Maintaining the collection in libraries is core business. Deciding how the library looks and feels is tied to vision statements, collection development policies, budgets and job descriptions. Adding social media to the list must be considered carefully because it is a significant expectation to maintain a presence and requires additional organisational requirements and expectations. It is not just about establishing accounts and maintaining them, but training staff in how to adapt to these new media platforms and the different ways that clients expect those to be conducted.
The State Library NSW (SLNSW) has a well established presence on a range of social media sites. They utilise these forums to promote library services, advertise events, showcase the collection and provide support to clients. This provides a significant value-adding maintained by Library staff and offers a range of curation and information management services.
SLNSW promotes their links to the history of NSW through provision of educational support packages, in house excursions, outreach events across the state’s schools, conferences and other events. This range of services is enhanced by their social media presence which is well maintained and personable.
The State Library Victoria (SLVic) similarly has a well established presence on a wide range of platforms. Their model is interactive, innovative, modern and focuses of the full breadth of their clientèle. SLVic have a strong youth focus and a reputation for holding events that bring lots of young people through the door. They have held events in virtual worlds as well as to engage social aspects of Melbourne live.
So, is it worth all the effort? Are libraries now expected to maintain this level of social media presence? These two libraries are great examples of how the use of social media can enhance their core business.
- Both libraries have strong brand connections that are maintained on these platforms.
- They promote the library’s resources, services and events and provide key information direct to clients.
- The social media accounts are well maintained and provide another point of contact for users.
- They engage volunteers to participate in projects related to library collections.
- They engage users by facilitating discussion groups and offer collaborative work opportunities.
- Create the impression of modern, progressive, responsive Library 2.0.
For school libraries planning to use social media there are some important considerations to plan for before establishing accounts (Bertland, n.d.; Casey & Savastinuk, 2010; Miller, 2005) .
- Policy requirements – institutional policies provide a framework for use of social media for both individuals and groups. A social media strategy is a means to articulate the goals from using social media. The time and energy needed to maintain these sites should result in something more than simply a presence but have an outcome that enhances core services.
- Copyright – when publishing to social media, school libraries need to be aware of their responsibilities regarding copyright and intellectual property. The ethical use of the creative materials shared on these sites should be attributed appropriately. Modelling good practice for students can enhance the educational outcomes of this process.
- Staff roles – developing good social media content takes time. Staff roles need to be defined to that time can be allocated in the working day for staff to be trained in using these technologies and have space to engage in these environments on behalf of the library. Decisions about proof reading, nature of content, photographs, written content etc. all need a process so that it is of a high standard and promotes the library in a positive manner.
- Risk and trust -the audience of social media is well beyond the local school community. Mistakes are visible and can be costly. Establishing protocols to best avoid these mistakes will prove beneficial in the long run and must be monitored in an ongoing fashion. Letting go of the culture of control may be necessary to have a successful use of social media (Farkas, 2008).
Bertland, L. (n.d.) Resources for school librarians. [online] Available at: http://www.sldirectory.com/libsf/resf/web2.html
Casey, M. E., & Savastinuk, L. C. (2010). Library 2.0 Service for the next generation library. [online] Library Journal, (May 21, 2010). Available at: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2010/05/technology/library-2-0/
Farkas, M. (2008) The essence of Library 2.0? [online] Available at: http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2008/01/24/the-essence-of-library-20/
Miller, P. (2005). Web 2.0: Building the new library. [online] Ariadne, (45). Available at: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue45/miller