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OLA 2007: Questions About Online Users,
YouTube, Facebook and MySpace

How Well Do You Know Your Patrons?
The first session I attended asked the question "How Well Do You Know Your Patrons?" in a non-traditional format, while the questions asked during the second session I went to unwittingly provided an answer within its very traditional format. Take a look at the photos below, read my observations, and "see" what I mean =)

Ken Roberts, Cynthia Archer, Liz Kerr, Michael Ridley

Session #200
Thu @ 8:00 am
All Conference Event
How Well Do You Know Your Online Users?
Welcome to Our Game Show. Bring Your Cell Phone.

From left: Ken Roberts, Cynthia Archer, Liz Kerr, Michael Ridley

Alison Drain, Patricia Horak, Zachary Abram

Session #324
Thu @ 9:05 am
I've Looked at Clouds from Both Sides Now
From left: Alison Drain, Patricia Horak, Zachary Abram

The first had former OLA presidents participating in a game patterned after a newish show; the second had speakers below 25 years old with a session named after an old Joni Mitchell song. It was good because it showed that the veterans are still young enough to have fun (note: look at Ridley's shoes in photo on the right), and the young ones are mature enough to care about songs they're not even expected to know.

But aside from the obvious differences that can be gleaned from the photos and titles, I thought the questions that were un/asked were more significant. There wasn't really time for questions during the first session, but it would have been good to have a definitive answer to the game show's central question. It was also very telling, in my opinion, that the young librarian who explained how to send text messages said that RSS is "like instant messaging but you can attach media files."

Meanwhile, the participants at the session on YouTube, Facebook and MySpace asked many questions, most of which concerned privacy and how kids can be protected from predators. No one asked about how social networking sites can be used to promote libraries. Perhaps the speakers should have led the way. Maybe I should have posed the question myself. But I think the answer to "How Well Do You Know Your Patrons?" would be more accurate if a lifeline were used—"Ask the Audience."

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