Should libraries build a presence and provide services on popular social networking sites like Facebook?
I think that the question should rather be…why aren’t they already?
I only have to point to my own university as an example of why an online presence is possible and helpful in creating online communities. One of the SJSU Facebook pages that I have subscribed to is the SJSU School of Library and Information Science page. I like this page because it is specific towards the SLIS program and helps keep me informed on various things that are happening on and off campus. Other SJSU Facebook pages I have subscribed to are:
Actually in going back to gather these links I noticed that there were more SJSU Facebook pages that I didn’t know about:
SJSU SLIS Second Life (this one hasn’t been active since June 2010)
One thing I would have to say about some of these Facebook pages is that there could probably be more activity on them than there is now. I think one problem with pages is that there is a tendency for people to think that they do not have permission to post on the pages; or perhaps it is that people are using a page to keep an eye on upcoming events or on industry information and feel no need to post their own content. Whatever the reason for low participation on these pages, I do think they serve a vital purpose in disseminating information.
Besides pages on Facebook however, there are also groups that a library can use to create an online presence. The Society of American Archivists SJSU SLIS Student Chapter for example, is an open group that anybody can join and I like it because it almost has a community like feel to it, more so than the pages in my opinion. I think part of this can be attributed to the fact that in groups, members who post are recognizable by name and for the most part with a face. Content posted on pages on the other hand, is mostly done under the name of the institution rather than by a recognizable person.
In regards to creating library communities on Facebook I see more of a future with the use of groups; to me they seem more personal. Instead of a nameless librarian sporting the avatar of the institution as is the case with the pages, specific librarians could be admins in a group where everybody else was considered to be part of that group. As group work seems to be a trend especially in my own online learning environment I would think that fostering that same type of environment through Facebook groups would be a good thing to do, especially when it seems that so many people are spending so much time visiting this social networking community.
People are already on Facebook…for any library who isn’t I ask…why aren’t you?