BackgroundThe latest craze (for people of all ages) is the social networking scene. Blogs allow people to interact with others internationally, as long as they remain consistent in posts and are well-written. Social networking sites, however, allow people with common interests (or histories) to interact without the pressure of maintaining an audience. These sites encourage posting notes to associates/friends, uploading photos or videos for sharing, and/or giving commentary on newsworthy events. It's a peer, family, and mentoring network that can enhance careers, if used wisely.
As librarians, we can utilize these social networking tools to reach our patrons in new ways. For example, Dawn Lawson, author of "Taking the Library to Users: Experimenting with Facebook as an Outreach Tool," found positive results when she advertised her library events through the network (by the way, check out her "Links and Resources"!). Green Library at Stanford University created a Facebook "Page" shortly after this type of profile was introduced, and has experienced positive results as well.
Coincidentally, MySpace did not incorporate hardy privacy tools until more recently (in order to keep pace with Facebook), and some libraries were not prepared for the site's popularity, so the debate against social networking was a little stronger. All the same, libraries have found creative ways to be where their patrons are, and librarians continue to voice disappointment when authorities try to ban the tool (i.e. Lawmakers Seek to Block MySpace in Libraries, No Facebook MySpace at Mishawaka Library, NextGen: My MySpace Comment, Libraries and MySpace). More formal studies of MySpace can be found through further investigation.
Still other libraries choose to survey how their students would perceive them on social networking sites before jumping on the bandwagon. Some even foretell of implications for libraries due to social search engine constructs. The popularity of MySpace and Facebook has led to a genre of online social networking studies that continue to grow without sign of ceasing.
After checking out the videos below, take a peek at some of the library-focused organizations currently on Facebook and Myspace!
Video Tutorials (coming soon!):
- Social Networking - Making Connections in New Ways: Introduction
- Social Networking - Making Connections in New Ways: On Facebook
- Social Networking - Making Connections in New Ways: On MySpace
More helpful information:
- "10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know" (via AllFacebook)
- "Top Ten Facebook App[lication]s for Librarians" (via iLibrarian)
Library-oriented groups and organizations
What to do now?
- Try searching for more libraries and library-oriented groups/organizations, based on the organizations you are actively involved with
- Connect with co-workers and friends by adding them as friends within the network
- Upload a profile picture to your profile
- Create a Facebook Page for your Library (if it doesn't already have one!)
- An advanced user? Build a Facebook Application
- And for a bit of comedy, check out "Facebook Manners and You" (via Feral Librarian) and "The 30 Standard Facebook Profile Photo Styles" (via AllFacebook)