This week’s guest post comes from Luisa Cywinski, Access Services team leader at Falvey Memorial Library of Villanova University. She also serves as a member of the library’s Publication & Communication team, coordinating the library’s social media efforts and contributing to online and print publications. Feel free to contact Luisa on LinkedIn or via email at [email protected].
It’s no surprise that libraries have taken so readily to the internet. Not only do librarians use it to manage online resources, but now they can shout about services, events and staff without disturbing the patrons reading in the stacks. (Who says librarians prefer to whisper?)
We’ve all seen the librarian image of a quiet, bespectacled woman with her hair in a bun. It’s still a fairly common stereotype. And even though libraries have always been found on campus, few librarians felt the need to advertise them. Now that we have the power of social media on our side, it gives us a chance to update our image and build relationships.
To further illustrate why libraries should use social media, I refer to “The Ubiquitous Librarian” blog, written by Brian Mathews.
“Our purpose—the reason why we use the social web is to find people who “like” the library and give them a way to express it. We will use this platform to nurture that bond and move them from like to love. [Develop their passion.] We also want to enable them to share this experience and help bring others into this relationship.”
Connecting the physical & the virtual
Even with electronic access to almost everything, quite a few people spend a good bit of time in the library. Whether they’re studying, attending receptions or poetry readings, or playing Wii games in the 24-hour lounge, people use the library and we should be talking about it – on the library blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
Sure, the library patrons want books and articles too, so we can use social media to keep them informed of new ways to access all of that content.
Falvey Library’s Facebook page
Blogging and other forms of social media have given libraries a voice, and more importantly, a face, and the opportunity to make informal connections to students and other library friends.
Featuring photos of individuals and groups gives online visitors the feeling of being connected to the scholarly and social life of the library. Web banners used on the homepage, blog, and social media sites convey the diversity of our digital and physical collections and entice readers to attend special events.
For instance, the image below takes the reader to a special interest Digital Library blog.
Playing is important
Libraries can tap into the seasonal, cultural, and playful aspects of college life, connecting the library to other university entities and student interests. When using images on your Facebook or Twitter page, you can take advantage of existing social media trends, like memes or LOLcats.
Falvey Library LOLCat
Places like Goodreads, an online reading group, and Pinterest, an online pinboard (a.k.a. an image based social media site), have widened our view of outreach and communication. Every available outlet can be explored as a way of engaging users and inviting visitors to the library web site.
Falvey Library on GoodReads
Falvey Library on Pinterest
Tools of the trade
Using Hootsuite (mentioned in the Aug. 5 blog post) to manage Facebook posts and the Twitter feed, we’re free to focus on blog articles, event announcements or reporting. Another tool that comes in handy is ActiveCollab, a collaboration space we use to share blog articles, comments, and editing before they are published.
Of course, it helps to have talented, energetic people to create colorful banners (with QR codes that link to the blog), write interesting articles, and to make the most of social media in the library. Even if you don’t have a graphic artist on staff, use as many linked event photos and free image resources as you can to keep readers coming back to your blog and social media sites. (We use a free, open source product, Resource Space, to manage our images.)
You can also get the word out about your social media sites by using campus communication tools, like the campus email newsletter, campus portal, or the campus web site. The most important thing is to reach out and make the first move. And give us a shout if you have any questions!