Clicking on the title of this post will take you to the Slam the Boards project. This group of librarians answers questions on public Q^A boards to show the generally higher quality and sourced answers one can get from a librarian. The hope is that having gotten a good answer from a librarian, a user will turn to librarians in the future, hopefully at their local library. 

I participate some, but not enough to banish feelings I could be doing more. I probably participate about four times a year, either answering questions or voting on the quality of other people’s answers.

I was voting on some answers Yahoo Answers the other day when I realized there is another reason that librarians ought to be involved on Q&A boards – civility and nonjudgment. I didn’t collect screenshots the other day, but of the ten questions that I considered voting on, seven of them had variants of “you’re stupid, you’re lazy, or you’re immoral.” One said “you’re going to have to learn grammar before I can hope to answer your question.”

Librarians don’t do that. If we choose to answer a homework question on a public board, we might point a student to a website or book that has the answer, but we won’t chide them for laziness. If we answer a sex question, we’ll do it without leaving a moral judgment. And, in most cases, if we can’t interpret a question on a public board, we won’t leave insults for the questioner. 

A colleague once defined a library as “a safe place to ask questions.” I think this is true. And I think that sharing that ethos through the Slam the Boards project can only help the world be a better place. I hope you can help and I’ll try to help more often.

Civility and Nonjudgment – Another reason librarians should Slam the Boards

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