Last week, I talked about how a library needs to be more transparent since today’s users instinctively distrust any attempt at secrecy. This week’s readings about the hyperlinked organization emphasizes just how much transparency is required in order for organizations to survive in the new information age. Initially, I was fooled by the term, hyperlinked, and assumed that it meant that the organization has a very strong web presence. However, the chapter from The Cluetrain Manifesto cleared up my confusion.
Being a hyperlinked organization is more about having an organizational structure that emphasizes collaboration and communication. The last time we were in class, there was a mention of departmental “silos”, where only one department or individual may be in charge of ordering the supplies. In this model, if that department disbands or the individual retires, the rest of the hierarchy is left hanging. Instead, it would be better to have a hierarchy that shares responsibilities so that the information about ordering supplies is common knowledge. When it comes time to replace the copier toner, anyone can order the correct part through the correct supplier instead of waiting for the one person to return from vacation.
This may be a facetious example, though not completely unrealistic. In the same way, information sharing should be done outside of the organization, as well. This is where transparency comes in. As I mentioned before, people want to know what is going on behind closed doors. Obviously, some information will have to remain confidential, for instance, employee records, but I think knowing the budget, the materials selection process, and even how complaints are handled will go a long way to creating a relationship with the community.
In this digital age, libraries aren’t the only ones struggling to connect with their users. We’ve all heard or read the news about the collapse of newspaper publishing. In an effort to maintain relevance, there are some newspapers who are going hyperlocal. The assumption is that people are more interested in what is happening in their immediate community. To a certain extent, I believe this is true and I think libraries should try to focus more of their programming efforts on what is happening locally. They need to be aware of their users’ needs and know what is important to them. I think that the DOK does a great job of tapping into the concerns of its users by encouraging them to create stories according to the changing themes, “One possible theme could be the drastic renovation in the next ten years of the railroad zone in the downtown area. The building project will have an enormous effect on the city, the neighboring people, and businesses.”
This is a change that will have a major impact on the community. By giving the people a chance to air out grievances and voice their thoughts, the DOK is letting them know that their input and feelings are important.
When I first moved to Maryland, I visited a local gathering? fair? market? in the completely renovated downtown area. I noticed that, among the various booths, there was one for the public library. The librarians were completely nice and patiently answered questions and helped people sign up for library cards right there, outside, next to the booths of musicians and vendors. Though they weren’t the biggest presence, at least they were there. It was old-fashioned, paper and pen, but the library made the effort to be where the people were going to be that day.
People remember things like that.
Cross-posted to The Invisible Library