Meet the Team or The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People ; )

Researchers, teachers and students use university libraries in different ways but mainly for the same purpose: to find information.

All of us know how useful it is to ask a librarian for help and guidance in the library and discover many new resources with them. When you have a problem with a loan or a reservation, or some difficulties finding what you are looking for, just ask the librarian seated behind the desk; they are always there.

But, who is there in a virtual library?

You are home alone, in front of a screen, looking for help and …what do you find? A mail address? If you are lucky, maybe, a chat… but who are you talking to?

To build trust and credibility on the web is hard work for everyone involved in it.

And it’s something that is truly needed today. The Internets is an unknown and amazing resource where we can find lots of information, and libraries have a tangible competence in search engines and other similar web portals. Our guidance is needed more than ever… but… where are we? How can people recognize us? How to establish contact in a confident and credible relationship between librarian and student?

How to build the traditional complicity between librarian and researcher in a web-based library service?

Francesc and me someday, somewhere…

We can first develop our library web explanations regarding services by following some easy rules.

To identify who is there in virtual libraries is not only an option but is highly necessary; it is imperative. Users have to know who the author is of all these contents and resource choices. To have the option to comment to someone, not somewhere, as is the case in a traditional university library.

But to identify a librarian by their name is not a solution in and of itself. It is necessary to build trust and confidence in the library’s web pages following Fogg’s recommendations, of course, but also by observing and listening to user needs.

A picture of every librarian is not enough today. In the Facebook era people feel comfortable when human beings are behind the web. And humans do many things, not only academic work… we have birthdays, and BBQ, and we listen music and go to movies. To share real life with users (not your privacy) is to build an identity on the web. And this must be a real identity… never a lie, not only because it is not polite, but because it damages the image of the institution you represent and their trustworthiness, and everything you are working for.

Maybe you are tempted to redesign yourself or your team… great fake scenes of fictitious parties at your office…

Web credibility is not difficult to build and easier to destroy. Be earnest.

Original posted by Gerard Pagès i Camps on Monday, March 21, 2011 on #LibTechNotes a blog from the LibraryLabs at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya Library