Socially Extend Your Website With Facebook

Facebook recently surpassed Yahoo to become the second most visited site in the US. According to the article, people also spend more of their attention there and stay on the site longer than Google or Yahoo. Facebook has more than 400 million active users and half of them log in on any given day. It’s clear that Facebook is the king of the social web.

Facebook has been around for six years now. And now is the time if you’ve been holding out to start a Facebook page for your library. Or if you have one, to recommit resources and attention to it. We can no longer afford to just “be on the web.” The web has become social, so we need to be social on the web. It reminds me of when the web was new and people were still unsure about getting a web page for their business. This is the same thing. I can guarantee you that if your users are on the web, then a significant portion of them are on Facebook.

The barriers to getting a page on Facebook are very low too. It’s not like designing an entire website. Facebook makes it easy for businesses and organizations to be represented and deliver their content to users. It’s also easy to customize your Facebook page. I see it as a more fun, interactive extension of your current website. Patrons are already in Facebook and used to it’s interface, so it could be a great place to get non-users aware of and perhaps using the library.

We have a very basic custom tab in Facebook called Research. It allows people to do research in a place they’re already familiar with. It includes a box to search the catalog, a box for Google Scholar (which we’ve enabled with Library Links), and ways to contact us, most notably by IM.

The time has come for libraries to be social on the web. Social is the new normal. It has become mainstream and people expect it. Library 2.0 is not dead, it has just become boring and commonplace. And to quote Clay Shirky, “Tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.”

Well, things are getting interesting.


Ambient Awareness in Twitter for Reference

A couple of days ago I was able to help a patron on Twitter with a question that they had about citations. It wasn’t directly addressed to the library though, so I almost missed it. A savvy marketing professor actually referred the student to the library on Twitter, which was very helpful.

This got me thinking though. There are likely a lot of potential library related questions on Twitter from our patrons that we miss because they might not be asking us or thinking of the library when they tweet. Patrons may be talking about proper citation or research though not @replying or DMing the library.

So, to remedy this and catch some of these questions I set up several alerts using Twitter’s advanced search. You can take advantage of the Boolean nature of the advanced search to make your searches very specific. I set up searches for:

  • Tweets containing the word library
  • Tweets containing the word cite
  • Tweets containing the word research
  • Tweets containing the word paper
  • Tweets containing the word need AND book OR article OR books OR articles

All of these alerts I set up were within a 10-25 mile radius of the college to keep it targeted locally and keep hits managable. I keep these alerts in a folder in Google Reader.

Different libraries might run different searches. For example a public library around this time may run a search having to do with “tax help” or “taxes.” The searches can be tailored to your specific community, and they can be modified over time. I may find that some of the searches I’m running never return any useful hits. But something like the word “cite” or “citation” is not used that often. When it is, there’s a decent chance it’s something a library can help with.

What do other folks think? Are there other searches you would run? Is this just going out and looking for more work?


Meaningful Books and Getting to Know the Community

Last Friday I participated in the Meaningful Books Series at Champlain College which is run by my colleague Sarah Cohen. I don’t normally do things like this, but I really love this event series every time I’ve gone, simply because you get to learn a lot more about a member of your community. So I figured I would share myself with the community and help out my friend. We also recorded it so people who couldn’t attend could see it as well. Here’s the last 5 minutes:

Click here to watch the video on YouTube

Also, my friend Becky from library school at UW-Madison told me about a community reception her library runs that highlights faculty scholarship and creativity. So you’d be able to learn more about the accomplishments and wider lives of community members in that way. I just think stuff like this is so cool and think that we should be doing more of it.

Is anyone else hosting events like this?