A friend of mine has said many times that she believes we in libraryland need to stop calling databases databases, and I have always agreed, but I have not done anything about it. I haven’t written about it, talked about it, blogged it, mentioned it, or thought about it any more than that.
When I hear the word “database,” and if I didn’t know what it was, it conjures up for me some really complicated spreadsheet system or, well, database, that is way too complicated for me to figure out and use, and that is TOTALLY BORING – not exciting or attractive to me in anyway, doesn’t sound useful to me and doesn’t make me want to use it or care to find out how to use it at all!
Well, yesterday this flew out of my mouth (or my fingers rather) in a twit over on twitter when someone mentioned they were changing their database descriptions to try to at least better reflect what they were to try to get their students to use them…. I put out my thought that if we really want to become more “2.0” and more valued and user-friendly, we need to stop calling databases, databases and do it now! More like do it yesterday!
This created a nice little chat discussion on twitter about what we SHOULD call them and that led to another nice little discussion about what they really are and what the users think they are and want to call them.
I want to thank Rochelle, KGS, Pete Bromberg, Library_Chic, cindi, wanderingeyre, awd, and everyone else for that twit yesterday. I am using the verb to twit as in a chat, to chat here …
This was also a great example of a nice use of twitter…. a quick IM-like conversation between a few people that was captured in the twitter program for me to go back and look at today.
It wasn’t an IM session – that in most cases would be between two people and wouldn’t necessarily automatically have been captured for me to refer to today. It wasn’t a chat room, it wasn’t e-mails, it was a quick conversation among some professionals that was saved as it happened. We commented back and forth while doing other things on this topic – in the 140 character limits of twitter – so we had to be brief and concise – no waste! I thought it was great!
Today I could go back and refer to all the suggestions and thoughts and questions and compose this post over here on Blogger.
So, to get back to the issues of the databases…. Really now, what can we call them so that people
1. Want to use them
2. Get the idea of what they are
3. Don’t be made to feel stupid (see the excellent post on this over at Tinfoil Racoon’s blog)
4. Don’t feel intimidated or turned-off by them
5. Find out the value of them
The twitter conversation went something like this:
Databases are mentioned.
I say we need to stop calling them that.
Someone says, then what do we call them? “…those article thingies?” *
We decide to “brainstorm” this
Someone says “Find good stuff with these search tools”
I say “yeah, search tools, electronic resources – still “eh” on those”
Someone adds, “search tools for [discipline(s)”]?
This causes me to start wondering if the databases are search tools or the resources within them? “but is the database the search tool or the gold in the mine!?”
Another adds, ” “library resources”? “resources to use in your research”? “
Then, of course, we got a little silly with:
“crap that your professor wants you to use so just do it already”?
And then in response to “tool” vs. “gold mine” we got to
“The trick is the meta-search of multiple indexes and then cross-linking to the full text in their respective happy places “
Which resulted in
“tool to find happy place of needed articles” ;-)
“that’s the problem. Catalog = search engine, inventory control, or lipstuck pig? Database = search or result or full-text?”
At one point, the brilliant KGS characteristically asked, “why don’t we ask the user?” and
someone replied, “*has* anyone asked the user what to call it?”
Then a few “gasp! ask the user!? oh no!” comments and jokes twitted by and then we continued questioning “well what is the database TO THE USER, not TO US!?”
Someone comments that their kids say the databases are websites, “database, electronic resource, etc=”website” “
Which gets a reaction of “knee-jerk reaction “no it’s not!!”…but really, isn’t a database just an iteration of a website? at least to the user? “
We get a little silly again:
“goldmines of knowledge” is suggested
“Goldmines of knowledge = databases, I love it. Is hilarious and descriptive”
“what to call databases: Stuff you need to convince your teacher you used more than wikipedia “
“Infopools, factipiles, report’o’calls” (some of my personal faves!)
“Put on your hipboots, kids and wade into our authoritative, full-text Sludgepits o’ Knowledge”
Okay, okay we were getting a little out-of-hand toward the end, but you get the idea….
So, c’mon everyone: What are we going to call these things that are expensive, incredibly powerful, valuable, under appreciated, under marketed and UNDERUSED!?
I KNOW we can do better than databases.
STEP 2: Get everyone on board calling them by their new name……..
* I have decided to not cite who said what in case anyone wouldn’t want their terrific twits shared with the world – I am not trying to withhold credit, but protecting against exposing anyone – if you want to claim any of those – go ahead – and/or tell me and I’ll give you credit where credit is due! ;-)
A couple of articles to share today, both similar, on the “new” librarians… one is in The New York Times, A Hipper Crowd of Shushers, and the other is in The Sun, For New-Look Librarians Head to Brooklyn.
What do YOU think of these takes on “us”?
Man, this is cool!
I really love this magazine, Mental Floss, that we get here are the library… in fact, it says right on it… “Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix!”
Actually, my director loves it too and so do some others around here so it is quite a trick to actually get your hands on it. I think if I ever have to I will end up subscribing to it…
Anyway, they also have a mailing list and they sent out this Quiz of the Week: Discontinued Ben & Jerry’s Flavor or Band I Found on MySpace!?
It’s pretty funny and I love the way they have the answers for you after you take it, complete with links to actual bands found on MySpace! ;-)
I only got 5/10 though. My director got 8/10! WOW! How well can YOU do!?
The always smart and thought-provoking Claire over on the PALS Plus 2.0 blog wrote about “living in interesting times,” referring to living in these times of great change that are taking place right now and how much fun and frustrating it can be!
Specifically, she talks about how to choose the “right tools” to accomplish things. She wants to announce the PIMP MY BOOKCART contest to PALS Plus libraries and figures that right now, the best place/way to announce it is still using “1.0” methods, i.e., group e-mail. However, PALS Plus will be launching a “Fall Into 2.0” program and perhaps by October, and most likely (hopefully!) by next June’s contest, there will be other, multiple ways that she can get the word out and be assured that everyone will see it.
I started thinking about this…. My first reaction is “put it out there in as many ways as possible” because I feel that this philosophy is what sort of underlies a lot of 2.0 stuff – make things accessible in many different ways in case some people access you in those ways. Make it easy and convenient for them to get it, in ways they like and use. In other words, be where they are, put it where they are.
So, that would mean, have it posted on a blog, with an RSS feed, AND send a mass e-mail, AND post it up in flyers for the pre-2.0 and barely-1.0 folk, put it up on facebook, etc., and make a flickr account with pictures, and, and, and …!?
BUT THAT got me thinking, oh my gosh – is putting stuff out in MULTIPLE forms creating MULTIPLE work for US!? Now, in some cases no. Once you have these things in place they sort of take care of themselves, meaning, if she posts it to the blog, it will have (most likely) an RSS feed and anyone subscribed will see it. Also, if she uses feedblitz and anyone is signed-up for that, they will get the e-mail notification. That still only requires ONE post. One post and many ways to be made aware of it. In fact, RSS takes care of a lot of things – anything you can do that has the feed makes it a one-stop-job. If she did put something on flickr, there’s a feed for that too, so now we have TWO places and still only TWO things to do, but resulting in several means of people being “told” about it.
No wonder people make the point that RSS IS 2.0 – it is the backbone of the whole thing!!!!!
The 2.0 forms actually really do and should cut down not only on the time and effort required by those who take advantage of them, but also for the creators…. Hanging up flyers and putting memos in individuals’ mailboxes at work – decidedly two pre-2.0 (even pre-1.0?) ways to do things – requries A LOT more time and effort to do than ANY of the 2.0 tools do, even if you choose more than one.
So, sorry, Claire, no answers here, except for my idea (and concern) that things should be put out there in as many ways possible – without overburdening the putter-outer.
And, I agree, eventually the “better” tools will last and the not-so-good or not-so-useful will naturally fall by the wayside. But, I think it will always be “interesting times,” and there will always be the next thing coming down the pike . . .
Go! Do it! NOW!
Support emergency legislation to remove municipal libraries from the levy cap . . . THERE IS A VOTE TOMORROW!
I just wanted to share the link to look up your legislator – it is EASY! You can look on the right side by alphabetical list, municipality, district, etc…
You get your district and you click on that to see the people and contact info.
I JUST CALLED them – I have always e-mailed in these cases but today I CALLED because I had just been in one of the webinars on WebJunction for the Spanish Language Outreach Program with some people who talked about advocating.
PHONE CALLS ARE MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE than e-mails!
It only took me about 5 minutes!
The people are nice!
They want these calls.
I identified myself as a librarian living and/or working in the district and asked for them to support the emergency legislation to remove municipal libraries from the levy cap. I said there is a vote tomorrow.
They already knew what I was talking about!
They took my name and seemed very interested to hear from me.
You either leave a message or talk to an assistant who takes the information.
REALLY – it took me less than five minute total for me to call three people!
Original message from Pat Tumulty:
CRITICAL UPDATE, MUNICIPAL CAP LEVY EXEMPTION.
We need your assistance right now to contact your NJ State Senators. Not tomorrow. Right now. Please ask your state senator to support emergency legislation which would allow an adjustment to levy cap calculations for local public library funding.When the new municipal cap levy legislation was passed this year, municipal libraries were included as part of the calculation for the levy cap.
This, unfortunately, created an inequity for the 245 communities which support municipal libraries. Communities which support county libraries have library expenditures excluded from the municipal levy because county libraries are funded by a dedicated tax and, therefore, outside the levy cap.
New Jersey League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Library Association and the NJ State Library have been working for a month on what we hoped would be a solution to this issue by adding language to state budget bill. Unfortunately, we were told last Friday, that this solution would not work and that we would need legislation. We must correct this inequity before July 1 because urban communities begin a new budget year on that date and would become subject to the levy cap. All other communities will be impacted with the budgets beginning on Jan. 1, 2008.
The Assembly, under the leadership of Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman, will consider emergency legislation to exempt municipal libraries from the cap legislation TOMORROW- Thursday, June 21.
We have every indication that there is support for this legislation.We are less certain of Senate approval, and we have learned that the Senate will cancel next week’s scheduled meetings and recess for the Summer. Therefore, it is imperative that this legislation pass tomorrow.
We must have this emergency legislation enacted in the Senate before the Legislature goes on summer break. Please contact your State Senator’s legislative office today and tell them you support emergency legislation to remove municipal libraries from the levy cap and that it must be enacted before summer recess.
Pat Tumulty, Executive Director
New Jersey Library Association