Sunday, 18 December 2011

Receiving Negative Feedback can be a Real Stumbling Block for Libraries

I was at a webinar recently about social media and Libraries. I got to listen to the host’s views (@duncanjcde, Director, Networking & Resource Sharing at the Colorado State Library) and observe people from various libraries across North America and their reactions. Libraries’ use of social media is a topic dear to my heart because I truly feel Libraries hardly scratch the surface when it comes to their use of social-media and a large part of that has to do with, what I have seen with many Libraries, is their fear of technology and their stanch traditions.

I have been observing recently how many libraries, including the library I work at, seem to want to treat social media as a separate entity and not part and parcel as an extension of their work. Right now I see many libraries using social media as another advertising avenue and the conversation between libraries and patrons go in mostly one direction.

One example site the presenter talked about was a forum style outlet for parents with questions about diapers and so much more. Forums can be a great venue for communication between companies and their customers. The down sides are forums tend to go far beyond the scope of a particular’s business expertise and it can be a place to find a lot of negative views from unsatisfied customers.

I cannot see going beyond original forum’s scope as an issue for libraries as libraries embody endless topics and authorities. I do see the fear of *any* negative voices publicly seen by other patrons, staff, board members, and municipal governments as the ultimate reason holding many libraries back from really utilizing social media outlets. Companies standing above the rest in these days of social media are those who immediately stand up and take ownership to negative feedback they receive and handle it. “Handling it” could be as simple as saying “Thank you for bringing this to our attention and we will be looking into it as soon as possible, we’ll be touch.” There is no secret in “handling” negative feedback, it is just acknowledging it right away and providing prompt feedback. I do see this as many libraries’ stumbling block in really getting knee deep in using social media.