Monthly Archives: May 2011

Libraries Need Community Attachés

In addition to being a librarian, I am also a partner in an online marketing company that manages the online presence of its clients. This includes SEO.

As a part of the SEO industry, all of us at Commerce Kitchen love SEOmoz; they are always sharing new research and innovation, they are ethical (in an industry that is often marred by a lack of ethics), and they create and foster community within the industry. See, sounds like a librarian’s dream company, right?

So, when SEOmoz posted new openings last week I had to give them a long hard look even though I am in no way looking for a new job. I just had to see what a company I respect was looking for in their people and their positions.

What I found was a posting that I wish I saw with a library name attached to it. The post was for a Community Attache:

Awesome Job #6: Community Attaché

Our community is one of the most vibrant on the net. The Community Attaché, along with Jen Lopez, our Chief Community Wrangler, will connect, develop and nurture that community. Seriously, you want to have our community over for a sleep over. One of your primary responsibilities will be managing the day-to-day operations of our PRO Q&A Forum—you should be excited about increasing participation, quality and functionality. You’ll ensure questions are answered quickly, and that great answers are rewarded and recognized. You don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and reviewing dozens of questions daily. You’ll connect weekly with lots of community members and develop and manage a team of associates and moderators who will help you keep things running smoothly.

You’re passionate about user-generated content and will encourage participation in YOUmoz (our user-generated blog), walk new authors through the process, help edit submitted posts, and publish and promote finished content. You love SEO and social media and should have experience with both. Most importantly, you aren’t afraid working with a wonderfully diverse set of people (including some very occasionally grumpy ones) who are passionate about online marketing and SEO. You must also enjoy giving and receiving hugs. ;-)

So why do I love this post and want to see this sort of thing in libraries?

First, they want people that truly love giving good customer service and care about the people they serve and the community they are fostering. They want someone that is focused on great usability and getting people the answers they seek. Additionally, they want people that like to do research to get to that answer.

However, the thing that really struck me was this “passionate about user-generated content and will encourage participation”. In my eyes, the future of libraries is about user-generated content and user participation. No longer will you find the best answer in a book or database. The future of content is not about connecting people with an item. Instead it is about connecting people with other people.

One of the most important roles I see for librarians in the near future is that of guide through content creation. We should be helping our communities and users share their knowledge and expertise. We should be working on publishing e-books by the amazing people just down the street. We should be helping the talented kids that come in learn to edit video. Just as the posting said, we should “walk new authors through the process, help edit submitted posts, and publish and promote finished content.”

While I may not have been looking for a job while reading the SEOmoz posts, this one opening has given me a new dedication to the one I am in. The future of libraries is ours and we need to start looking at great companies that are doing interesting things with content and community building and figure out how libraries are a part it. I can only hope that positions like this exist in libraries when it is time for me to move on to my next great adventure.