public answer board and sign up there (some require that you create an account and log in, etc.) and start answering questions!
There has also been discussion and some debate over on the Yahoo! Answers blog. There are some detractors from this idea but I think that if we think of it as just adding our voices and being where the information needs are we can contribute while doing a little self-promotion and marketing. We’re not out to beat or better the answer boards, but (in my opinion) to add ourselves as an option where people may not have thought of libraries before.
Be sure to let everyone know that the question was answered by a librarian at the end of your answer and remind them to think of their library as a resource. There are some suggested signatures and tag lines on the wiki such as The Library is a resource, not a building. Librarians are where you are – online! (I really like that one). You could put your library link, a link to find a local public library, or a link to a library’s virtual or IM reference service.
The point is not to put those answer sites out of business, or annoy them, or take them over, or to do anything negative, but to be where the people and questions are and to let people know that librarians are “answer boards” all day, everyday. I think putting the idea of libraries into peoples’ heads at times when they might not automatically think of them on their own is a very interesting idea.
Even if you only have time to answer just one question and mention that you are a library person that will be one more for today!
If you can’t do it today, do it another day. Many librarians already do spend time on these sites answering questions, like on AskMetaFilter. And, there are many library services/sites already doing it – here in the Garden State, we have the wonderful Q&A NJ (which, by the way, rocked the MTV Video Awards last night with their awesome commercial)!
There is also a space on the wiki to discuss this event after today. If this event is successful, it may be repeated. Hey, maybe you’ll form your own plan to do this as an “event,” for a day, a week, a month, or maybe you’ll just enjoy it and find you want to be a regular answer board person.