Thursday, September 25, 2008

Libraries and SNS

There was definitely food for thought in these articles on libraries and social networking sites. The main theme seemed to be that librarians felt the need to have a presence on these sites in order to reach out to patrons (in most cases they were academic librarians talking about students) but weren't sure about the ethics of the whole thing or how to go about it. One comment that was made several times was that if the library put up a page on MySpace or Facebook just to be 'cool' it was pretty much a waste of time, but if they enabled patrons to interact, make suggestions and comments and gain access to resources, it was a valuable communication tool. Library websites also need to become more like Google, Flickr etc and be more particpatory and interactive in the way most Web 2.0 sites are. The most interesting point made in the articles I read was about the advisability of entering into theses sites which could almost be seen as invading the territory of 'young people' (the majority of users being teenagers) and could be regarded as unwelcome. Someone also made the comment that if too many libraries etc from outside the usual peer group got on board with SNS that they might become too mainstream and teenagers would lose interest and find some other way of networking.

So do I think libraries should get involved in SNS? Yes, as they certainly open up a whole new way of communicating with patrons and disseminating information, and contacting people where they are rather than waiting for them to contact the library. However I also agree that we need to do it properly or not at all, and this will take time and thought.

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