Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thing 20 -- Libraries and Social Networks

This was an interesting introduction to MySpace and FaceBook; I enjoyed learning a bit more about these two sites and seeing how some libraries are using them.

I was unsurprised by the statistics in the Pew report about the number of teens using Social Networking sites, and pleased to see that a substantial number of online teens are using the internet to obtain information about news and current events.

One thing that really struck me from Meredith Farkas's "Information Wants to be Free" blogpost was the statement that the point of libraries using some of these technologies is not just to be where are patrons are, but to provide useful information and services where out patrons are--so when I looked at some of the ways libraries were using MySpace, I was looking to see what sorts of services they were providing. The sites I looked at were those for Denver Public Library, Hennepin County Library, Alexandria Public Library (Indiana), the Library Loft (Charlotte, NC), St. Paul Public Library, and Birmingham Public Library. The first four seemed like they were really targeting teens with their page; the latter two had some information or links which suggested that they might be trying to provide services to a post-teen patronage as well. Common features were links to the library catalog and reference databases and homework help. A couple of the sites had Meebo chat windows right on their front MySpace page; a couple of them had information or promotional video clips on their front pages. Denver Public Library had links to book and movie and music reviews or lists by teens, although I noted that all of the links were broken and had a page saying that there were problems with viruses or spam or phishing on those pages. There were lots of links to book lists, and the display of front covers added, I thought, visual interest.

The site that most impressed me was Hennepin County Library's site. I followed some of the links back into their catalog, and saw quite a few things there that are on my mental "wish list" (and hopefully to be included in the next 5-year-plan). I particularly liked their "Great Reading Ideas" lists. The lists seemed similar to what might be obtained through a NovelList search, but the work was already done for the teen (or anyone) looking, and the names of the lists, with their accompanying descriptions, seemed well done (for example, the "It's Due Tomorrow" list (description: "Skinny books for book reports"). I noticed that several of the books on the list had comments by people who had read them.

I don't think that MySpace and FaceBook are sites that I would use very much personally, so I did not at this time create a site. I would like to see a Teen Advisory Group get started at my library--and I think the pros and cons, and potential usefulness of starting a MySpace site for the library, and what sorts of things teens would include or find useful, would be an excellent discussion to have with such a group.

No comments: