Friday, April 27, 2007

ACRL Poster Session: Libraries and Social Networks

The idea of libraries setting up profiles on social networks to meet students where they are is something I have not fully made up my mind about yet. I have profiles on both Facebook and MySpace. However, I joined MySpace because I'm a Millennial and my friends were doing it, not for library reasons. I think I joined Facebook partly to connect with students at my place of employment, but I've ended up connecting more with other friends there, too.

But anyway, a poster session I viewed at ACRL questioned "Do Students want Librarians in Their Turf?" The librarian, Jenny Emanuel from the University of Central Missouri, is a Millennial librarian, too, and is skeptical about libraries invading students' turf.

Here's what she found in the 50 responses to her survey:
  • 80% have social network profiles, which is less than she (and I) expected
  • "Only 34% of students would add a librarian as a friend; 18% would not; and 48% indicated a maybe"
  • Students were asked to indicate what type of library-related information they'd be interested in receiving through a social network - links to resources in their major (68% yes), ability to ask a question of a librarian (63%), search for library materials (62%), links to other resources (59%). 15% did not want any linked content
So the results are mixed. And that's probably why I feel kind of skeptical but not opposed. For me, I think it's important to let them find you and not to seek them out. I have students request to add me on Facebook, but I don't request to add them. I may mention I have an account, but that's it.

I think we can be in the social networks, but I don't think we should force ourselves into their friends list.

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