Howard, H. A. (2018). Academic Libraries on Social Media: Finding the Students and the Information They Want. Information Technology and Libraries
(1), 8–18. https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v37i1.10160
In his book Tell Everyone: Why We Share and Why It Matters, Alfred Hermida states, “People are not hooked on YouTube, Twitter or Facebook but on each other. Tools and services come and go; what is constant is our human urge to share.”1 Libraries are places of connection, where people connect with information, technologies, ideas, and each other. As such, libraries look for ways to increase this connection through communication.
Academic libraries have been slow to accept social media as a venue for either promoting their services or academic purposes. A 2007 study of 126 academic librarians found that only 12 percent of those surveyed “identified academic potential or possible benefits” of Facebook while 54 percent saw absolutely no value in social media.2 However, the mission of academic libraries has shifted in the last decade from being a repository of knowledge to being a conduit for information literacy; new roles include being a catalyst for on-campus collaboration and a facilitator for scholarly publication within contemporary academic librarianship.3 Academic librarians have responded to this change, with many now believing that “social media, which empowers libraries to connect with and engage its diverse stakeholder groups, has a vital role to play in moving academic libraries beyond their traditional borders and helping them engage new stakeholder groups.”4
The project focused on three research questions:
1. What social media platforms are students using?
2. What social media platforms do students want the library to use?
3. What kind of content do students want from the library on each of these platforms?
survey using the web-based Qualtrics
The social media platforms included were Facebook, Flickr, G+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Qzone, Renren, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, and Yik Yak
The second survey also lasted for three weeks starting in mid-April of the spring 2017 semester. As a participation incentive, students who completed the initial survey and the second survey had an opportunity to enter a drawing for a $25 Visa gift card.
we intend to develop better communication channels, a clear social media presence, and a more cohesive message across the Purdue libraries. Under the direction of our new director of strategic communication, a social media committee was formed with representatives from each of the libraries to contribute content for social media. The committee will consider expanding the Purdue Libraries’ social media presence to communication channels where students have said they are and would like us to be.
Germany to implement law of editorial responsibility for Social Media
Germany to implement law of editorial responsibility for Social Media
The law has been criticized as encouraging censorship.
The companies will also be forced to introduce an official complaint structure, obliging platforms to monitor their content and improve their real-time reporting protocols.
Platforms failing to react within 24-hours face €50 million fines. The challenge to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, VK, Vimeo, Flickr and the like are facing a major technological challenge which could come with significant costs.
The law adopted in June 2017, went into force in October 2017 and will be enforced from January 2018. The new law implies hiring hundreds of more employees.
more on social media in this IMS blog
Social media objectives:
- collection management tool
- teaching and learning
Opportunities and challenges
- opportunity to build a sense of community between the library and its users
- the variability of skills across library staff for using social media effectively, striking the right tone between professional and personal, coordinating activities across the institution to avoid duplication
- maintaining visibility for the library brand and copyright issues relating to hosting library resources on social media sites
Policies and management:
- Librarians are divided on the benefits of introducing formalized social media policies and plans. About a third of libraries responding to the Taylor & Francis survey had a policy in place, but over 40% had no plans to introduce one
- Some believe that representing the library as a professional function with a
consistent tone is the priority, while others believe that a more human approach is important, with individual staff free to bring their own ideas and personalities to social media activities.
Effectiveness and assessment:
- difficult to prove return on effort and that the time required to do this was a major barrier to more comprehensive analysis of impact
- framework for evaluation, so it is likely that assessment against commonly agreed metrics will become an increasingly important part of social media activity within the library in the near future
Current Social Media Practices:
- In a study from the mid 2000s (Cantrell and Havens1 ), most library directors in the US when questioned about social media said they did not think that libraries had a role in social networking
- A more recent study from 2012 (Kai-Wah Chu and Du4) shows how use of social media by the library has now become mainstream. In this survey of libraries in Asia, North America and Europe, 71% were found to be using social media tools with a further 13% saying they planned to use them
Advantages of using social media
n Financially the costs of using social media are perceived to be low;
n It requires little training;
n It promotes library services and disseminates news quickly, delivering this information more directly to library users;
n It increases engagement and interactions with library users;
n It helps gather feedback to enhance user services;
n The promotion of library holdings via social media can help increase usage of content;
n It enhances communication both within the library and with other departments;
n It can be used for outreach activities through onward sharing, well beyond the institution itself, helping build connections and reputation more broadly
Social Media Objectives: graph on page 8 of the PDF document:
A To promote events
B To promote library services
C To promote resources/collections at the library
D To update on library refurbishments
E To promote new acquisitions
F To promote library guides, exhibition guides
G To connect with new students joining the university
H To engage with the academic community
I To connect with the wider community beyond the university e.g. the town in which the institution is based
J To connect with distance learners
K As a customer services tool- complaints, suggestions, enquiries, feedback
L To highlight subject specific information
M To connect with potential students
N As a teaching tool to promote information literacy, technology and writing tips (not library based)
O To promote courses
P As a research tool to locate official documents and studies
From UK-based focus group: “The library is a programme, not just a building.”
Channel preferences: Graph on page 10 of the PDF document
SOCIAL MEDIA USES Table on p 13 of the PDF document
Twitter n Distribute library news and information
n Provide customer service
n Build connections with researchers
n Build connections with other librarians and institutions
Facebook n Distribute library news and information
n More social and less formal than Twitter – share photographs and run competitions
n Arrange events including tracking RSVPs and sending event updates
n Engagement with students
Pinterest n Promote general library collections, digital and archive special collections and information literacy
n Set up of online repositories for students to pin researched references as part of
collaborative group work
n Display book titles to save time browsing and promote new titles
n Provide an arena for students and course leaders to pin reviewed and recommended reading
for a particular topic
n Develop communities with other online libraries
YouTube n Streaming film collections
n Instructional ‘how to’ videos teaching information literacy skills and how to use library
services and resources
There are also a number of other social media products that are being used by librarians that reflect regional
preferences and the need for the specific functions offered by niche applications.
Collection usage and discovery: Graph on p. 15
Teaching and learning
From US-based librarian interview: “The trend in education now is to create environments that foster collaborative learning. Faculty have ditched textbooks and course management systems in exchange for a Facebook page for their class, or a wiki, or a blog. These online environments are fun; students already know how to use them and are more motivated to comment, discuss and share in these environments than a dry CMS.”
Social media policies and management, p. 18
73% of respondents stating that they believed more roles dedicated to social media would appear in the library in the future.
Effectiveness of social media
From UK focus group: “We keep track of something particularly successful, then we redo the campaign 6 months later.”
From US focus group: “We have very few interactions with anyone on our Twitter feed.”
“Twitter is definitely the best platform, because we hashtag all of our posts with the keyword
of the publication, and so for the academic audience, once they click it’s going to pull up all
of the similar publications under that topic.
Promoting library social media channels
From UK focus group:
“We retweet each other to encourage new followers.” My note: Suggested by me regarding SCSU_Library for Twitter and Pinterest and SCSUTechinstruct but “considered” (in local lingo, slow death of the idea)