Several years ago, I was asked by the president of a professional library association to write a short article on social media for the benefit of the not-yet-inducted. I smiled to myself as I pondered various reactions, often negative, of the often fanatic obsession with seeing oneself on the web. To this day, I encounter techies who proselytize the necessity to adopt an online profile. “You’re not saved unless you tweet on Twitter, friend on Facebook, or post your resumé on LinkedIn.”
I was never big on herd mentality, although there is much to be said for “wisdom of the crowds.” (In fact, the custom of labeling blog entries with hashtags is one apt example of folksonomies.) Social media has definitely been a boon to marketing and entrepreneurs. Information specialists may also adopt various presences on the web, provided that the intention is founded on solid professional use to instruct, build community, and promote the respective institution.
As of today, we are still very much in a beta stage with little or no formal guidelines even from our professional associations. We knew what to do in the 20th century, but now in this millennium we are struggling to come to terms with the exponential metamorphosis of library use, information gathering, dissemination, even employment. Today, however there are benefits to elevator talk, staff lunches, or enhancement of attractive flyers through various electronic avenues on the internet.
A librarian’s knowledge of what makes a good website is becoming a vital plus in the profession. No longer does he or she need to know computer code to critique the library’s homepage, suggest applications such a chat box, install an online catalog widget, or link to Facebook. Moreover, many librarians who are communication-savvy will thrill to find that they can post rudimentary blogs that are aesthetic, meaningful and productive.
I began NYLibrarians on Blogger in 2009. Since then, I’ve begun following other bloggers and some have follow me. The focus of the blog has evolved over the years. It has always been a staunch advocate for libraries and librarians, covering the services provided to the public as well as issues of access and information literacy. Other topics have included library tours, developments in technology and trends in educational technology. My hope in this constructing this quick reference guide is to both encourage and promote use of social media to achieve goals aligned with the mission of the ALA and IFLA.
Here’s a short annotated list of a few of the most popular social media applications:
LibraryThing: social cataloging web application for storing and sharing personal library catalogs and book lists. Also perfect for posting and sharing book reviews and recommendations. Book groups are easy to create, and book friends made.
Facebook: Social application that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live both near and far.
LibGuides: Online pathfinders (bibliographies). Popular among academic librarians. Privacy settings are flexible and lists may be devised to organize usernames into various categories, e.g. patrons, staff. Where mobile reference is available, IM (instant messaging) widgets may be installed.
Twitter: Microblog. Short headlines, such as upcoming library events, may be posted to the internet. These “Tweets” may have a hyperlink to further information on other sites, e.g. a library homepage. URL shorteners such a tinyurl and bit.ly may be utilized to decrease the number of characters in the Twitter string (140 total). Bit.ly allows for tracking analytics, a handy mechanism to assess patron usage and reach. News headlines are often “pushed” to the ‘net’ via tweets . These tweets can be favorited, retweeted or created into a ‘moment’. Tweeters can communicate with one another using Twitter ‘handles’ (@) . Hahstags (#) before a label are used to designate a particular meme or topic of public interest. Some conference and webinar attendees share quotes or slides to the web using a hashtag and the conference’s handle, e.g.#Library2017.
Slideshare: Platform for sharing presentations, infographics, documents
Vimeo: Platform for sharing video content. Many educators prefer Vimeo to YouTube for reasons of privacy for their students.
Before establishing a social media / book sharing presence on the web
Other Social Media Sites of Interest
Cool picks, current literature, and helpful hints (A work in progress)
Most famous social network sites worldwide as of April 2017, ranked by number of active users (in millions)
Conferences and Conventions about Social Media and EdTech