The emergence of social networking technologies has significantly altered the way people communicate and connect with each other. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, are online spaces where people with common interests can interact whereas social media sites, such as YouTube and Flickr, allow people to share the content they create (De Rosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk, & Jenkins, 2007). The internet has moved “beyond linking and clicking to creating, sharing and collaborating” (Khosrow-Pour, 2013, p. 975). This social network aspect is commonly referred to as web 2.0.
Ubiquitous access to computers and mobile technology has increased participation in online spaces. Commerce, government, education and libraries are able to harness the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies and the accompanying principles of collaboration, conversation, community and content creation. While some educators and library professionals may be sceptical, “Web 2.0 characteristics support the principles of good teaching and learning – active participation and collaboration” (Berger, 2010, p. 14).
Virtual environments, simulations and laboratories provide opportunities for authentic learning, augmented reality and collaboration. With Second Life, Linden Labs pioneered multi-user virtual environments and “brought graphically rich simulations out of the rarefied realms of defence and aerospace, and made them available to anybody with a moderate level of computer literacy” (Helmer, 2007, p. 13). Although not initially designed for education, the pre-existing environment and commitment to open source makes Second Life appealing for education and training purposes. Studies have found “immersion in a digital environment can enhance education in at least three ways: by enabling multiple perspectives, situated learning, and transfer” (Dede, 2009, p. 66). The sophisticated technological barriers to virtual learning are coming down “thanks to smartphones, immersive gaming software and other rapidly evolving technologies” (Waldrop, 2013, p. 268).
In response to Web 2.0, the concept of Library 2.0 was debated in 2005 but an exact definition was not determined. Despite this uncertainty, it is generally understood that “Library 2.0 requires an LIS professional that is better equipped and [more] broadly educated than one just ten years ago” (Partridge, Lee, & Munro, 2010, p. 316). Casey and Savastinuk assert “Library 2.0 should include three elements: constant change, giving library users control through participatory, user-driven services and implementing these to improve and reach out to both present and potential users” (Anttiroiko & Savolainen, 2011, p. 91). Mobile devices, blogs, curation tools, video sharing sites, photo sharing sites, Twitter and Facebook are significant in many people’s lives so “ideally, libraries will match these evolving options to their user’s technology preferences and information seeking behaviours so they can provide optimal user experience” (Hofschire & Wanucha, 2014, p. 9).
According to the Pew Research Centre, 74% of adults use a social networking site and 71% of teens use more than one social network site (Lenhart, 2015). These statistics confirm that libraries should be exploring, planning and working towards developing policies for social networking and social media. Nevertheless, technology should not be the only driver “when thinking about ways to work toward Library 2.0, consider what services your library already offers that could be improved as well as new things that can be added” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2010, para 22). This mirrors some key advice Meredith Farkas gave in the video, Building Academic Library 2.0 (2007). Farkas says it is important not to focus just on technology or to abandon those that do not use technology. Used in combination; social networking, social media and print can reach different audiences. Existing collections can be highlighted and Web 2.0 “seeks to harness our customer’s knowledge to supplement and improve library services” (Casey & Savastinuk, 2010, para 11). An example of this would be using Flickr and utilising crowd sourcing to tag images for an historical collection. With ongoing evaluation and adaptation, organisations and libraries can leverage these social spaces and tools effectively to extend their reach, to communicate, to connect, to interact and to advertise.
The concepts behind social networking are not new. Seeking out others with shared interests and building communities predates technology. “Social sites do not just have various social features; their essence is social. Their central value is as a platform, their functions are social and they enable personal and group connections at levels never before seen in the history of telecommunications.” (De Rosa, Cantrell, Havens, Hawk, & Jenkins, 2007, p. 2-2).
Anttiroiko, A., & Savolainen, R. (2011). Towards Library 2.0: The adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in public libraries. Libri, 61(June), 87-99. doi: 10.1515/libr.2011.008
I started Social Networking for Information Professionals as an active user of social networking and social media technologies. As my time working in school libraries progressed, so did the internet. I had never given much thought to how the internet developed and went from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. This subject has given me an historical perspective of the internet and made me aware of significant shifts in technology. I now realise that I have continued to use Facebook because it allows me to connect and share my experiences with my personal network. I can also see the educational possibilities for Facebook through my involvement with the Social Networking for Information group.
Despite some concerns about privacy issues, I have been quite relaxed about providing personal details in order to use social networking and social media sites. The benefits of the sites often outweigh my reservations. I am cognoscente of my position as a teacher librarian and protect my privacy on Facebook and am conservative with my interactions with friends. I believe I have a better understanding of privacy issues and how the concept of privacy is changing, particularly for teenagers, in a networked world.
Social networking and social media are nodes in my professional learning network (PLN). I was initially skeptical of Twitter but have found it to be an extremely valuable tool for finding and sharing resources. My new goal is to start using Twitter to connect and become involved in conversations with other library professionals. For me this step requires a competency using Twitter and I think my confidence has grown in this area.
Prior to undertaking this subject I started a school library Twitter account. On reflection I took an ad hoc approach and did not listen or ask users what they wanted. I was not aware of the importance of having a strategy. This subject has exposed me to practical strategies, plans and policies from a variety of organisations and libraries that I will be able to adapt and implement in my school library. I am now in a much better position to formulate a social networking and social media plan for my school library and I understand that it is imperative to continually evaluate it using tools such as Twitter Analytics.
I have rediscovered and found new ways of using Flickr. Photography is a passion of mine so I use Flickr to showcase my photographs and be inspired by other photographers. Now that I understand the power of creative commons and crowd sourcing, I have started to use Flickr in new ways. I am eager to share this ethically responsible way of sourcing images with my students and colleagues. I will also consider sharing some of my own photographs using Creative Commons licenses.
As a teacher librarian I enjoy using curation tools for personal interests and to gather resources for the library. Visually appealing tools such as Scoop.it and Pinterest stole my attention away from Diigo. I am pleased to say that Diigo has returned to my professional toolkit since my return to formal study and I am finding it very useful. Apart from Feedly, I haven’t used many social new sites. I have added Nuzzle to my toolkit because it recommends articles from friends or people I network with. I still need some more convincing about the value of Reddit but I will not dismiss it until I have explored it further. I have been playing in the “sandbox” with curation tools and trying to see which are of most benefit to my PLN and which can make digital material more visible to my school community.
I have a gap in my knowledge with computer games and simulations so I tentatively stepped into the world of Second Life with Carole Gerts as my guide. I only scratched the surface and barely learned to how to walk during my sessions so I will need to spend more time within this world to become familiar. I am aware that I need to learn more about the educational applications of gaming and virtual learning. It is something that does not come naturally to me so it will require motivation on my part to broaden my knowledge, skills and experience.
School libraries are bound by the policies of the school and/or education departments. This does not preclude school libraries from developing their own policies in relation to social media strategy but I found little evidence of these online. Many school policies are kept within the school and not published so examples of school library social media policies or school social media policies were difficult to find.
This slideshare by Judy O’Connell encourages teacher librarians to become competent social media users. The twenty first century learning environment is constantly changing and teacher librarians must adapt. The internet is now a participatory medium and social networks are integral in our lives. School libraries need to be involved in social media and it begins with teacher librarians being active users within their with personal learning networks and their personal lives. Judy provides advice for teacher librarians on how to get started with policy planning, examples of best practice, tools and strategies for implementation. Specific instructions are provided for using Facebook and Twitter in school libraries.
The National Library of New Zealand provides services to school libraries. This comprehensive guide explains what social media is, how it can enhance school library services, what planning is involved, and the types of tools that can be used. The guide explains that social media for libraries is about building connections and learning communities using web based technologies. Seven steps to planning the library’s social media presence are clearly articulated. There are also links to a detailed planning template, a social media toolkit, examples of social media use in school libraries and further reading that would assist teacher librarians to learn about and plan a social media strategy.
Ellyssa Kroski explains that school libraries have different challenges to face with social media than other types of organisations. Social media policies provide clear guidelines for staff posting on behalf of the library and on their personal accounts and standards for acceptable use by library users. The article outlines what should be included in a social media policy and suggests looking at other organisation’s social media policies for best practice. The importance of revising the policy when technological changes occur is also stressed. Unfortunately some of the links to examples of policies are no longer available.
The social media policy of All Saints Anglican School is one of many of the school’s policies. This is a very detailed policy that outlines appropriate guidelines and procedures for the use of social media by the staff and students. This policy therefore would also encompass the library. The main aim of the policy is not to restrict staff and students from using social media but to protect them by making very clear what is considered appropriate and acceptable use. The following headings provide structure to the policy: purpose, scope, responsibilities, definitions, breach and conclusion.
This document from New South Wales Education & Training provides social media guidelines for the department. The value of social media is noted and employees are made aware of what is required for responsible use of social media for personal and professional use. While this is not a library policy, aspects could be adapted for library use. The guidelines are clearly summarised in large font on a single page and then followed up with more detail.
Second Life is a multi-user virtual environment with user created content facilitated by its open architecture. Second Life is a place where you can anonymously play and try out new or different experiences without the constraints of the real world. Second Life has applications for education and training and is used by many universities. (Helmer, 2007).
I was aware of Second Life but had never used it before. Computer games and simulations are not something I usually partake in so I took the opportunity offered by Carole Gerts to explore Second Life. I think I would have struggled to acclimatise to the virtual world without Carole as a guide. The vast array of options, commands, new terminology and motor skills required to move my avatar was daunting. The places we visited highlighted the advantages of Second Life as a discovery and learning tool. In a one hour session I met fellow classmates and we teleported to different places and were able to view archives and scanned pages of rare books at Stanford University, have fun with science at the Exploratorium and view art at the University of Western Australia. Due to our inexperience we didn’t communicate with each other that much but I can see how collaborative this would be with more experienced users. Information organisations could deliver authentic learning experiences for employees or users who are separated by distance. Collaboration between different information organisations could also occur with virtual conferences, meetings, working groups and training sessions.
There are some barriers to using Second Life. The client software must be downloaded to a computer with sufficient resources to run the sophisticated application and adequate bandwidth to avoid it slowing down. New users need to spend time learning how to navigate the controls, understand the terminology and how to manoeuvre their avatar. To become comfortable using Second Life, its creator Linden Labs, recommends at least four hours of training. This is a substantial time commitment before you even start to use it for educational or training purposes.
The use of Second Life or similar multi-user virtual environments would likely increase if they were able to be used in a web browser. Future development in virtual spaces would also have to take into consideration the ubiquity of mobile devices and the opportunities afforded by cloud computing.
My avatar enjoying the Book Garden at Stanford University
Scanned documents in the archives at Stanford University
My reasons why libraries should be on social media:
Advertise library events and services
Promote the library collection
Report on library events
Extend the reach of the library
Communicate, interact and connect with library users
Educate library users
According to the Pew Research Centre, 74% of adults use a social networking site and 71% of teens use more than one social network site. Social media is a big part of people’s lives now so “ideally, libraries will match these evolving options to their user’s technology preferences and information-seeking behaviors so that they can provide optimal user experience” (Hofschire & Wanucha, 2014, p. 9). The three libraries above are adapting by moving beyond their physical spaces and attempting to connect and communicate with their users using social media. Library news that traditionally would have appeared in a newsletter or on a bulletin board is now communicated widely using these new channels. Melbourne Library service advertised their booksale, Melbourne High School shared a link to their blog that contained a report of a recent library event, The University of Melbourne shared library tips to educate their users. All libraries posed questions to initiate try and discussion and used images to highlight their events, services and collections.
Stage 1 Immersion:
Immerse yourself into networks. Create any and all networks you can find where there are people and ideas to connect to. Collaboration and connections take off.
Stage 2 Evaluation:
Evaluate your networks and start to focus in on which networks you really want to focus your time on. You begin feeling a sense of urgency and try to figure out a way to “Know it all.”
3 Know it all:
Find that you are spending many hours trying to learn everything you can. Realise there is much you do not know and feel like you can’t disconnect. This usually comes with spending every waking minutes trying to be connected to the point that you give up sleep and contact with others around you to be connected to your networks of knowledge.
Start to put your life into perspective. Usually comes when you are forced to leave the network for awhile and spend time with family and friends who are not connected (a vacation to a hotel that does not offer a wireless connection, or visiting friends or family who do not have an Internet connection).
Try and find that balance between learning and living. Understanding that you can not know it all, and begin to understand that you can rely on your network to learn and store knowledge for you. A sense of calm begins as you understand that you can learn when you need to learn and you do not need to know it all right now.
Which stage am I in?
I think I am currently experiencing stage 5 in my personal learning network (PLN) adoption. I have experimented with different connections and found the sources that suit my needs. I access certain parts of my PLN more frequently than others but have found a balance between my work and personal life. When I want to learn something new or have a question I have enough confidence to know where to look. I would like to develop more personal connections with people via social media. I mostly read and share resources that I find or seek out on social media. I would like to participate in more conversations.
Based on my reading of Matthews (2009), Lazaris (2009) and Hofschire & Wanucha (2014) and King (2012), I chose to evaluate the website of a public library using the following set of criteria for effective library website design.
Hobsons Bay Libraries homepage has a clear grid display and visitors can see at a glance what the library has to offer. The library logo and branding incorporates the pleasant colour scheme of the council logo. Directly below the logo is a prominent search box for the catalogue, website and Google. This search box is available on every page of the library website. The drop down menus, with descriptive headings, reveal a detailed breakdown of the library’s collections and programs. A side bar allows other entry points with the heading “I want to…” From here patrons can quickly find the hours, catalogue, renew books etc. Quality photographs illustrate the homepage and book covers promote aspects of the collection. The excellent use of photographs and book covers continues throughout the website along with other visual cues such as logos to direct patrons to collections and services. The website is responsive to mobile devices with a simplified tabbed version on the mobile phone and the option to switch to the standard view. A dedicated app would enhance the mobile experience.
Different patron groups are catered for with a children’s page that utilises bright colours and a youth page with a darker, edgier look appropriate for their audiences. Book groups, home library service and other languages are also catered for but with a plain look. These areas could be made more attractive, possibly with a blog structure.
User interaction is encouraged via social media and more traditional modes. These channels also extend the reach of the library into the community. The icons of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are displayed clearly so patrons can view them or choose to follow them. Looking at Twitter I found that the library also has an Instagram account. Instagram’s use is growing so it would be beneficial to promote this option with an icon on the homepage. Most of the communication was one way with the library promoting events and services. Management should investigate some new strategies for engaging with their patrons using new media.
According to my set of criteria the library website is well on its way to creating a positive customer experience and could be improved further by the library listening and engaging with their patrons and the community.
Written permission obtained from Hobsons Bay Libraries to display this image
Hofschire, L., & Wanucha, M. (2014). Public library websites and social media: What’s #trending now? Computers in Libraries, 34(8), 4-9.
King, D. L., &American Library, A. (2012). Running the digital branch: Guidelines for operating the library website. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
Although the video Building Academic Library 2.0 is aimed at academic libraries, there is valuable advice for other library sectors. As a teacher librarian at a secondary school I found the following five key pieces of advice by Meredith Farkas applied to my situation.
Use 2.0 tools to highlight collections Screencasting is excellent for creating “how to” guides. I currently use screencast-o-matic to produce my screencasts. Animoto is a great tool for promoting aspects of the library collection. Colleagues of mine use it to make book trailers. I would like to explore Animoto in more detail for my library. I like the idea of combining all videos created by the library on YouTube. Curation tools can improve access to online material. I have used Scoop.it for VCE English text resources and I am about to investigate curation tools in more depth for my INF506 assignment.
Don’t focus just on technologies It is important to provide a variety of resources. This is important in schools where students have diverse learning needs. To appeal to different audiences it is necessary to promote collections and services with a combination of technology, posters, brochures, written guides and printed booklists.
Develop a risk tolerant culture Farkas (2007) said “We don’t have to get it perfect”. This piece of advice is reassuring and I would like to share it with my colleagues. Too often I put off doing something because I am not satisfied that it is perfect and then it never gets done. My new mantra will be to take action, evaluate and make changes.
Collect knowledge internally This is an area I would like to improve in my work situation as knowledge is currently scattered with library staff spread over different campuses. Policy, procedures and training documentation could be shared using Google Drive or perhaps a wiki. My colleagues and I could share bibliographies, booklists, teaching ideas and more.
Time must be devoted to all this library 2.0 Time is always the enemy but it is essential in developing competency with web 2.0. Professional Learning is valued at my school so library staff could focus on certain web 2.0 tools. Staff should be given the opportunity to demonstrate tools at meetings and encouraged to collaborate on projects.
The documentary Frontline – Generation Like is a thought provoking look at how teenagers use and consume new media. Teenagers tell the world what they think through likes, retweets, views and follows. Companies are able to turn “the currency of likes turns into real currency”. Companies today believe the consumer is now their marketer and young people can sell a product for them and they employ complex marketing strategies to exploit this. Danah Boyd says in the documentary “Young people want attention and want validation and that’s not actually new” however the audience they can reach is much greater. Many of the teenagers interviewed speak of feeling empowered by using web 2.0 technologies. Some, such as Tyler Oakley understood that big business benefited from their activities and he used this to his advantage, but others were oblivious. I don’t believe this type if thinking is confined to teenagers. While some adults are suspicious of the ways companies such as Facebook and Google use their data, others do not give it a second thought.
Educators have an important role to play in teaching young people how to use social media safely and to question their relationship with it. I look forward to exploring this issue further throughout my studies.
Social networking involves people sharing their interests, ideas and opinions in a common space. Before the internet, this common space may have been at a dinner party, a work function or a club, but today it happens online. Over the last decade these online social networking spaces have evolved to cater for different environments, age groups, professions and interests. People are able to connect with their family, friends and colleagues over vast distances at very little cost.
My introduction to social networking technologies was Facebook in 2007. I joined because my friends invited me. I have just looked back at my early posts and I mostly shared photos of celebrations and holidays. My use of Facebook increased when I got an iPhone and an iPad. I belong to special interest groups for the sports and hobbies I enjoy, use it to plan social events, share interesting articles, videos and images. While I follow some professional bodies on Facebook, mostly it is a personal place and a way to stay in touch with my friends and family. As a teacher librarian I am very aware of my professional role and I have strict privacy settings.
My interest in photography meant that I was drawn to Flickr in 2008. I fell out of love with it for a while but have returned to using it. The pictures I post and the groups I belong to on Flickr are of a personal nature. I do use Flickr for work and study to source creative commons images.
At first I was sceptical of Twitter so I didn’t start using it until 2012. Encouraged by people in my personal learning network, I decided to lurk for a little while by following people in the library field. It wasn’t long before I got the courage to post some tweets and take part in a Twitter chat. I have found Twitter to be a great source of professional learning. More recently I started to follow many of my personal interests on Twitter and this year I will be using it for study purposes. Towards the end of 2014 I started a Twitter account for my school library.
I also dabble in Instagram, Diigo, Pinterest and Goodreads.
By completing INF506, I expect to learn how social networking can be implemented in a library setting. As a teacher librarian I hope to explore the impact social networking has on young people and how school libraries can best utilise it. While I am comfortable using many social network tools for personal use, I would like to learn more about the policy decisions that need to be considered in a library setting.
This is one of my photographs that reminded me of the Twiitter logo.