Monday, September 10, 2007, was the first Slam
the Boards day--a
day many librarians spent on "answer boards" such as Yahoo! Answers,
Can'tFindOnGoogle, AnswerBag, and others, answering questions and
making it known that the answer was provided by a librarian. The
second Slam the Boards day was on October 10. Leading up to a December
10 event, it was proposed to make it a monthly occurrence falling
on the tenth of each month. So if you haven’t participated yet, you
will have the opportunity to do so in the coming months.
Slam the Boards was covered by Library Journal, among other sources, and
you can read more about the origin and background of Slam the Boards in
an interview on the Library Garden by Marie Radford with its initiator,
There is a wiki where librarians can officially list
themselves as participants and share information. You may, of course, participate
without signing up for the event. Just go to a public answer board, create
an account and log in, if necessary, and start answering questions.
There are a lot of good tips on the wiki about
how best to participate, remote library resources, and some comments/suggestions
from Jessamyn West (librarian.net)—including a caution with which
There were several interesting discussions and some debates over on the
Yahoo! Answers blog about the Slam the Boards concept. There have been
some detractors from this idea, but I think that if we approach this as
adding our voices to the boards, and being where the information needs
are, we can contribute while doing a little self-promotion and marketing.
We're not out to beat or better the answer boards, but (in my opinion)
to add ourselves as an option where people may not have thought of libraries
The main point is to be sure to let everyone know
that the question was answered by a librarian at the end of your answer,
and to remind them to think of their library as a resource. There are
some suggested signatures and tag lines on the wiki, such as “The Library is a resource, not
a building” or“Librarians are where you are—online!” (I
really like that one). You could add a link to your library, to a
directory of local libraries, or to a library's virtual or IM reference
No one wants to (or probably even could) put those
answer sites out of business. Slam the Boards isn’t out to annoy them, take them over,
or cause any harm, but it does want to be where the people and questions
are, and to let people know that librarians are real, live "answer
boards" all day, every day. I think putting the idea of libraries
into peoples' heads at times when they might not automatically think
of them on their own can be an important and powerful action.
Of course, many librarians already do spend time
on these sites answering questions, such as on AskMetaFilter, and there
are many library services/sites already doing it—here in the Garden State we have the wonderful Q&A
NJ (which, by the way, rocked the MTV Video Awards this year with
their awesome commercial).
If you can’t participate on the 10th of the month, you can do it
another day. You can participate at any time, not necessarily as part of
an official “Slam the Boards” event. Even if you only have
time to answer just one question and mention that you are a librarian,
then that will be one more bit of outreach for that day.
The Slam the Boards wiki has a space where the Slam the
Boards events are discussed. The first events were quite successful,
which is why it was suggested to make it an ongoing monthly event. You
could either join in on the monthly schedule, or form your own plan to
do this for a day, a week, a month, on your own or with your organization.
Or maybe you'll find you want to become a regular contributor to a particular
answer board that you like. However you participate, tell them a librarian
answered their question. Get slammin'!