The next “Slam” is Saturday, August 10, 2013. (Friday the 9th is great, too!) Make sure to share! Post your answers to your Facebook profiles and tweet them…
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.