best practices: libraryhack and engaging the community

I’m a big fan of how the National, State and Territory libraries of Australia and New Zealand ran Libraryhack2011. This is a consortium of governmental libraries promoting the use of (a small selection of) their collections in mashups. They’ve got a blog explaining things, a pretty vibrant Twitter feed (that isn’t solely reposting the blog’s content), and dude, they’re doing the mashup thing. How much more social media can you get? (One of my favourite entries in the contest was this sound recording made from a photograph.)

Interestingly, maybe instructively, this is an event, not something ongoing, and it isn’t very prominent on the NSW State Library website, which I think is a bit odd. Maybe this isn’t a best-practice after all.

But it does work well for that idea of “stepped” approaches for organizations. Focusing a social media outbreak on something that’s happening with the organization would give a good focus, to quickly move beyond the “What would we tweet about?” questions.

Event-type experiments can also be sold as short-term projects especially to more traditional (read: hidebound) organizations, who’re scared of what people might say about them online. If you’re having an event you want people to talk about it so it’s a good demand generator for social media engagement. Starting up accounts related to some big event would be a way to get the kinks worked out, to see what works for your users and your staff.

Now this is all stuff that looks appealing to me as a person. I have no idea how the organizations involved are evaluating the success of the libraryhack project. Would that be based on pageviews or submissions or what? It seems that you can find out how many people love the hell out of hacking library stuff, but that metric might not translate to some mythical general user.

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