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.
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.