Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Embracing Change: Benefits of Facebook

Facebook is one of the most popular social networking tools at the moment.  People are constantly adding new photos and updating their status', and the site is especially popular with tweens and teens as a way to stay connected with their friends 24/7.  As a result, many organizations are creating Facebook pages that people can become "fans" of, and connect with their patrons. Check out this page one for the Shaler North Hills Library.  Libraries should definitely not miss out on this opportunity.  Yet, many libraries and librarians are unsure of the best way to use Facebook.

The ALA and the Association of College Research Libraries recently produced a study on the use of Facebook, and their findings might help you know how to use Facebook to your library's advantage. According to the study, "Facebook as a Library Tool: Perceived vs. Actual Use" most libraries Facebook pages are best used as a marketing tool. They make it easier to reach patrons about programs, services, and needs of the library. The "fans" of the library mostly visit their library's page for this information, and not to communicate with the librarian or others. In other words, patrons see it as a sort of interactive flyer for the libraries, not a way to interact with the librarian. So, this might be something to keep in mind when creating and maintaining your own library's Facebook.  Also, one excellent piece of advice from the conclusion of the study that I would like to highlight.  The authors remind us that:
"Librarians should not get too attached to Facebook, as there is always the next tool or social networking site that people are using. Web 2.0 applications movie quickly and the Internet is constantly changing,[so] be prepared  to leave your hard work behind to jump to the next tool." 
Brentwood Library Teens Facebook Page

Have fun with Facebook, and be ready for the next Big Thing!
Facebook as a Library Tool: Perceived v