May 30, 2008

Online Space for Small Libraries

Last Thursday, at the final NHLA session of the day, many of us attended a lively and productive round table discussion for small libraries. During the meeting we talked about creating an online space to discuss issues related to small libraries.

After some consideration, I thought a free, private online space built with "" might work well in this case. Ning is a private social network. The site itself is password protected and every user must register and get admin approval prior to joining the site. Please know that I can certainly lift these restrictions and make this a completely open site that anyone could view and use. At this time, I am the only site administrator, but I am very willing to share these duties with anyone else! Just let me know if you are interested.

After the very short registration process and admin approval, you are automatically provided with your own page (a la FaceBook or MySpace). You can customize your page, choose a new template, or leave it bare - whatever you are comfortable with doing. You can leave messages for an individual on their page. You will be notified via email when someone leaves a message for you on your page.

There is also an online forum where you can start a new discussion. You can also respond to other people's discussions. You can get notified via email when someone else responds to a discussion you are following (or a discussion you started). Generally speaking, I think the forum is the function that will (hopefully) be used the most often on this site.

It is also possible to form smaller groups of librarians within the site itself. Users have full control over this feature.

There is an events module to this site. Anyone can enter a new event for everyone to see. This might be a nice way to advertise your next book sale, author signing, etc. The only downfall I see is that you need to upload a small photo with the event.

Please note that this is a free, ad supported site. If we ever truly wish to get rid of the ads, the cost of an ad-free site would be $8/month.

Truthfully, I am not sure if this site will fit our needs or not. But for the few minutes it took to set up (and for being free!), I think it is worth a try.

This site is password protected for the time being, but please do not assume that your words will be locked in a safe. Don't write anything you wouldn't write to this list.

If you work at a small library and want to share ideas with other librarians, register for the site by following this link to:

By the way, what is a "small" library? There isn't a true population limit or definition. If you think you work at a small library -- that's definition enough!