Facebook and Libraries

Ryan Deschamps at The Other Librarian recently posted about Facebook and libraries. It’s a thought-provoking article – go read it! Here are some tidbits from the article:

“So let me start with the Facebook library search application. It is
fine, but my opinion is that few people besides librarians are going to
add the applications to their profiles. The technology is Web 2.0, but
the strategy is still Library 1.0.”


“… the model is still, “I am librarian. I can help. Come to me (ie. my
Facebook page) and I will serve.” The applications, though offering
marginally better service for little cost, are not taking advantage of
what Facebook offers its clients.”

Then Ryan goes on to discuss his thoughts on what might work for libraries in Facebook. I agree with him – sticking the same ole library 1.0 stuff (in this case, a bad ILS search interface) into a 2.0 tool (i.e., Facebook) doesn’t make one hip, cool, or popular. Another example? Putting excruciating bibliographic instruction seminars on the intricacies of database searching on YouTube. I’ve seen some of those. They aren’t watched.

But if putting the traditional library into 2.0 tools doesn’t work, well then… what does? From Ryan again: “A Facebook application should be something your average person wants to show their friends.” He goes on: “In the end, the reason students will say they do not want to see
librarians and educators on Facebook is that the culture of Libraries
clashes with the culture of Facebook … If we can establish rapport with the Facebook community, we will matter
to them.” Ryan then provides thoughts on the Facebook culture.

So… how do you learn a new tool’s culture? By PLAYING with it. Experiencing it. Using it. Play with Facebook. Gather 100 friends and see what happens. Connect to some Facebook apps, join some Facebook groups. Poke people. Browse – see who’s using Facebook in your neck of the woods. Then figure out what you can add that those people (your customers, after all) might find interesting or useful.