the future of libraries in the digital age
Hi. I am a librarian working in a university library in Queensland, Australia, where I support doctoral students and academics. The library uses social media tools to disseminate information but I am interested in how I can successfully utilise these tools into my everyday role when supporting my clients.
Cheryl, good day and very nice to meet you! Our library uses a variety of social media as well, so I would be very interested to know which ones you use. We use Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Shelfari, Second Life, and LinkedIn a great deal. We have Shelfari linked to Blogger so that when visitors go to our blog, they can see which books we have recently ordered and added to our collection. The Import Books from a Website function is great because I can generate a url from Baker & Taylor when I opt to Print an order cart, and I copy and paste that link into Shelfari's Import Books from a Website, it picks up all the ISBNs, and there is a shelf full of new books displayed. I write many of the blogs in Blogger, so I also connect it to my LinkedIn profile, share the blog link on Facebook and Twitter, and we have it on our website. The most important thing we do is make sure we check in with FB, Twitter, etc., regularly to field any questions that our patrons or other visitors might pose. Showing that we are answering questions as well as displaying information keeps our social networks alive and interesting.
My library uses Twitter and Blogs to disseminate information and has a Facebook page. The library also uploads videos on iTunesU. In the past I have used some social media tools to communicate with my clients and disseminate information. However, a short article I read recently about marketing research guides revealed that, of the online techniques, direct emails to faculty out-performed use of the social media tools. It could be that promotion of services from a known information professional is more effective via the email app.
I love that you're using iTunesU. We need to look into that. We do find that Constant Contact serves us very well for informing people about upcoming programming (which is via email).
It sounds like that method of new book promotion is low effort. Even so, I am curious what process you have for tracking its effect/use?
It is fantastic that you receive queries through the new channels, and that you respond promptly - how many come in that way? You say you need to check in - have you looked at methods of having incoming messages route to email? I'm thinking that unless you're able to check in a few times an hour, that a message routed to email might get picked up (and responded to) more quickly?
It's interesting to note with Shelfari that with their recent incorporation with Amazon, the effectiveness of that system has changed. Shelfari wants very much to attach to our Amazon account and pull from there, but it is now less cooperative about picking up ISBNs from Baker & Taylor. The best way we would have of tracking hard numbers of eye exposure for these would be tracking the hits to our Blogger blog, to which Shelfari is attached. Again, however, what works one month might have completely evolved two months hence.
Incoming communications are interesting to track, as almost all our staff receive what we would consider to be library related questions through their various Facebook/e-mail/LinkedIn applications. We've tried some aggregators in the past with mixed results. Definitely, receiving some sort of push notifications is probably not too far down the road. In the meantime, we make it our business to "make the rounds" in our cyber space much as we do in our physical space. (I.e. Is there any in the teen center, and do they need help? Is there anyone currently on our Facebook page, and do they need help?) It's a wild ride, and doesn't show any signs of slowing in the immediate future.
I'm not sure what you mean by aggregators?
Can I check too, when you say "is there anyone currently on our Facebook page" do you mean whether they've left a message/posted on the wall etc or do you mean it is possible to see whether someone is currently viewing the page? (I don't go to my personal Facebook page very often, usually only if Facebook has notified me that there was an addition to my wall or a message).