• Discuss the role of social media in the library setting.
• Define social media and provide examples.
• Define participatory technology and provide examples.
• Define file sharing sites and networks to reach library goals.
• Define mashups and provide examples.
• Evaluate social media websites.
• Discuss how social media can facilitate collaboration and networking among libraries and librarians.
• Discuss how social media can be used in library marketing and advocacy communication.
Librarians and other information professionals are always among the first people to try new technologies.
Because they continually seek new ways to deliver and provide access to information, they have been among the most enthusiastic adapters of user-generated content technology.
In the past decade, the Internet has changed tremendously. One of the biggest changes was known as Web 2.0. Some of the characteristics of this shift include:
|Old Way||New Way|
|FROM single computers
FROM static web pages
FROM closed systems
FROM one time publishing
FROM single authors
FROM data storage such as photo sharing
FROM "stickiness" (people come to your website)
FROM taxonomies (standard-based organization)
|TO interoperability and multiple device connections
TO dynamically-generated online resources
TO open systems and software
TO ongoing content creation and participation by end users
TO collaborative writing and consensus building
TO social networking and commenting
TO syndication (you send info to the people)
TO folksonomies (user-based organization)
Social and Mobile Technology
Let’s explore how the Internet, social media, and mobile technology have changed our world.
Social Media and Libraries
Whether participating in an online book club or collaborating on the development of a local history wiki, many people are connecting with their libraries through online activities. There should be a seamless transition from physical spaces where they can hold discussions, manipulate objects, and explore nature to virtual spaces where they can share information, discuss ideas, and create digital projects.
The library user is communicating, collaborating, socializing, participating, and interacting both physically and virtually. They take a photo of a plant and bring it to the library to learn more about it.
Social technology include a range of tools and resources that facilitate human interaction and connections. These dynamic environments may involved sharing text, audio, video, images, or animation. While some networks emphasize building authentic, real-world connections, others encourage the creation of avatars and alter-egos for use in world exploration or gaming.
Libraries use many of these tools to access information and offer services.
Social media are social technology used for developing and faciliating human interaction that may be related to commerce, entertainment, learning, or sharing of user-generated content. They are used to build connections among people with similar interests. This sharing can take place in many ways including social networks and virtual worlds.
Connecting with someone else who likes cookbooks and science fiction is a great way to promote enthusiasm in library resources.
Social computing involves the application of technology to facilitate connections and collaborations. From the development of virtual communities to the creation of virtual "think tanks," social software helps match people with similar interests and provides a discussion or learning space with an atmosphere of sharing.
Synchronous and Asynchronous Social Environments
Social software is used to facilitate both synchronous and asynchronous interaction.
Synchronous communication involves live, immediate interaction. Synchronous activities include video conferencing using tools such as Skype or Apple FaceTime. Or, instant messaging tools such as Facebook messaging. These tools might be used for library activities such as hanging out with a circle of online friends or holding a virtual book club. At the university, you may use the chat option in Oncourse or Canvas.
The online social environment is also used in asynchronous activities such as social networking and collaborative writing. Asynchronous communication involves delayed communication such as threaded discussions, email, or other types of recorded messaging systems.
These tools allow people to get together regardless of their location so social software can be used by people in the same department or from organizations around the world.
User Generated Content
No longer are library users only interested in acquiring content. They also want to add content.
Book club members may add book reviews to the library website or participate in online writing contests through the library.
Many libraries use file sharing sites for audio and video (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo), slideshows (e.g., SlideShare), presentations (e.g., Prezi), animations (e.g., GoAnimate), and image sharing (e.g., Flickr) to reach library goals.
Librarians share book trailers on YouTube, post award-winning edible book creations on Flickr, and build annual report presentations on Prezi.
Create an avatar and join into a virtual reality Shakespearean play
Listen to the songs and vote on your favorite singer
Write an alternative ending to the video program
All three of these activities involve taking action.
Participatory technology is a term associated with activities where people are encouraged to react, vote, or take action. For example, videoblog audiences might be asked to vote on their favorite video, rate a particular video, or comment on their favorite scene.
Student Response Systems (also known as clickers) are another way that people participate through the use of technology. Many libraries check out these systems to instructors and also use them in library programs.
The synergy found when combining technologies is resulting in a new waves of web-based applications based on Web 2.0.
Called Mashups, these hybrid services use content and ideas from many different services to create something new.
Using GPS, digital cameras, social networking, and Google Earth to create an social, collaborative, and social virtual game is an example of a mashup.
HistoryPin combines maps, images, and timelines. Some libraries are involved in adding to this collaborative website.
Social Media Evaluation
When considering the use of a social media tool in a library setting, consider the following factors:
- Does the resource have a stable history of operation or it is likely to disappear? Services like Facebook and Twitter have a large user base, so it’s likely that many library users would already be familiar with their use.
- Does the resource have a reputation for providing the type of service appropriate for a library setting? Keep in mind that the tools you use will be associated with your library. For instance, Facebook is a service for adults, not children.
- Is the service worth any cost that might be involved? Free services are great, but they can be filled with advertising and they may also disappear. Subscription services can be expensive, however they may be ad-free and provide a level of support needed for a particular project. For instance, Ning is a subscription service that provides tools for creating ad-free web pages and discussion threads. Compare it with free services such as Good Reads for online book clubs.
- Is the security adequate for the application? Many social networks provide tools for setting up profiles and sharing information. Before joining or involving your patrons, consider whether adequate security is provided for the particular application. For instance when working with medical or legal groups, privacy of information may be critical. While social tools allow privacy settings and limit outsiders from involvement, others are totally open to the public.
Social Media in the Library
Social media websites are used in many types of libraries for a wide range of purposes.
Professional Connections. Many librarians join social networks associated with their professional field such as the ALAConnect website. Or, with sites such as LinkedIn associated with being a professional in general.
Administration. Social media sites are used in all aspects of library administration. From crowdsourcing ideas for new purchases to collaborative grant writing, social media tools are used in collection development, fundraising, and many other activities.
Programming. From video conferencing with a guest author to virtual book clubs, social media are used in many aspects of library programming. Post program photos on Flickr and video on YouTube.
Content. From news to original content, blogs and podcasts are a popular way for disseminating timely information and library content.
Website Widgets. Your library website probably uses an embedded Google Map to provide directions, a GoodReads widget to share book club reviews, and a chat wiki to provide live reference services. Many of these social media tools are accessed through your virtual library portal.
Many libraries have social media pages where you can see how this media is used.
Explore the following websites. Notice how social media is used.
Social media and participatory technology are increasingly being used in libraries.
Mashups involve combining multiple social technologies.