What can information professionals do with social publishing tools other than marketing?

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Of course a lot of what businesses–libraries included–are going to do on social media is marketing. Letting patrons know about services you offer, physical and digital materials you have available, and programs that are coming up is a big part of what we do on social media, but wait–there’s more!

A big part of social media for everyone–individuals and businesses alike–is making connections. Libraries, just like everyone else using social media tools, should be liking (or the equivalent, depending on what platform you’re on) other people’s and groups’ posts, responding to and making comments, and building a sense of community among its followers and in its…well, community. I always try to respond as soon as I can to all of the comments that are made on our library’s Facebook page, whether or not what is posted is actually a question or just a simple comment. It’s both good business practice and common courtesy, both of which are important for libraries in connecting with their patrons and communities.

During one of the discussions we had in class a few weeks back, several of the students recommended having your library social media accounts follow/friend/like local business, government, and community accounts. Share their posts, and in so doing help your patrons to make larger connections to their community as well–it’s a virtual equivalent of the community bulletin boards we have out in our physical lobby.

Libraries can also use social media to connect with other libraries and other library professionals, both for the purpose of communication and sharing ideas. I love seeing what other libraries are doing, and using their ideas to spark my own (in case you missed it, last week’s post had some librarians’ and libraries’ blogs to follow that can get you started). Following information organization organizations and groups on social media can be another way the libraries and librarians can keep up to date with the latest topics and information related to their profession.

Content–giving followers something useful that has some value–is of course the number one rule. Beyond that, though, libraries should also post fun and entertaining posts as well. One of the early Facebook posts that received the most likes and comments on our library’s page was posted on one of the first snowy days of the season:

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Technically that post would probably be considered “marketing”, since I wrote “Sound advice! We’re open until 8 PM :)” with it, but really, I just wanted to make people smile when I posted that picture. If they also came in and checked out some materials as well, that would just be a nice bonus. And no, it’s not my sign–I found it through a Google image search with the “labeled for reuse” filter applied. I’d seen a similar image elsewhere a year or so before and thought it would be the perfect image to post since our first major snowstorm was supposedly on its way. Someday, though, I’ll probably put our own sign out there with a similar sentiment…it just didn’t feel like this year was snowy enough.

Yet. Because now this is on its way:

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So, maybe in a day or two? At least we’re not in any of the pink areas…

 

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Library vs. Librarian Blogs: Is one Better than the other?

Blog concept

I did a Google search as part of a class discussion this weekend looking for “library blogs”. Nearly all of the sites that came up on the first page of results were for blogs run by individual librarians–or lists of “best” blogs that were mostly written by individual librarians–rather than blogs that were sponsored by entire library systems. In fact, in the first ten results, one link was for the blogs (yes, plural) of the New York Public Library system (hereafter, NYPL) and another was a list of mostly school library blogs with a few librarians and public libraries thrown in as well.

I haven’t yet had a chance to follow all of the links–most of the list posts had 20+ sites listed–but I did find some interesting ones that sparked some ideas for me.

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A collaborative project called HackLibrarySchool, which has twelve+ library school students contributing to it at any one time, caught my interest right away. (Right now it has three editors and twelve contributing writers, according to the site.) They talk about libraries, library programming, applying to library schools, “hacking” library school programs (both generally and specific schools), and just about books and life in general. They post a weekly round up of library-related news and posts that they’ve found, and they also have a brand new Twitter chat feature that just began last month. It’s a really neat example of a group of writers with similar yet different experiences coming together to write on a single platform, and it’s a great resource–one I wish I’d found three semesters ago!

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If you’re going for a general feeling of OMG, can you imagine the manpower and coordination that would take? then you should check out the NYPL blog channels page. So. Many. Blogs. So. Many. Bloggers. There’s one for just about every aspect of the library you can think of, including one dedicated to Women’s History Month that is a “series of posts highlighting the many amazing women they’ve discovered through the print and online resources of The New York Public Library” (New York Public Library, 2017). Some years have a lot of posts (2015 had eleven) and others not so much (only one for 2014) but by and large they all look to be very interesting. My personal favorite, Wonder Woman, comes up at least twice. So far they haven’t posted anything new this year, but the month is still young! I’ve subscribed to their RSS feed, so I’ll know as soon as something is posted.

I found Mr.Library Dude‘s blog, who has a whole post on creating a “READ” business card holder using a makerspace 3D printer (and links to the files he created in making his own, that you can download and use for free! Must try out at the Launch Pad at the Central branch of my library system), and another on the library in the prison in the show Orange is the New Black. Okay, I totally wanted to read the book and watch the show before, but now I have to, just to see how it compares to my last job at the library in our county’s correctional facility (and yes, I was one of two individuals in the library at any given time who wasn’t wearing orange. Actually, I couldn’t wear orange to work…not that this was a hardship).

I also found Screwy Decimal, whose sense of humor is absolutely fantastic, as you can tell by her blog name. She just wrote her first picture book, Edward Gets Messy, which sounds absolutely adorable but that our library system doesn’t have (must. Fix. This.) and which–wait for it–the actual ELMO came to her library and read out loud with some patrons. (Really! You can see a picture here. Why aren’t I a librarian in Brooklyn, where Sesame Street characters can just wander in willy nilly off the street? Wait–do you think she works on Sesame Street???)

Going back to the topic of my last job for a moment, I also found a school library, the Castilleja School Library, that had a book drive for their local prison. I found this to be very.cool, and am seriously considering it in the future. We do, after all, have not one but two (county and state) prisons within my library’s zip code, not to mention an entire department (linked above) in our system that works with those and other institutional libraries. I already donate some of our dusty list/weeded books to the cause and may or may not snag some from our library’s used book sale stash on occasion, but trust me, they always need new books out there. Always. And you can’t go wrong with anything written by (or supposedly written by–don’t get me started on that topic) James Patterson.

As a book review blogger (my “other” blog can be found here) I’ve toyed with the idea of blogging as a librarian too–either on my regular blog, or on a new designated one–though not until grad school is (finally!) over. I’m still thinking about it, but these blogs and the others I’ve yet to discover are definitely inspirational. I think I’d be more comfortable blogging as me, the librarian, rather than doing a blog for my library. I’m more comfortable being me than having to be thinking about “being the library” for yet another social media format–I’m still hoping that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr (assuming I ever figure out those last two, and supposing nothing else is going to come along in the social media world in the meantime–yeah, I know, like that’s going to happen) will be enough for me to do as “the library”.

So…what about you? Any favorite library or librarian blogs? Do you or have you ever considered writing one yourself? Tell me about it!

Here’s the list (in many cases, it’s a list of lists) of what I found while researching “library blogs”:

Five Librarian Bloggers to Follow (Information Today, Inc.)

Top School Library Blogs (Teacher Certification Degrees)

5 Library Blogs to Follow (Library Science Degree)

Blogs by and for Librarians (Public Libraries Online)

Top 25 Librarian Bloggers (By the Numbers) (Open Education Database)

23 Great Library Blogs (The Edublogger)

NYPL blogs (New York Public Library)

NYPL. (2017). Women’s History Month | The New York Public Library. Retrieved from https://www.nypl.org/voices/blogs/blog-channels/womens-history