Social networking , Facebook and Libraries
Is it polite to poke a librarian?
Building and maintaining social networks is essential in both the public and private sector and using facebook can be a great networking tool for librarians.
I don’t think online social networking sites are as functional as people declare them to be and may not even be the right space for libraries to be apart off-that is if they don’t update their status daily and connect with users regularly by posting interesting discussions/pictures. If they do great, but the reality is most don’t and the result is libraries being just another number on a patrons friends lists. For example, a library FB account can have 1000 friends, but if they don’t engage with them, they are not networking and using this tool effectively. Yet, if a library has only 200 friends and strongly connected to their users, they are nurturing their social network and have a valuable marketing tool in their hands. In sum, it takes work to be on facebook and if a library doesn’t have the capacity to update their account regularly-this energy may be better put somewhere else such as their website and/or focus on other social media tools like twitter.
Facebook and the University of Winnipeg Library
Most libraries have created facebook groups (not profiles) that users can join and check on a regular basis. For example, the University of Winnipeg library has a facebook group, which provides basic info on the library, applications and a link to its UWinnipeg libguide. The users leave wallposts, but to be honest they are not very interesting and I wonder if they get replies back from the library?
My favorite function of the UWinnipeg FB group is the pictures they provide and their Worldcat application (i.e. search for book via FB). Yet, to be honest, if I wanted to search for resources on worldcat, I would just go the library website and not log onto facebook.
The university webpage has links to other social media applications such as IM and RSS feed, yet there is no information on how to join their facebook group. The library needs to create a facebook profile (not a group) and promote that they have an account for students to join (i.e. Your library is on facebook– be our friend please). The potential here is to be networked into the university student population and write status updates that are relevant to them. For example, “Need resources for your paper due next week? Come see us”, this type of status update would be noticed by students and possibly encourage them to visit the library. Moreover, having an account where people feel comfortable sending you a message and chatting with you via facebook- tools that integrate into the the UWinnipeg IM and email tools.
Very few libraries, however, use facebook in this way. Instead they create a group, post some links and hope people join. Speaking as a user of facebook, I am part of over 50 groups and never check any of them regularly-as they don’t engage me and I have stopped joining new groups because of this.
My personal rant on social networks:
I have been apart of numerous social networking sites from friendster to myspace and now facebook. There are numerous other sites, but I lost my password and I forget my user name. My point here is that, facebook may be a thing of the past shortly, as new social networks are being created as we speak. The key for librarians is to be part of these new developments and join them as they are created. They can also have a role in teaching users how to create social networking accounts/profiles and let them access facebook/myspace in their libraries.
David Lee King-Facebook and Libraries
Secker, Jane. (2008, January). Case Study 5:Libraries and Facebook
LibrarianInBlack.net. Social Networking for libraries a bust?