Has it happened to you yet? All summer long you crafted your library's facebook profile: loaded pictures, added friends, and listed cool books, music, and movies. Then one day – whoosh! It's gone. ( Example 1 ; Example 2 )
I don't blame them actually. FB is supposed to be like a yearbook. It's a directory of individuals…. not faceless entities. It is amazing how quickly this trend has taken off though. When I wrote my FB article last fall there were only a handful of libraries that had a presence—today there are over 70. Of course, this does not include the accounts they've already terminated.
Anyway, here are a few ideas on how you might use FB as an individual:
- Subject Librarians can directly target their disciplines. I send out ‘welcome' emails to all my incoming freshmen in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science. If you use the generalist model you could still do this with some division of labor. Reach them when they are still impressionable. Keep it short and informal. Don't sell the library too much. Make them feel like they have an inside contact. I focus on the untraditional features – who cares if we have 2 millions books? -- I push the 40 software programs including Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Autocad, and Office, as well as digital and video cameras for check out, and free printing (including color)— once you've got them interested, then you can talk about the traditional stuff.
- Join particular classes that have research components and market your assistance to these groups. For example, I know of one class that requires patent research so I offer my help with that assignment. I do get a small amount of class time with one section, but that's minimal at best. FB allows me to approach them personally and they appreciate it.
- Form groups that support the educational process. Can you partner with other departments such as tutoring, advising, writing center, etc? See my post from a few weeks ago for an example.
- Market events, lectures, workshops, classes, social gatherings, etc.
- Assessment efforts. You can locate students for focus groups or to gather quick opinions. I've started an informal unofficial longitudinal study following 30 students from freshmen year and beyond. Each semester I check in with them and ask about library experience, but also beyond—I'm more interested in their academic life and how we can gain a larger share of it. Where does the Institutional fail? What are the hoops, roadblocks, and frustrations?
- Know who's who around campus. I plan to devote a whole chapter on this in my book , but essentially I need to find ‘influential' voices around campus and FB is extremely helpful with this. You can also see members of clubs and organizations and reach them too. I really want to reach out to our Asian and Indian students- the structure is there.
- Interact with library staff (and faculty) at your institution as well as other schools. Join the group: Library Workers are the Best. I imagine (hope) ALA will eventually adopt a similar framework. If I were a real entrepreneur I would build a corporate online social networking structure that is adaptable to various environments then sell it to Oracle for $10 million. But anyway, the ALA website would be cool if it had functionality-- it's too static right now. Give me librarian profiles! It would be great to be able to filter by job roles, interests, research, specialties, region, etc. It would be great for mentoring and collaborating, but also as a social stimulate. I could go on and on. Perhaps this is something for all you emerging leaders to think about?