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.
Sugimoto, C. R., Work, S., Larivière, V., & Haustein, S. (2016). Scholarly use of social media and altmetrics: a review of the literature. Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/abs/1608.08112
One of the central issues associated with altmetrics (short for alternative metrics) is the identification of communities engaging with scholarly content on social media (Haustein, Bowman, & Costas, 2015; Neylon, 2014; Tsou, Bowman, Ghazinejad, & Sugimoto, 2015) . It is thus of central importance to understand the uses and users of social media in the context of scholarly communication.
most identify the following major categori es: social networking, social bookmarking, blogging, microblogging, wikis , and media and data sharing (Gu & Widén -Wulff, 2011; Rowlands, Nicholas, Russell, Canty, & Watkinson, 2011; Tenopir et al., 2013) . Some also conside r conferencing, collaborative authoring, scheduling and meeting tools (Rowlands et al., 2011) or RSS and online documents (Gu & Widén -Wulff, 2011; Tenopir et al., 2013) as social media. The landscape of social media, as well as that of altmetrics, is constantly changing and boundaries with othe r online platforms and traditional metrics are fuzzy. Many online platforms cannot be easily classified and more traditional metrics , such as downloads and mentions in policy documents , have been referred to as altmetrics due to data pr ovider policies.
the Use of social media platforms for by researchers is high — ranging from 75 to 80% in large -scale surveys (Rowlands et al., 2011; Tenopir et al., 2013; Van Eperen & Marincola, 2011) .
less than 10% of scholars reported using Twitter (Rowlands et al., 2011) , while 46% used ResearchGate (Van Noorden, 2014) , and more than 55% use d YouTube (Tenopir et al., 2013) —it is necessary to discuss the use of various types of social media separately . Furthermore, there i s a distinction among types of us e, with studies showing higher uses of social media for dissemination, consumption, communication , and promotion (e.g., Arcila -Calderón, Piñuel -Raigada, & Calderín -Cruz, 2013; Van Noorden, 2014) , and fewer instances of use for creation (i.e., using social media to construct scholarship) (British Library et al., 2012; Carpenter, Wetheridge, Tanner, & Smith, 2012; Procter et al., 2010b; Tenopir et al., 2013) .
Frequently mentioned social platforms in scholarly communication research include research -specific tools such as Mendeley, Zotero, CiteULike, BibSonomy, and Connotea (now defunct) as well as general tools such as Delicious and Digg (Hammond, Hannay, Lund, & Scott, 2005; Hull, Pettifer, & Kell, 2008; Priem & Hemminger, 2010; Reher & Haustein, 2010) .
Social data sharing platforms provide an infrastructure to share various types of scholarly objects —including datasets, software code, figures, presentation slides and videos —and for users to interact with these objects (e.g., comment on, favorite, like , and reuse ). Platforms such as Figshare and SlideShare disseminate scholars’ various types of research outputs such as datasets, figures, infographics, documents, videos, posters , or presentation slides (Enis, 2013) and displays views, likes, and shares by other users (Mas -Bleda et al., 2014) . GitHub provides for uploading and stor ing of software code, which allows users to modify and expand existing code (Dabbish, Stuart, Tsay, & Herbsleb, 2012) , which has been shown to lead to enhanced collaboratio n among developers (Thung, Bissyande, Lo, & Jiang, 2013) . As w ith other social data sharing platforms, usage statistics on the number of view and contributions to a project are provided (Kubilius, 2014) . The registry of research data repositories, re3data.org, ha s indexed more than 1,200 as of May 2015 2 . However, only a few of these repositories (i.e. , Figshare, SlideShare and Github) include social functionalities and have reached a certain level of participation from scholars (e.g., Begel, Bosch, & Storey, 2013; Kubilius, 2014) .
Video provide s yet another genre for social interaction and scholarly communication (Kousha, Thelwall, & Abdoli, 2012; Sugimoto & Thelwall, 2013) . Of the various video sharing platforms, YouTube, launched in 2005, is by far the most popular
A study of UK scholars reports that the majority o f respondents engaged with video for scholarly communication purposes (Tenopir et al., 2013) , yet only 20% have ever created in that genre. Among British PhD students, 17% had used videos and podcasts passively for research, while 8% had actively contributed (British Library et al., 2012) .
Blogs began in the mid -1990s and were considered ubiquitous by the mid- 200 0s (Gillmor, 2006; Hank, 2011; Lenhart & Fox, 2006; Rainie, 2005) . Scholarly blogs emerged during this time with their own neologisms (e.g., blogademia , blawgosphere , bloggership) and body of research (Hank, 2011) and were considered to change the exclusive structure of scholarly communication
Technorati, considered t o be on e of the largest ind ex of blogs, deleted their entire blog directory in 2014 3 . Individual blogs are also subject to abrupt cancellations and deletions, making questionable the degree to which blogging meets the permanence criteria of scholarly commu nication (Hank, 2011) .
ResearchBlogging.org (RB) — “an aggregator of blog posts referencing peer -reviewed research in a structured manner” (Shema, Bar -Ilan, & Thelwall, 2015, p. 3) — was launched in 2007 and has been a fairly stable structure in the scholarly blogging environment. RB both aggregates and —through the use of the RB icon — credentials scholarly blogs (Shema et al., 2015) . The informality of the genre (Mewburn & Thomson, 2013) and the ability to circumve nt traditional publishing barr iers has led advocates to claim that blogging can invert traditional academic power hierarchies (Walker, 2006) , allow ing people to construct scholarly identities outside of formal institutionalization (Ewins, 2005; Luzón, 2011; Potter, 2012) and democratize the scientific system (Gijón, 2013) . Another positive characteristic of blogs is their “inherently social” nature (Walker, 2006, p. 132) (see also Kjellberg, 2010; Luzón, 2011 ). Scholars have noted the potential for “communal scholarship” (Hendrick, 2012) made by linking and commenting, calling the platform “a new ‘third place’ for academic discourse” (Halavais, 2006, p. 117) . Commenting functionalities were seen as making possible the “shift from public understanding to public engagement with science” (Kouper, 2010, p. 1) .
Studies have also provided evidence of high rate s of blogging among certain subpopulations: for example, approximately one -third of German university staff (Pscheida et al., 2013) and one fifth of UK doctoral students use blogs (Carpenter et al., 2012) .
Academics are not only producers, but also consumers of blogs: a 2007 survey of medical bloggers foundthat the large majority (86%) read blogs to find medical news (Kovic et al., 2008)
Mahrt and Puschmann (2014) , who defined science blogging as “the use of blogs for science communication” (p. 1). It has been similarly likened to a sp ace for public intellectualism (Kirkup, 2010; Walker, 2006) and as a form of activism to combat perceived biased or pseudoscience (Riesch & Mendel, 2014. Yet, there remains a tension between science bloggers and science journalists, with many science journals dismissing the value of science blogs (Colson, 2011)
while there has been anecdotal evidence of the use of blogs in promotion and tenure (e.g., (Podgor, 2006) the consensus seem s to suggest that most institutions do not value blogging as highly as publishing in traditional outlets, or consider blogging as a measure of service rather than research activity (Hendricks, 2010, para. 30) .
Microblogging developed out of a particular blogging practice, wherein bloggers would post small messages or single files on a blog post. Blogs that focused on such “microposts” were then termed “tumblelogs” and were described as “a quick and dirty stream of consciousness” kind of blogging (Kottke, 2005, para. 2)
most popular microblogs are Twitter (launched in 2006), tumblr (launched in 2007), FriendFeed (launched in 2007 and available in several languages), Plurk (launched in 2008 and popular in Taiwan), and Sina Weibo (launched in 2009 and popular in China).
users to follow other users, search tweets by keywords or hashtags, and link to other media or other tweets
Conference chatter (backchanneling) is another widely studied area in the realm of scholarly microblogging. Twitter use at conferences is generally carried out by a minority of participants
Wikis are collaborative content management platforms enabled by web browsers and embedded markup languages.
Wikipedia has been advocated as a replacement for traditional publishing and peer review models (Xia o & Askin, 2012) and pleas have been made to encourage experts to contribute (Rush & Tracy, 2010) . Despite this, contribution rates remain low — likely hindered by the lack of explicit authorship in Wikipedia, a cornerstone of the traditional academic reward system (Black, 2008; Butler, 2008; Callaway, 2010; Whitworth & Friedman, 2009) . Citations to scholarly documents —another critical component in the reward system —are increasingly being found i n Wikiped ia entries (Bould et al., 2014; Park, 2011; Rousidis et al., 2013) , but are no t yet seen as valid impact indicators (Haustein, Peters, Bar -Ilan, et al., 2014) .
The altmetrics manifesto (Priem et al., 2010, para. 1) , altmetrics can serve as filters , which “reflect the broad, rapid impact of scholarship in this burgeoning ecosystem”.
There are also a host of platforms which are being used informally to discuss and rate scholarly material. Reddit, for example, is a general topic platform where users can submit, discuss and rate online content. Historically, mentions of scientific journals on Reddit have been rare (Thelwall, Haustein, et al., 2013) . However, several new subreddits —e.g., science subreddit 4 , Ask Me Anything sessions 5 –have recently been launched, focusing on the discussion of scientific information. Sites like Amazon (Kousha & Thelwall, 2015) and Goodreads (Zuccala, Verleysen, Cornacchia, & Engels, 2015) , which allow users to comment on and rate books, has also been mined as potential source for the compilation of impact indicators
provide services to support researchers’ use of social media tools and metrics (Lapinski, Piwowar, & Priem, 2013; Rodgers & Barbrow, 2013; Roemer & Borchardt, 2013). One example is Mendeley Institutional Edition
, which mines Mendeley documents, annotations, and behavior and provides these data to libraries (Galligan & Dyas -Correia, 2013) . Libraries can use them for collection management, in a manner similar to other usage data, such as COUNTER statistics (Galligan & Dyas -Correia, 2013) .
Factors affecting social media use; age, academic rank and status, gender, discipline, country and language,
more on altmetrics in this IMS blog:
LITA discussion thread on how social media should be run at an academic library:
Very much different from where I am at. But that’s not new, I have voiced the fallacies often in the last 5 years rather frequently.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Alex Herzberg
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2015 11:39 AM
Subject: RE: [lita-l] social media administration
The Loyola/Notre Dame Library’s social media is run by a committee of 4 full-time staff: two from research & instruction, one from circulation, and one from archives. I’m the committee chair but we all take weekly shifts for posting and monitoring the accounts. This model of sharing the workload has been really effective for us!
I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
Alex Herzberg, MLS
Online Learning Librarian
Loyola/Notre Dame Library
200 Winston Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21212
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Lisa Rabey
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2015 6:16 AM
Subject: Re: [lita-l] social media administration
At my last position, I was the systems and web librarian, which included social media. I did the following:
Managed all of the social media accounts (FB, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr)
Used Hootsuite to post date posts in Twitter.
Used FB to post date posts in FB
Created singular branding across all sites
Created social media best practices
Created social media policy in congruent with the college’s s AUP
Managed the backend of the blog
— Created a calendar for blog post ideas
— Enlisted other people to provide additional content
— edited blog posts from other posters
I’d say I spent 2-5 hours a week on the social media, most of which I managed when I was the reference desk.
The person who replaced me dumped all of the above. So there’s that.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Erik Sandall
Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2015 11:49 AM
Subject: Re: [lita-l] social media administration
As a librarian and webmaster, I split my time between library and IT.
I’m responsible for the administration and management of our social media accounts. I also post a little, and there are three others (one librarian, two non-libs) who also contribute content.
It’s worked out very well having a variety of staff across departments contributing to our social media efforts. I highly recommend it.
Blackboard loses high-profile clients as its rivals school it in innovation
My note: if this is going on with BB, imagine what is the issue with D2L.
competitors emerged that were more difficult to ignore. Firms such as Instructure and Sakai attempted to separate themselves from Blackboard by focusing on customizing their software for clients and providing extensive daily maintenance.
As rivals gained traction, Blackboard’s grip on the market began to slip. Some companies relied on open-source software that made them more nimble. Blackboard didn’t adopt it until 2012. Student and faculty complaints about the software also took on new life.
“Blackboard will be the death of me,” wrote one student on Tumblr a year ago.
“Why is everything so counter-intuitive?” said one professor on an online forum at the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Why do you have to click a million times just to do a simple task?”
the company has struggled to find technology that will appeal to all students and professors
It is focused on expanding its reach in K-12 institutions to broaden the market, Blot said, and is diving into the world of mobile apps.