Raining on parades?

Maybe this shouldn’t bother me, but it does–possibly because it was just about the first thing I encountered this morning, going through email–indeed, sent at 6:05 a.m. (my time).

I won’t include the writer’s name; that’s not important. Here’s the text, other than salutation:

You said

“If your public library/library district currently uses Twitter, Facebook or both, I’d love to get some feedback to help me prepare a book on public library use of social networks, to be published by ALA Editions next.”

Have you considered that such a book would have a short shelf life if not be DOA on publication, as the social media landscape is changing so fast?

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on
1. how your proposed book would/could be used by librarians (catching up with this trend, or ?)
2. the utility of books on rapidly-changing phenomena vs other means of getting the information out, e.g. blogs or ??

Sorry to sound like a wet blanket. I do wish you well on your project.

I responded as politely as I felt possible…and then did a little checking. The person who sent this signs herself as a chief researcher for a research firm. Searches for that research firm on Bing and Google turn up nothing but this person’s LinkedIn profile. That profile shows that the person is a special librarian.

Not a public librarian. Not, apparently, involved in public libraries. Not, shall we say, one of the target audience for my question.

I find myself unable to read that first question as a question, rather than an assertion. (Indeed, “Have you considered…” is such a leading form for a question that I’d generally assume it’s an assertion, not a real question.)

Since the person asking the “question” isn’t within the target audience, I have to wonder: Is this just gratuitous, well, wet-blanketing, to use her term? Does she troll the blogosphere (or lists) looking for projects of which she does not approve, then ask leading questions of those involved?

Can I expect an Amazon one-star review similar to the “review” of Open Access: What You Need to Know Now, but this time emphasizing that, you know, it’s insane to write books about “rapidly-changing phenomena”? (Facebook and Twitter have both been around for quite a while–seven and five years respectively–and I regard “social media” as a nonsense term primarily used by SEOs and marketing gurus.)

I dunno. Are there lots of people who go looking for chances to “challenge” other people, insinuating that what they’re doing is a bad idea? Or is this a special case?

[As to the preferability of spending a substantial amount of time preparing a study, then getting it out via a blog: Been there, done that, not thrilled with the results. Of course, I *also* got email from an Important Named “Research” Group that’s studied 100–count them, 100–libraries of all types on their use of social networks and prepared “data” (sorry, but for that sample size, I have to use scare quotes) that it will sell at a substantial price…. and, for all I know, there could be things about the anecdata that make it worth the money.]

Still looking for feedback…

For those of you who are in public libraries, note that I’d still love to get feedback if your library uses Twitter or Facebook or, for that matter, if your library used to use one or both and has stopped.



4 Responses to “Raining on parades?”

  1. Hey-

    I’d just throw the message into the junk folder.

    First of all, there are lots of libraries who have not yet started, and won’t for a while. Your book will provide much insight.

    For me what may be of more interest is the answers to the question about why libraries have stopped.

    As I have mentioned before, you provide great insight when you choose to cover a topic. I have read (almost) every issue of Cites and Insights, and have always learned some new things (yes, that is plural).

    This new title will be purchased by the library I work at, since it falls very much within our collection development guidelines. We were short of funds for a bit, but that is (at least temporarily) over. We have gone an purchased some of the Lulu books recently to help maintain our collection on library related topics.

  2. walt says:


    Thanks for that.

    On the other hand, I wonder whether I’ll get any responses from libraries that have decided to stop using FB or Twitter?

    I think I will *find* some libraries that have, in effect, stopped or nearly stopped using one or the other, particularly if I do the three-month follow-up I’m planning to do…but that’s not quite the same thing.

  3. Terry says:

    I’m glad I don’t live in the emailer’s world where no technology book would ever get published!

    We’ve been using Twitter and Facebook for roughly two years now and are still trying to figure out the best way to reach our patrons. I’ll forward your questions on to our current staff social networker, but from my Collection Development POV, yes, this is something we’d want.

  4. Walt, I think this is a “culture” conflict. “Have you considered …” is corporate-speak for “I see this problem with your project, and how are you approaching the problem?” It’s a combined question and assertion. Or a question with an assertion as an assumption.

    I’d presume it’s a real question, and the asker being not “within the target audience” is why the question was asked. That is, the simple answer is something along the lines of “By the time the book comes out, it might be old news where you are, but it’s still relevant to my intended audience (which perhaps moves at a somehow slower pace than your research firm)”

    The whole trend-following practice of corporate books is a subculture in itself, which is the basis for this little miscommunication.