Facebook in libraries… day 2

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A very brief post following up on yesterday’s post, just to document a few ups and downs in the process of developing a facebook page for my library…

Ups:

  • Lots of good UK and North American examples of library facebook pages to take inspiration from
  • Plenty of freely available widgets to turn to the library’s advantage such as a virtual bookshelf (showing new acquisitions – this is even RSS fed), RSS feed display tools, as well as COPAC, WorldCat and JSTOR search widgets
  • The potential to adapt functions that will be familiar to most facebook users in novel ways (e.g. using a photo album with annotated comments as a virtual library tour and guide to resources)

Downs:

  • The inability to use some widgets on developer pages – this is very annoying!
  • The fact that I have to develop the page through my own personal account
  • My general paranoia about security and sharing my own details with widget developers… but that’s my problem not facebook’s 😉

I’m looking forward to carrying on working on this tomorrow 🙂

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Libraries on Facebook

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I’m a fan of the social networking site Facebook, I can’t deny it.  It has helped me to get in tough with loads of people who, for one reason or another, I had grown apart from.  It lets me keep track of what my friends are up to, and even reminded me of the delights of playing Scrabble…

…and yet, despite lots of talk of social networking and libraries I have yet to build a Facebook page for my  own library.  Reasons for this are plentiful:

  • Time – as a solo librarian I have lots of other responsibilities, and additional “projects” such as this are always at risk of being put on the back-burner
  • User demographics – the profession I work for has a predominant make-up of middle-aged and over… would a Facebook group get any use?
  • Added value? – would a Facebook page really provide extra value for library users?  Would it be a valuable use of my time on their behalf?

I could go on…

However, that’s all about to change.  I’ve bitten the bullet and started to build a library page.  So, why the change of heart?   Well, the biggest factor is library users.  Whilst digging around on Facebook I found that some members of my organisation had started their own social group, and it had a reasonable number of (young) members.  This got me thinking about librarianship and the importance of horizon scanning and early adoption of new technologies.

Despite the current makeup of my organisation’s membership, the future will inevitably bring new blood, wanting new services and diversity of information provision.  The new generation will expect their organisation to move with them, and to deliver information in the ways they expect, not just sticking with the “tried and tested” methods because that is what has always been done.

A facebook page will allow the promotion of the Library and events that I am running (even offeringthe possibility of booking management made easy),  will allow me to provide regular updates of new resources available to members in real time (rather than just through the bi-monthly organisational publication) and will also allow new lines of communication to be opened between the Library and the organisation’s members – perhaps even members who would not be reached by more traditional methods.

I don’t expect this to be an instant success – it will take plenty of promotion, persistence and [crucially] sticking power before it comes to fruition.  However, the minor investment of time and effort now promises to provide a wave of benefits in the future.

Should it prove unpopular or unsuccessful what has been lost?  A few hours here and there… no more, no less… and I think I can just about justify that 😉

Pimp my… erm… special collection

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Apparently the Vienna State Library has come up with a new outreach programme to bring the joys of one of their special collections to a wider audience.  That’s right, they’ve set up a premium rate hotline so people can pay €0.39 per minute to hear the dulcet tones of Austrian star Anne Bennent reading a selection of 18th-20th century erotic literature from their extensive collection.  Now that’s what I call classy!  I wonder whether she’s got a husky voice, and they play bad saxophone music in the background as an accompaniment?  😉

A number of American news services and bloggers are reporting this (not sure what that says about them), claiming the revenue raised is going to go towards library remodelling and expansion.  However, the head librarian (interviewed today by Eddie Mair on the BBCs PM programme) insisted that no money was being made, and that this was just one of the library’s cultural activities.  Not sure which is most believable… I’m still trying to get my head round a state library running an “0898” service!!

Publicity fiend

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Having been pro-active in terms of library advertising the other night at the AGM I have once again been beavering away, developing relationships with new stakeholders [that word again!] and raising awareness of library services.

I also managed to get myself involved in an advertising campaign for the organisation in general this afternoon, and spent a good few hours having fun with that!  I’ve really been seeing the benefits of my pro-active approach in recent weeks, in terms of increasing use of current services… it makes all the hard work seem worthwhile!

And now the working day has ended… to the pub!!