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#8 Social Networking

2009 August 8
by naomi

What is a social networking site?
Watch the video below to get a quick overview.

You’ve heard of FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. Social networking has created powerful new ways to communicate and share information. These websites are being used by millions of people everyday, and are becoming part of daily life.

Why should you know about social networking sites?

Social networks are becoming THE way to socialize and exchange ideas, especially for young adults and college students. Knowing about them and using them can help libraries network and outreach to a wider population.

Social networking is unbelievably popular. According to Wikipedia’s List of Social Networking Sites, as of March 2011, Facebook had over 640,000,000 users.

The reality is that many younger users come to the library specifically to check Facebook and other social media sites. These users are our customers, and we should not only know that they’re using these networks, but understand how these networks work.

Libraries on social networking sites
Many libraries are using Facebook to set up profiles and highlight their services, events and resources. You can also send out event invitations, post information to your blog, and send out bulletins. Many libraries feel that they reach a completely different audience through these social networking sites.

Many libraries are also using Twitter for library promotion and to keep users updated and connected — you’ll read a great article about innovative ways to use Twitter in the Discovery Exercise.

Here are some great examples of library pages and/or groups on Facebook:

And here are some examples of libraries using Twitter:


Discovery Exercise

  1. Watch this highly informative screencast on Facebook Pages basics created for libraries by David Lee King for ALA’s Annual Conference in 2009.
  2. Read one or both of these articles that discuss ways that libraries are using social networking sites:
  3. Explore the Facebook pages for these libraries: Texas Tech University Library and Austin Public Library .
  4. Take a peek at the recent Twitter feeds from The PCL Library at UT Austin and the Library of Congress.
  5. Learn “How Your Library May Not Be Using Twitter But Should“.
  6. Read one or two of the following articles about social networking sites and online privacy:
  7. Gain some insight on how some librarians today are managing their professional and personal identities online. (Many are finding that a best practice is to have either just a professional profile OR to keep their professional profile entirely separate from their personal one.)
  8. Only if you have read the privacy articles above and would like the experience of creating your own profile on a social networking site — sign up for a personal Facebook (aka FB) account and become a fan of Library Development on Facebook. (If you have privacy concerns, you could create an account under an alias or pen name, but if you don’t want anyone to find you through your email address, make sure you use an email address that you do not usually distribute.) Once you’ve created a profile and looked around a bit, leave a short blog post (in Facebook go to Applications, then Notes.) However, if you absolutely don’t wish to create a profile on either site, that’s perfectly fine, too.
  9. The final part of this exercise is to write about this experience in your blog. (Please include “Method 8” in the title of your post.) Consider some of these questions as you reflect on this two-stepping method: How do you feel about social networking sites in general? Do you have privacy concerns and/or concerns about keeping your personal life separate from your professional life in the online environment? Is your library already using some of these social networking tools and if not, do you see potential uses for any of these tools in your library? Finally, if you created a Facebook profile and you don’t mind sharing it with everyone, include a link to it from your blog post.


More information for the curious


  • home pages and profiles
  • ability to find other users
  • status updates
  • inbox
  • groups you can join
  • events you can post
  • ability to add photos and videos to your profile
  • bulletin board features that display what your friends are up to and what they have posted
  • fun applications
  • ability to add music to your profile
  • you can tag a person in a photo on Facebook, and people can find people in photos by these tags. (However, it is good to always ask for permission before tagging photos with people’s names — not everyone wants to have their photos shared and/or searchable online.)
  • you can display who you are in a relationship with as long as the other person confirms the relationship. (However, when you change your relationship status, all of your contacts receive an update about it unless you have changed that setting within your profile.)
  • you can buy and sell anything you want on Facebook through Facebook Marketplace.

The Impact of Social Networking

Social networking can have a significant impact. Read The Online Fan World of the Twilight Vampire Books to get an idea of the power of social networks.

Finished learning this Two-Stepping Method? When you’re ready, move on to Method 9.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. November 5, 2009

    The idea of Social Networking is a great concept. Students have embraced this tool with passion. It seems they need to tell everyone what they are doing every minute of the day.

    I like aspects of Social Networking from a library point of view. Twitter is a great resource, but it seems more for public libraries that have a great deal of change daily. Our changes are more of a weekly basis, e.g. workshops, etc. so that is something we can use FaceBook.

  2. Mary permalink
    February 22, 2010

    Personally, I do not care for the social networking thing. For me, and I did try it once, it was too much of an invasion of my privacy. If I want to connect with someone, I’ll seek them out; don’t broadcast my whereabouts to every living being on the planet.
    Professionally, I can see this as an asset to getting the library’s name and activities and collections out to the public.

  3. Demetria Williams permalink
    February 27, 2010

    One of my favorite steps. My former high school classmates and I used Facebook to reconnect and plan our 30th High School reunion. I love social networking, but I am careful about the information that I place on Facebook, due to privacy and security concerns.

  4. Juanita Hazelton permalink
    February 28, 2010

    I have personal accounts with Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter.
    I use the Facebook account to communicate with family and friends, post pictures, keep up with whatever they are doing. I don’t play the games or send the gifts. I don’t want to allow applications access to my contact list. I was glad to read the articles on privacy since I am concerned with it. I don’t like the thought of some of my contacts releasing my contact information to other apps.

    I will set up a library account on facebook. Our Teen Council already has one on MySpace.

  5. August 19, 2011

    Our library has links for FB and Twitter.

    I have maintained FB and Twitter accounts for years. I rarely use FB. Too much unsolicited nonsense.

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