Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Public Library Social Network

Circles. Tribes. Groups. Clubs. I always hear about how libraries need to become more involved with social networks, but I never read about how libraries are already social networks.

Granted, my library doesn't pry into the lives of 500 million people or allow private companies to build databases from a billion photos that can be used to find images of each and every one of us and link them to our online profiles. To sell us crap.

Sure, our library utilizes facial recognition software, but it's extremely buggy and only runs properly when I'm at the desk with the other librarian who can spot every trouble making patron we have. "You see that guy?" he asks, "I saw him take all those magazines from the shelf and dump them on the floor. And then he walked away and left them there."

So the social network meta data or tagging for that patron might include: asshole, magazines, sloppy, disrespectful, problem, etc. Libraries could use the same tools as other social networks if we chose to.

But the difference between the major online social networks and the public library is that we keep your activities to ourselves. We don't go blabbing about every book we've seen you scan on the shelf. We don't talk about your behavior in the restrooms. We don't link your name to your car to your address to your property records to your court records to your online identity. We could do it easily, but we don't. Because we're professions who value your privacy. Besides, there's nothing in it for us. Maybe if TMZ wants to send me a couple hundred bucks, I might change my mind, but since we don't have any local celebrities using our library, that'll probably never happen.

On a normal day like yesterday, our library had over 500 visitors. It could have been more like 800, but some people were too hideous to count, so I ignored them.

So 500 beautiful, or moderately attractive, or tolerably ugly people visit our library daily. And on a hot day like yesterday, a few of the really awesome members of the human race wore almost nothing so that from my seat at the desk, I could see almost everything.

But no one took any pictures. And no one blogged it or tweeted it or liked it. Because the public library is the social network that keeps your secrets. Even when your thong is completely out there.

So if you want a real social network that includes other people like you who read the same books and watch the same movies, then support your local public library.

Or else I'm showing everyone the photo I found stuck inside the book you just returned. You're disgusting. Call me.

No comments:

Post a Comment