Why Do You Want to Put Stuff There?
I once had someone ask me, “Why would your library want to bother with activity on those social networking sites? I mean, you’re an academic library. What’s the point?” I should also point out that this person was from an academic community. This person saw such activities as (1) steering the attention of our users (mainly students and faculty) away from meaningful content towards superficial status updates, tweets, captioned pics, and the like and (2) taking time away from populating, maintaining, and improving the library’s primary online presence (library website, online catalog, electronic resource offerings, etc.). This person was thinking that–for the library–anything worth using or making available online should be built into the library’s own research-oriented website–not cast out like pearls before swine on the recreational internet platforms of others. Bottom line: This person did not see the value.
I was reminded of that encounter last week while reading the book, Googled: The End of the World as We Know It, by Ken Auletta. In the book, Auletta “uses the story of Google’s rise to explore the inner workings of the company and the future of the media at large” (book jacket). The book frequently addresses the effect that the new media (digital, internet-centric) is having on the old media (TV, radio, all things print: newspapers/magazines/books, movie & music studios). At one point, Auletta quotes Quincy Smith of CBS speaking about the survival of old media:
“All of us–broadcasters, cable networks, Hollywood studios–have to display our content on multiple platforms, be it YouTube, TV.com, Hulu, MySpace, or iTunes. We need to use these platforms to promote our content and drive audiences, particularly younger audiences, to our primary platform.“ [emphasis mine]
Smith was speaking of media companies, but this quote could just as easily be addressing today’s libraries. A library’s use of a Facebook fan page or Twitter account is not intended to replace the “traditional” library website or devalue it. On the contrary, it is meant to increase the library’s presence on the web, make connections with existing (and potential) library users, raise awareness of library resources and services, and–just perhaps–put some of those resources and services into play by drawing users to where they are.
Being social is a natural tendency for people. As a rule of thumb, people are drawn to social spaces–both physical and virtual. Why not libraries? Why not put stuff out there to connect with people, promote what we have to offer, and lead people to some of those delicious treats on our library website platter?
Gotta go. It’s time for me to tweet about a news story announcing a new electronic resource we provide on our library website.
Pic by 10ch
John Kennerly...library director, technology dabbler, and information handler. More bio
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