Sunday, September 30, 2012

Libraries and Facebook

I have been using Facebook personally for a few years but being part of the INF206-506 group was a different experience for me. I didn't realize that groups were able to have features like files and that I could interact with a group of people who weren't my 'friends'.
As part of my investigation into Facebook I experimented with setting up my own community page as this is what libraries would do to have a presence on Facebook. Customizing the page is pretty similar to a personal page but I found installing applications tricky. Libraries use applications (apps) to allow users to access library information without leaving Facebook (Harris & Lessick, 2007, p. 30). When looking at the literature for good applications for libraries to use, I found that most of these application were no longer available. Facebook is an changing platform in its ambition to improve its user's experience and so do apps that often of third-party origin. However it makes it difficult for libraries who look to literature for advice on starting a Facebook page.
When I started this course I began following some public libraries on Facebook, as this is my area of interest. I am pleased to note how active some of the libraries I follow are, in posting to their wall daily, even on weekends. As Aharony noted, I have found that public libraries use Facebook as as a way to deliver information to users and as a marketing tool rather than as a means of interactive dialoging with users (Arhony, 2012 p. 366) This is disappointing as one of the strengths of social networking technologies as they tools that facilitate collaboration and social connections. Some libraries are more active in encouraging users to participate. Some examples include: 
  • Asking questions, mostly along a literary theme such as “What adventure story (fictional or true) do you most wish you’d been part of?” (Geelong Regional Libraries)
  • Posting interesting photos that evoke responses such as book based foods. (MooneValley Libraries)
  • Live book chats (Columbus Metropolitan Library)
Since the library I work at is not presently using any social networking technologies. I would suggest to begin with a Facebook page. It is relatively easy to set up, it offers a way of promoting the library as well as creating new relationships and interactions with patrons. Also, once the library increases its social media presence to other technologies, those technologies can be promoted and accessed though apps on Facebook.

Aharony, N. (2012) Facebook use in libraries: an exploratory analysis . Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives , 64(4), 358-372 .
Harris, A. & Lessick, S. (2007). Libraries Get Personal: Facebook Applications, Google Gadgets, and MySpace Profiles Library Hi Tech News, 24(8), 30-32, DOI: 10.1108/07419050710836018

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