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David Lee King

Thinking about MySpace and other Free Third-Party Services



I have a MySpace account. I have signed up, posted a blog, and started gathering friends. I even uploaded a video. It’s sorta cool, and I can see the networking opportunities in it for people. And I can also see how a library could use this type of social networking service to post events, get out info on new materials, etc.

But I do have one observation to make. When setting up a free account in something like MySpace that runs on ad revenue, a library needs to consider the ramifications of what their customers might see (and then click on, thinking it’s from the library).

Here are some examples:

myspace ads screenshot 2

Woo hoo! The library’s giving away FREE iPODS!!!

myspace ads screenshot 4

Wow – the library MUST think this new realtor site is useful, because they’re advertising it on their site…

myspace ads screenshot 5

Great – my computer is having problems, and the library is recommending this computer repair service…

myspace ads screenshot 3

Sorry – this one’s for comic relief… those two people in the Classmates ad have to be THE MOST FAMOUS FACES ON THE WEB…

myspace ads screenshot 1

Not for comic relief – especially when a parent calls with a complaint because their child just ended up at that intimate dating online service that your library just offered him/her for free… OK – get my point?
Am I saying that free things like MySpace, Flickr, Blogs, Wikis, etc are bad? No way! But I am saying that these new services need to fit into your library’s plan… don’t just set one up to “see what happens” or “just for kicks.” Think through a few things first:

  • What does your library plan to offer using this new service?
  • What are the library’s goals for establishing this new service?
  • Can the advertising be minimized by paying a fee or by choosing certain categories?
  • Does the service meet the library’s strategic goals?
  • Who’s going to maintain this new service?
  • And most important: if it’s successful – what’s next?

If you answer some of these questions early on, you’ll be prepared – prepared to fully offer services using this new environment; and prepared when someone DOES call because they didn’t understand it really wasn’t your library offering those free iPods… ahem…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://theshiftedlibrarian.com/ Jenny Levine

    One thing I noted at http://www.theshiftedlibrarian.com/archives/2006/05/21/a_gaggle_of_schools.html is that schools (and even public libraries) can use the ads as teaching moments, which makes things a little more practical. But yeah, good points. :)

  • http://theshiftedlibrarian.com/ Jenny Levine

    One thing I noted at http://www.theshiftedlibrarian.com/archives/2006/05/21/a_gaggle_of_schools.html is that schools (and even public libraries) can use the ads as teaching moments, which makes things a little more practical. But yeah, good points. :)

  • Michael Stephens

    Great stuff David… I’d noticed that dating ad as well and was mulling it over…

  • Michael Stephens

    Great stuff David… I’d noticed that dating ad as well and was mulling it over…

  • http://blog.skagirlie.net/ maire

    THANK YOU! There are many reasons why SJCPL doesn’t have a MySpace yet. This is near the top of the list.

    Another thing to note, you can’t control your friends’ userpics. Does the library really need “arty” userpics connected to it?

  • http://blog.skagirlie.net maire

    THANK YOU! There are many reasons why SJCPL doesn’t have a MySpace yet. This is near the top of the list.

    Another thing to note, you can’t control your friends’ userpics. Does the library really need “arty” userpics connected to it?

  • http://www.goblin-cartoons.com/library/ joshua m. neff

    Great points.

    But I have to ask: you’re really friends with Lisa Loeb? Think you can introduce me?

  • http://www.goblin-cartoons.com/library/ joshua m. neff

    Great points.

    But I have to ask: you’re really friends with Lisa Loeb? Think you can introduce me?

  • davidleeking

    Hee – that’d be cool. No, I have never met Lisa Loeb. But I did troll a couple of favorite musician MySpace sites and ask to be marked as “friends.” Lisa was one of those… :-)

  • davidleeking

    Hee – that’d be cool. No, I have never met Lisa Loeb. But I did troll a couple of favorite musician MySpace sites and ask to be marked as “friends.” Lisa was one of those… :-)

  • http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/ Meredith

    VERY good point! Also, have you seen their Terms of Use? http://collect.myspace.com/misc/terms.html?z=1 (see Proprietary Rights in Content on MySpace.com). WOWZA! They basically can do whatever they want with whatever you put up there. 43 Things is the same way. Have to say, that’s a little scary, especially for people putting photos, videos and original music up there. That’s not to say that I think libraries shouldn’t be in MySpace (some are creating very useful “portals” to their library on MySpace), but with any third-party application/site, there should be some considerations about the terms of service, advertising, and what sort of message it sends having a library presence on the site.

  • http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/ Meredith

    VERY good point! Also, have you seen their Terms of Use? http://collect.myspace.com/misc/terms.html?z=1 (see Proprietary Rights in Content on MySpace.com). WOWZA! They basically can do whatever they want with whatever you put up there. 43 Things is the same way. Have to say, that’s a little scary, especially for people putting photos, videos and original music up there. That’s not to say that I think libraries shouldn’t be in MySpace (some are creating very useful “portals” to their library on MySpace), but with any third-party application/site, there should be some considerations about the terms of service, advertising, and what sort of message it sends having a library presence on the site.

  • http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/ Meredith

    d’oh, I meant portals to their Web content. that’ll teach me not to type and eat soup at the same time ;)

    OOOH… I love Lisa Loeb… I even watched her cheesy single girl in the city show on E!

  • http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/ Meredith

    d’oh, I meant portals to their Web content. that’ll teach me not to type and eat soup at the same time ;)

    OOOH… I love Lisa Loeb… I even watched her cheesy single girl in the city show on E!

  • dave free

    Very good points indeed! The ad issue is something the kinda bugs me about an “offical” library presence on 3rd party sites.

    For some reason that Lisa Loeb dating show came up when I was on vacation!

  • dave free

    Very good points indeed! The ad issue is something the kinda bugs me about an “offical” library presence on 3rd party sites.

    For some reason that Lisa Loeb dating show came up when I was on vacation!

  • http://www.laughinglibrarian.com Brian

    David’s questions for planning are certainly good ones, and we should try to minimize or eliminate ads in our online presence, but I’m not sure fear of ignorance ought to play a big part in our decisionmaking. As far as I can tell, when it comes to people making that unfortunate connection between the MySpace ads and the library, David is using his imaginaaaaaaation. (That’s my SpongeBob imitation!)

    Instead of dealing with hypothetical idiots or n00bs, why not start with the proposition that almost everyone who visits MySpace knows what a banner ad is? We don’t fret that there are ads in the magazines in the library, and we *pay* for those.

    In any case, I don’t see anything in the MySpace TOS which prohibits a disclaimer in one’s profile. “You probably know this, but the Library has nothing to do with the ads in MySpace.” Or something like that.

    Of course, I’d rather have the option available to buy an ad-free premium account. It would also be neat if the choices for a profile’s Income line included levels appropriate for (larger) libraries’ annual budgets.

  • http://www.laughinglibrarian.com/ Brian

    David’s questions for planning are certainly good ones, and we should try to minimize or eliminate ads in our online presence, but I’m not sure fear of ignorance ought to play a big part in our decisionmaking. As far as I can tell, when it comes to people making that unfortunate connection between the MySpace ads and the library, David is using his imaginaaaaaaation. (That’s my SpongeBob imitation!)

    Instead of dealing with hypothetical idiots or n00bs, why not start with the proposition that almost everyone who visits MySpace knows what a banner ad is? We don’t fret that there are ads in the magazines in the library, and we *pay* for those.

    In any case, I don’t see anything in the MySpace TOS which prohibits a disclaimer in one’s profile. “You probably know this, but the Library has nothing to do with the ads in MySpace.” Or something like that.

    Of course, I’d rather have the option available to buy an ad-free premium account. It would also be neat if the choices for a profile’s Income line included levels appropriate for (larger) libraries’ annual budgets.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com/ David King

    Good points, Brian. I was going to extremes to make my points, one being that there probably ARE some people who haven’t yet visited myspace. And when they do, and see a library website (because that’s what it will look like), and see a banner ad… it’ll look like the ad was purchased by the library.

    Not a big deal… but then again, it’s all about visual presentation. How do you want your digital library to visually look? Even your library’s third-party services, like a MySpace account?

    In my library, I can guarantee that certain library administrators / board members would ask those questions (so we’d better have a reasonable anser already planned out).

    My other point is that no one cares about the ads… that is, until they are swindled or offended. And unfortunately there are LOTS of people who click through the ads and give real money somewhere along the line. That’s when they’ll come back to you.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com David King

    Good points, Brian. I was going to extremes to make my points, one being that there probably ARE some people who haven’t yet visited myspace. And when they do, and see a library website (because that’s what it will look like), and see a banner ad… it’ll look like the ad was purchased by the library.

    Not a big deal… but then again, it’s all about visual presentation. How do you want your digital library to visually look? Even your library’s third-party services, like a MySpace account?

    In my library, I can guarantee that certain library administrators / board members would ask those questions (so we’d better have a reasonable anser already planned out).

    My other point is that no one cares about the ads… that is, until they are swindled or offended. And unfortunately there are LOTS of people who click through the ads and give real money somewhere along the line. That’s when they’ll come back to you.

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com/ K.G. Schneider

    The online ad issue is a non-starter for me due to our user survey this year, which demonstrated a very high comfort zone with online ads on our own website. That is NOT what I would have predicted. I’m a little saddened by those results, but there you are.

    On the other hand, establishing a sustainable service is a biggy, as your questions suggest. You *could* start a service “just for kicks” if that’s how you announced it: “Petticoat Junction Public Library will have a MySpace portal for its summer reading program. Here’s how you get to it. Here’s what it will do. In August we will close down the portal and evaluate its use. We may have a permanent MySpace portal in the future.”

    If you did that, you’d still need (again, as you’re implying): the meatware (human staff) to support it, monitor it, market it, etc.; this may not require a massive investment, but there needs to be a commitment. This is a *financial* commitment. It could be quite a good commitment, and real bang for the buck, but the time, which is money, to do this has to come from somewhere.

    In my imaginary middle-manager position I seem to be in here (Second Life David Lee King? :) ), I’d find a middle ground and say, if the librarians were enthusiastic about the project and could see ways it tied in with library services, even if these weren’t fully articulated, that would be enough for a pilot project. You just don’t know where a project will go when you start it, and sometimes you have to give the creative glimmer a chance. Far too many good ideas have died in committees where librarians had to worry them to death. But by the end of the pilot, the library should have enough information to begin to formulate decisions. (Even the decision to NOT close the summer reading portal; it wouldn’t be the first time a project with a definite twilight was announced with the idea that if it worked, you’d continue it. I think many TV programs work that way. :> )

    Of course, the library may want to do many OTHER neat things, and limits to time and energy will force prioritization.

    In any event, I’m for taking a few cautious chances, in a strategically savvy manner.

  • http://freerangelibrarian.com K.G. Schneider

    The online ad issue is a non-starter for me due to our user survey this year, which demonstrated a very high comfort zone with online ads on our own website. That is NOT what I would have predicted. I’m a little saddened by those results, but there you are.

    On the other hand, establishing a sustainable service is a biggy, as your questions suggest. You *could* start a service “just for kicks” if that’s how you announced it: “Petticoat Junction Public Library will have a MySpace portal for its summer reading program. Here’s how you get to it. Here’s what it will do. In August we will close down the portal and evaluate its use. We may have a permanent MySpace portal in the future.”

    If you did that, you’d still need (again, as you’re implying): the meatware (human staff) to support it, monitor it, market it, etc.; this may not require a massive investment, but there needs to be a commitment. This is a *financial* commitment. It could be quite a good commitment, and real bang for the buck, but the time, which is money, to do this has to come from somewhere.

    In my imaginary middle-manager position I seem to be in here (Second Life David Lee King? :) ), I’d find a middle ground and say, if the librarians were enthusiastic about the project and could see ways it tied in with library services, even if these weren’t fully articulated, that would be enough for a pilot project. You just don’t know where a project will go when you start it, and sometimes you have to give the creative glimmer a chance. Far too many good ideas have died in committees where librarians had to worry them to death. But by the end of the pilot, the library should have enough information to begin to formulate decisions. (Even the decision to NOT close the summer reading portal; it wouldn’t be the first time a project with a definite twilight was announced with the idea that if it worked, you’d continue it. I think many TV programs work that way. :> )

    Of course, the library may want to do many OTHER neat things, and limits to time and energy will force prioritization.

    In any event, I’m for taking a few cautious chances, in a strategically savvy manner.

  • http://libraryland.coollibrarian.com/ Jessica

    I doubt we will be having a MySpace presence anytime soon – we block MySpace entirely at our library (unfortunately). I just starting using the MySpace profile that I set up 3 years ago – until recently, I didn’t see anyone over 30 on it. (http://www.myspace.com/coollibrarian – I’d love more library friends!)

    I met Lisa Loeb about 3 years ago at a concert – she’s really cool.

  • http://libraryland.coollibrarian.com Jessica

    I doubt we will be having a MySpace presence anytime soon – we block MySpace entirely at our library (unfortunately). I just starting using the MySpace profile that I set up 3 years ago – until recently, I didn’t see anyone over 30 on it. (http://www.myspace.com/coollibrarian – I’d love more library friends!)

    I met Lisa Loeb about 3 years ago at a concert – she’s really cool.

  • http://www.laughinglibrarian.com/ Brian

    I just had an idea: Offer a long, narrow graphic (the image would need to be fun and/or funny) as an “ad hider”. Instructions would say to print, cut to size, and tape onto the screen over banner ads you don’t want to see. No one would do this, of course, but the library would be acknowledging the presence of the ads and its preference they weren’t there in a way that keeps things in perspective. Probably get a little publicity over the goofy stunt, too. Change the image regularly.

  • http://www.laughinglibrarian.com Brian

    I just had an idea: Offer a long, narrow graphic (the image would need to be fun and/or funny) as an “ad hider”. Instructions would say to print, cut to size, and tape onto the screen over banner ads you don’t want to see. No one would do this, of course, but the library would be acknowledging the presence of the ads and its preference they weren’t there in a way that keeps things in perspective. Probably get a little publicity over the goofy stunt, too. Change the image regularly.

  • http://library.coloradocollege.edu/steve/ Steve Lawson

    Michael Stephens said: “I’d noticed that dating ad as well and was mulling it over…”

    Oh, Michael, please. There are better ways to meet women. IM me, we’ll talk.

  • http://library.coloradocollege.edu/steve/ Steve Lawson

    Michael Stephens said: “I’d noticed that dating ad as well and was mulling it over…”

    Oh, Michael, please. There are better ways to meet women. IM me, we’ll talk.

  • http://www.goblin-cartoons.com/library/ joshua m. neff

    Oh, Michael, please. There are better ways to meet women. IM me, we’ll talk.

    You mean like Friendster?

  • http://www.goblin-cartoons.com/library/ joshua m. neff

    Oh, Michael, please. There are better ways to meet women. IM me, we’ll talk.

    You mean like Friendster?

  • http://www.chamberlain.net.nz/blog Simon

    OOOH… I love Lisa Loeb… I even watched her cheesy single girl in the city show on E!

    You publicly admit to taking drugs? [sorry ;)]

    On-topic, I think Brian’s suggestion for a disclaimer is a good idea. It may seem obvious to most of us that the library isn’t endorsing those ads. But then, it seems obvious to most of us not to click on spam or respond to 419 letters – and people do (I’ve had to tell workmates of mine not to respond to 419 scams, and these are intelligent, educated people….).

    You don’t want to not do something out of fear of the reaction of the most ignorant member of your community. But you probably want to cover yourself, as a way of managing the risk of that reaction.

  • http://www.chamberlain.net.nz/blog Simon

    OOOH… I love Lisa Loeb… I even watched her cheesy single girl in the city show on E!

    You publicly admit to taking drugs? [sorry ;)]

    On-topic, I think Brian’s suggestion for a disclaimer is a good idea. It may seem obvious to most of us that the library isn’t endorsing those ads. But then, it seems obvious to most of us not to click on spam or respond to 419 letters – and people do (I’ve had to tell workmates of mine not to respond to 419 scams, and these are intelligent, educated people….).

    You don’t want to not do something out of fear of the reaction of the most ignorant member of your community. But you probably want to cover yourself, as a way of managing the risk of that reaction.

  • http://www.myspace.com/hennepincountylibrary Meg Canada

    Thanks for the thoughtful discussion. Since our MySpace was used as an example, I took Brian’s advice and added a blog post/disclaimer to the site. I will talk with my colleagues about a more visible solution. I agree it is confusing for users to see the ads, but I am pleased with the traffic to the library’s website as a result of our MySpace.

  • http://www.myspace.com/hennepincountylibrary Meg Canada

    Thanks for the thoughtful discussion. Since our MySpace was used as an example, I took Brian’s advice and added a blog post/disclaimer to the site. I will talk with my colleagues about a more visible solution. I agree it is confusing for users to see the ads, but I am pleased with the traffic to the library’s website as a result of our MySpace.

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  • http://www.myspace.com/teensatapl Jessy

    Yeah, but when we set up MySpaces for libraries aren’t we pretty much saying, “Hey–we know MySpace users aren’t necessarily morons, and we trust you to be able to tell the difference between what the library offers and what MySpace is letting advertisers offer”?
    To those thinking of blocking the ads with paper or having a disclaimer, do you do the same to ads in Rolling Stone?
    Or do you trust that your patrons know that the library isn’t saying they should become a minister through the mail? (Does Rolling Stone even still have that ad?)
    Of course, when my crew of patrons gets out of line, I just threaten to sing “Stay” at them…;)

  • http://www.myspace.com/teensatapl Jessy

    Yeah, but when we set up MySpaces for libraries aren’t we pretty much saying, “Hey–we know MySpace users aren’t necessarily morons, and we trust you to be able to tell the difference between what the library offers and what MySpace is letting advertisers offer”?
    To those thinking of blocking the ads with paper or having a disclaimer, do you do the same to ads in Rolling Stone?
    Or do you trust that your patrons know that the library isn’t saying they should become a minister through the mail? (Does Rolling Stone even still have that ad?)
    Of course, when my crew of patrons gets out of line, I just threaten to sing “Stay” at them…;)

  • Santacrux

    I think Myspace is great, its a great way to interact with people and friends, but people should still keep their distance and info from those who are not personally known

  • Santacrux

    I think Myspace is great, its a great way to interact with people and friends, but people should still keep their distance and info from those who are not personally known

  • http://bigblogdir.blogspot.com/ Leon

    I can see why people would be concerned about the ads. Ads of any sort can influence readers an cause bloggers/etc concern. I once spent a few hours helping a friend work out the wording of his blog introduction because Google Adsense kept sending inappropriate ads.

  • http://bigblogdir.blogspot.com Leon

    I can see why people would be concerned about the ads. Ads of any sort can influence readers an cause bloggers/etc concern. I once spent a few hours helping a friend work out the wording of his blog introduction because Google Adsense kept sending inappropriate ads.

  • Melanie

    “…sometimes you have to give the creative glimmer a chance. Far too many good ideas have died in committees where librarians had to worry them to death.”

    So true. That is exactly what happened at my library when we tried to launch a Myspace. The board turned the idea down because they speculated the public would not receive it well. I beg to differ (we’re still fighting this one). I think the potential is too great to turn it down because someone *might* be offended.

    As far as the ads go I would hope that the people using the Myspace page would be familiar enough with the site that they would know what it was. But we were prepared to address it just in case because there are those people out there that will fight you on anything if you don’t have it down in writing.

  • Melanie

    “…sometimes you have to give the creative glimmer a chance. Far too many good ideas have died in committees where librarians had to worry them to death.”

    So true. That is exactly what happened at my library when we tried to launch a Myspace. The board turned the idea down because they speculated the public would not receive it well. I beg to differ (we’re still fighting this one). I think the potential is too great to turn it down because someone *might* be offended.

    As far as the ads go I would hope that the people using the Myspace page would be familiar enough with the site that they would know what it was. But we were prepared to address it just in case because there are those people out there that will fight you on anything if you don’t have it down in writing.

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