What do we do if our wider organisation's IT department has blocked our access to social media sites?

I'm a fangirl who spends far too much time online with her life a finger tap away from overtweeting, and I have opinions and feels and thoughts about libraries and social media. Hopefully, this is useful to some of you. Tonight's post is a relatively quick one. So let's get to it.

Query: What do we do if our wider organisation's IT department has blocked our access to social media sites?

Short answer: Libraries got swag. Libraries got game. So wield it. Use it. Hold your IT department accountable to the wider organisation's digital strategy. In short - do your job, and show them why they need to do theirs.

More thoughtful answer: Sometimes, the wheels of progress turn slowly. Acknowledge it, get the hell over it, and find a way to work with it, because you need for your IT department to be on board with the library's vision. And not just the library's vision, but your wider organisation's vision because, surely, that *is* what you're all working towards. And if it's not, why not? And if your IT department isn't working towards that as well, then again I ask: Why not?

Your IT department holds serious power. Digitally speaking, they have the ability to help communities (whether its students and faculty for a tertiary library, or an entire city for a public library) reach their full potential, and it all begins with your staff being comfortable in those online spaces. It's all about meeting customers where they are, and you can't do that if your access to these sites is blocked. (Let's not even get into how much of a value judgement it is if your access IS blocked because, OMG, this IS work and your staff need to be there, and need to know how to use this technology). If your IT people have the ability to greatly help you, it then follows that they also have the ability to seriously hinder a library's ability to be able to do the same. Libraries are not powerless. The second you believe you are, you may as well pack up and go home. Libraries got swag. Libraries got game. Your job, with the help of library management, is to tell them/persuade them/show them how vital their role is in this partnership. Because it IS a partnership. How?

  • prepare/submit/deliver a presentation, business case, discussion document, formal proposal - find out HOW your IT department prefers to receive proposals and prepare the best damn one you've ever had to because, literally, your staff's digital wellbeing depends on it and, by extension, your wider community's wellbeing, too
  • sound out key staff in your IT department - you catch more flies with honey than vinegar (although why you'd want to catch flies I'm not sure but you know what I mean), and it never hurts to be on really good terms with IT
  • identify who in IT is an advocate for libraries and sell them on it - through them you can find out how best to present this, or even who to approach

Heck, if it helps, use highlighters, neon flashing lights, or billboards. (I'm kidding. Sort of). Basically, do whatever needs to be done to get them on board with your digital strategy which, logically, should meet your wider organisation's own vision. It should go without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway, your manager and your library's management team needs to be pushing this/backing this, too, because you can't do this on your own. And if your library management team doesn't see the value in that, then I'd seriously question your ability to be able to deliver on your overall digital strategy. If your IT people don't come to the party, I'd also seriously question the value of libraries in their eyes. (And, by association, in your wider organisation's eyes, too. Yeah, I said it).

I know that everything I've stated above will seem like common sense to so many of you, but the number of emails I've received about this very issue would suggest otherwise.

Note: My definition of 'swag' in this instance is 'your presence' and 'you got game' and 'you got skillz.' Yes, I realise the word is horribly overused, and usually by pain-in-the-ass nephews like mine BUT I felt it fit this situation. I'm wholly unrepentant about that.

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