Going Viral

Well, that was rather unexpected.

A blog post that did something I didn’t think possible: it went VIRAL.

It all started with the work space-themed Christmas party which I went to as Obi-Wan Kenobi (pictured left – where I was relieved to be considered to be closer to Ewan McGregor than Alec Guinness – however people had been drinking). I had to look after the lightsaber as it was destined to be one of my son’s Christmas presents. Star Wars mania subsequently gripped the Priestner household and The Clone Wars cartoon series became a must see on Cartoon Network. And then on 31st December I saw the episode Holocron Heist for the first time and THAT librarian and THAT library…

I am a modern librarian – customer-focused and technically able who spends his working life delivering a largely electronic and remotely accessible service to demanding high-fee paying users. And I am on a permanent mission to try to get my customers and other people in my life to understand the value and place of modern librarianship in today’s fast moving world – how it’s about information, knowledge and people rather than books. For this reason I just couldn’t let Jocasta Nu and her archaic space-age library pass without comment. However, I never could have guessed what would happen next.

I got into work on my first day back – 4th January to be greeted by a tweet from a fellow business school staff member advising me to buy a copy of the Cambridge News. My first thought was that this was a tiny piece on my publishing sideline (Classic TV Press) so tweeted back to say I’d check it out later. He replied to say that he thought I’d really want to look at it now as I had pretty much all of Page 3! I dashed out and bought a copy and was amazed to see it was about my Star Wars blogpost and titled: ‘Expert aims his light sabre (sic) at Star Wars library policy’ with a photo of me to boot. I was pleased, nay amazed, to see that the majority of my points were intact and that out-of-date representations of librarians and libraries was considered to be ‘news’. The online version of the article is pictured below:

Well this was good stuff I thought especially as the article linked to my blog. I was pleased that it would get me a few more visitors, but I never could have guessed just HOW many. I usually get a relatively healthy 30-50 views a day, largely fellow librarians (and therefore I’m preaching to the converted – not to say I blog to preach, rather I blog to help me process the work I do and to share ideas and thoughts). Before now my most viewed blog post, which attacked a Harvard Business School Publishing scheme to rip librarians off, had a total of 800 views. Well I soon realised that stats-wise this was going to be a whole new experience…

Day 1: 219 visitors, Day 2: 484 visitors and then, Thursday 6th January came around, by which time that Cambridge News story had got around, USA Today, Forbes, Dallas News and Facebook to name a few,  and when I went to check my stats that evening I was greeted by a figure of almost 3000 visitors! And more unbelievable still, for a while, every time I clicked refresh, ten more visitors were immediately added to the total. Clicking refresh got quite addictive I can tell you! By the end of the day 3961 visitors had checked in and my site stats chart looked quite different to normal. A fifth of the total visitors to my blog since its inception in May 2009 had visited on a single day. Below: my current site stats with the 6th January spike. It’s worth mentioning that I did have visitors in December but the scale the graph is now on makes them all but invisible to the human eye!

Although it was great to get this many visitors and generate this much interest not just in the library community but beyond, and hopefully challenging some stereotypes along the way, my favourite piece of mini-fame was being featured as the lead story on the Official Star Wars blog (below). I’m not a Star Wars nut (it had taken me two years to watch The Clone Wars) but this felt kind of special.

My favourite website headline was unquestionably ‘Cambridge’s head librarian (wow quite a promotion!) smacks down Star Wars Jedi archives’ (below) and my favourite part of any follow-up article came in response to my comment that Jocasta Nu had it coming for being such a rubbish librarian:  “we don’t really think Mr Priestner is condoning murder”.

And it was just great to be categorised on ‘neatorama’ in ‘Viral and Trending’ (below). Who’da thunk it!

By now, some 7182 people have read my Jedi Librarian blog post and aside from entertaining them I do hope that  it has caused at least some of them to think again about libraries and librarians. We don’t all have buns, we’re not all elderly women, we’re not all determined to catalogue and classify everything within an inch of its life, and we’re not hell bent on restricting access to materials. Today’s librarians want library users to access printed and electronic materials in a way that suits them, when they need it. Today’s librarians are itching to help you search and research better. Today’s librarians are about so much more than stamping, shelving and shushing. So, TV and film makers can you try a bit harder in future please?

And finally, just to prove I gave up the lightsaber, our over-excited son, John, on Christmas morning:


4 thoughts on “Going Viral

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