Prior to studying INF506 Social Networking for Information Professionals, my views on social media were generally positive, however I found myself increasingly weary of participating personally on social networking sites. In particular I disliked using Facebook. I knew that Facebook was the most popular social media website and it was because of that I found myself disliking the website. Everyone I knew was on it and I was constantly getting tagged by friends and family members in either memes I’d already seen, or in embarrassing photos from five years ago. There were friend’s political posts that quickly turned into online spats and boring baby shower photos constantly clogging up my feed. I did not enjoy the content I was seeing on Facebook, so I stopped using it in late 2017.
Then I enrolled in INF506. When I saw I would have to participate in a Facebook page I rolled my eyes. I thought “great, now uni is making me use Facebook, I can’t escape it!” After being accepted into the group on Facebook I reluctantly posted a brief introduction to myself to the group as instructed. I believe I made the post around 10pm. Then next morning when I woke up and looked at my phone I saw I had several notification from Facebook. Clicking on them I saw they were all likes on my introduction. I felt quite chuffed as I hadn’t written anything particularly interesting or witty about myself, it was just my fellow students being nice.
As the weeks went on, I found myself checking on the Facebook group more regularly. Unlike what I usually saw on Facebook, the information I was getting off the INF506 group was interesting and relevant to me and my interests. While I didn’t always comment on posts, I tried to make a conscious effort to read everything posted, like posts and read articles that fellow students posted. I began to realise that the actually website Facebook wasn’t what I’d dislike, it had been the content I was seeing. I realised I had the ability to change what I saw on social media and that I could change my social media experiences and overall social networking on the platform a lot more.
Thinking of Facebook in particular, I now see how useful it is for libraries to be a part of a platform is so widely used. In the United States Facebook is the most popular social media website with nearly 79% of the internet using population saying they use Facebook (Joo, Choi and Baek, 2018, p.941). In Australia the Digital Me report, by the Australian Psychological Society stated that nine out of ten Australians, aged 14 and over, use social media and that 90% of Australians surveyed in the report used social media; with Facebook being the most popular social media platforms used (Australian Psychological Society, 2017, p.4). It makes sense libraries are using this platform to connect with library users.
Librarians can use social media platforms to provide short insights into the daily work that goes on in libraries and can be useful tools when it comes to promoting issues like budges, staffing and programming. This promotion through social media can pay off when challenges to budget, staffing, or programming arise (Levitov and Kaaland, 2017, p.7). If libraries have a vibrant social media platform, and users know they will get a response if they send the library a message on a particular platform, this can help develop relationships between both current library users and those yet to access its services.
I have increased my engagement with Facebook due to INF506 and I had been following the Libraries Tasmania Facebook page for a while but I am now making an effort to check the page weekly for any new developments. I have also taken a far greater interest in libraries accounts on Twitter. I enjoy reading about what these leading libraries are doing and seeing how they interact with users online. Some of the great library accounts I am now follow on Twitter include:
- The Library of Congress (https://twitter.com/librarycongress)
- The National Library of Australia (https://twitter.com/nlagovau?lang=en)
- The British Library (https://twitter.com/britishlibrary)
My favourite social media platform is Reddit, so I checked there to see if there were any subreddits about libraries and I was happy to find there were. I find subbreddits a usual source of information if I have any questions pertaining to the field as Reddit is a fairly anonymous platform and I felt comfortable asking questions there. I subscribed to the following:
- Libraries – a subreddit with general discussions about libraries anywhere in the world (https://www.reddit.com/r/Libraries/)
- Librarians- a subreddit for librarians to discuss topics regarding their profession https://www.reddit.com/r/librarians/
- Library Displays – a subreddit were people can share pictures of great library displays. I was happy to find since creating nice displays is one of my weaknesses! (https://www.reddit.com/r/LibraryDisplays/)
- Library Science- a subreddit for librarians and information science students (https://www.reddit.com/r/LibraryScience/)
On Instagram I have made an effort to follow hashtags that will give me display ideas and inspiration such as:
- #libraryporn (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/libraryporn/)
- #librarydisplay (https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/librarydisplay/)
On Pinterest I followed other librarians who were sharing library resources such as:
- The Trapped Librarian who has a treasure trove of resources for children’s and youth adults librarianship (https://www.pinterest.com.au/trappedlibrary/?eq=libraries&etslf=12688)
- Gloucestershire Libraries has fast become one of my favourite library accounts on Pinterest due to its quirky and fun posts, such as its Book Blend board, which shows photos of librarians and library users posing in manners that blend themselves into book covers (https://www.pinterest.com.au/readiscover/?eq=libraries&etslf=8735)
As an information professional I believe it is important to have a general idea what some of the biggest libraries around the world are doing, therefore I am making an effort to follow more of them on Twitter. Reddit is giving me platforms were I can enquire and see what my fellow librarians and information professional students are dealing with. Pinterest and Instagram are useful ways of finding gorgeous book display inspiration and resources for promoting library events and use.
Prior to studying INF506 I had limited experiences with blogs before starting mine. Therefore I was apprehensive when I started constructing and writing my OLJ however I quickly started to enjoy the process. The writing process felt comfortable as it was not a traditional essay format and I could do it in the first person. It feels as if I am explaining what I am learning and discovering to a friend, in easy to understand language. I hope it is evident in my writing that the more blogs I wrote, the better I got at writing them. I also found that writing in 350 or 400 word blog posts mean I had to really think about what I wanted to say and get my message across in a clear and succinct manner.
Doing OLJ meant I had to go back over the weeks work and re-read certain articles, re-watch some YouTube videos and it all aided me getting a better understanding of the subject. In the future I will need to have better time management skills so I don’t end up writing my blogs so close together, but I did find that this help me tie certain points together between blogs as the material was still fresh in my mind.
The experience of conducting and research and completing assessment 3 proved to be a big learning curve for me. I believe I had a good idea when it came to my topic but my execution of the case study lacked focus. The task made it clear to me the importance of having a clear focus on when setting out to present information. This will make it easier when it comes to gathering data and building a strong case. Doing the case study has shown me that I need to work on developing a critical eye so I don’t repeat myself and leave readers unsure of the direction of my work.
In conclusion, studying INF506 has had a positive impact on my development as an information professional. It has shown me how my personal biases lead to me discrediting social media platforms as a useful tool for libraries. It has shown me how libraries value their ability to communicate with library patrons easily and completing the subject’s tasks have shown me the importance of communicating data with clarity. I have enjoyed doing the subject and hope I can take what I have learnt from it onto my next subjects and into the workforce.
Australian Psychological Society. (2017). Digital me: a survey exploring the effect of social media and digital technology on Australians’ wellbeing. Retrieved from http://apo.org.au/system/files/118961/apo-nid118961-476921.pdf
Joo, S, Choi, N and Baek, T., H. (2018). Library marketing via social media. Online Information Review, 42(6), 940-955. doi: https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-10-2017-0288
Levitov, D., & Kaaland, C. (2017, 06). Using the power of social media. Teacher Librarian, 44, 6-7. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/1925376495?accountid=10344