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When libraries go social, role of librarians becomes more important than ever

When we talk about the trend towards social libraries, one of the next major questions on librarians' minds is, What's going to happen to me? How is my role affected? The answer has a bright outlook, because with social libraries comes the need for social librarians.

It's a role that calls upon core skills of content management, organization, and tech savvy, and asks librarians to take them to a new level, making the role more important than ever. We'll explore it more below in our latest Social Libraries 101 course.

In a social library, librarians continue to manage diverse information provided by content publishers, including business, scientific, technical, and community information (traditional, vetted content). But patrons are allowed to add tags, comments, and ratings (social content), which increases content quality, as we discussed last week.

A librarian is needed to oversee content development, maintain structure, and manage this content community. The social librarian assumes the crucial role of information organizer and moderator, managing both vetted and social information. Social librarians monitor and modify taxonomies as patrons browse and categorize information on their own. They sit at the center of the knowledge repository, and manage the knowledge community and its assets, such as by "weeding and feeding."

You can see this dynamic below. At the heart is the librarian, managing published content, and making it available to patrons. Select patrons (usually domain experts) provide social intelligence that librarians incorporate into the published content to enhance it. Librarians in turn provide this enhanced information back to the patron community.

Managing this interaction between vetted content and community input allows the social librarian to control the relevance and quality of the collection's content. As a result, productivity, collaboration, and organizational efficiency can be improved, which we detailed in our How to Cost Justify Your Social Knowledge Network Needs series.

Social libraries make sense in a variety of domain-specific environments where vetted and social information exist in concert. Librarians continue to play a critical role in managing the research center, while also managing and moderating the value-added interaction between library assets and the community they serve. They continue to be the heart of a thriving social library.

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