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December 06, 2006

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Paul R. Pival

Brian, a direct violation of what, Facebook policy or GT policy? I'm guessing Facebook, and when you say "termination" you mean of the Facebook account, yes? I thought your job was being threatened there for a second! So are you allowed to use Facebook to ID the students and then email them on the GT system? I guess you'd probably have other tools to ID the student through official channels, but then there goes the social aspect of it, eh? Guess I'm just offering a stream of consciousness here, sorry. Guess I have to go re-read the CRLNews article. Sorry your hand's been slapped :-(

Ratcatcher

How disappointing that Facebook takes yet another turn for the worse.

And, your library's freshman orientation obviously benefited from Facebook exposure, so clearly your efforts were not wholly in vain.

Angel

Ouch, if I had any thoughts of opening a Facebook account for myself, I think they are swiftly dissipating. So, you could do all those constructive things, if Facebook was not so "picky" (to put it politely). A pity really. I would not see the endeavor as a failure. More like, it did not quite work, what did you learn from it kind of thing. I have been pondering the whole "be where the users are" mantra as well. One of the things I wondered with FB, given our setting's extremely high lack of retention, if something like that could have helped, in a small way to alleviate it by giving students another more personal angle. Anyways, I guess this turned out a bit stream of consciousness as well. Keep up the good work. Best, and keep on blogging.

Isabel Espinal

I would like to see colleges and universities get together and create their own, con-commercial social networking site. And for academic librarians to be part of that project. This coudl be a world-wide effort.

Also, beyond the field of education, I woudl liek to see a non-commercail open social networking option that would provide a true public sphere. A myspace that would be truly an "our"space.

LeAnn Suchy

I, at first, made a Facebook profile for our library, but after reading all over the place that they were getting deleted, I didn't pursue it and instead pursued making a group. But, to try to make the group idea fun, I designed a contest for all our student workers to come up with a name for the library's facebook group. I got some really good ideas (like "Radical CSB/SJU Readers", "Live it up at the Library", "CSB/SJU Libraries - We're bringing sexy back", "Be a geek, meet a geek, read about geeks, all at the CSB/SJU Libraries!") and it was fun for our student workers to try to come up with ideas. It also put into the minds of our 100+ student workers that the library was actually going to have a Facebook group.

Eventually all library staff voted and the winner was "I Pledge Allegiance to my CSB/SJU Libraries!" I think this won because the student who submitted it also submitted a poem with it where the words of the pledge of allegiance were changed to talk about our libraries.

Anyway, I made the group, asked our student workers to join, and made a couple of them officers, and the group started to grow. I then e-mailed all students on their college e-mail addresses and it continued to grow. It's not a huge group, but we have right around 250 students in it.

The interesting thing is that, in the group, you can e-mail all the members. I thought maybe some would leave the group if I did that, but they didn't. And, we recently had an anniversary celebration and a drawing for the students. On the drawing we asked them where they heard about our anniversary celebration. Out of the 200 student entries, 25 of them wrote Facebook. So, that's more than 10%...and those 10% may not have heard about it had they not received a message from our Facebook group.

So, it's not as nice as having students as your "friend" and e-mailing them directly, but if you can get some to join the group, it might spread and you might reach some of them.

Brian Want

I have to disagree somewhat with your assertion that "groups are more for a symbolic expression of a person's identity." If the group is not managed to be dynamic and all it does is sit in someone's profile like a cheap badge, then sure -- it's nothing more than a symbol. But if it's used as a way of making an initial connection with people and then correspondence blossoms, it's something more. One problem with groups is that there's often more activity happening between their members that we see manifested in the online group space itself. In other words, sometimes the groups look dead, but that's because the action quickly moves into person-to-person exchanges. I suppose I view groups on social networking sites as just another useful filter that can guide people to one-on-one interactions.

Oh, and while this isn't related to academic libraries, I can say enthusiastically that I have some friends (one of whom I now know in real life) thanks to a MySpace group for NPR fans. :)

Jenny Levine

Brian, I'm disappointed by your post on two levels. First, obviously, that Facebook is being so shortsighted. It's a shame, but there are many companies that don't understand the inherent benefits of working with libraries and now we can add Facebook to that list.

More importantly, though, I find your own reflections disappointing. I don't believe that your "objective of appearing in their space failed," nor do I think your efforts did. Just because a project doesn't continue (for whatever reason) doesn't make it a failure.

I talk a lot about shifting our services to where our users are, and I've been gratified by how you've moved a piece of that discussion from theory to practice. Until you helped elevate the conversation about libraries and social networking within the profession, the general attitude was that there was no reason for libraries to explore social networks (particularly academic libraries). You helped put this issue out there and you inspired others. The project didn't work out as you had hoped, but you did it in earnest for less than a year. That's hardly enough time to let a service like that grow organically.

Your post shows the most fruitful part of your experiment - you learned something and you're ready to try again when the next opportunity arises, which is better than the alternative of never even trying. You should be proud that you made a lot of people rethink their assumptions. If you're questioning "be where the patron is" based on what you learned, that's one thing, and I hope you'll write more about that. But if you're basing your doubts on the fact that one experiment hit a smackdown by an external, non-library-related corporation, then maybe you need to re-examine your evaluation criteria. After all, how many librarians can claim to have met with the VP of Sales of one of the major social networking companies? It's not your fault that he and the company just don't get it.

I wouldn't characterize your effort as a failure in any realm, and I look forward to seeing what you do next.

Alicia

How long did it take for facebook to activate your account?! I've been disabled for "spamming" also. The thing the founders don't take into consideration is that the some people I message with a link to an event are my friends.

I have an event coming up in 2 weeks..I'm losing it O_o lol.

How did you finally reach them? How long did it take?

Heather

I am the senior editor of the online magazine orato.com and I am looking for someone to contribute a critique article of the anti-spamming mechanisms built in to the Facebook platform.

Can anyone help me by contributing?

Heather Wallace
senior editor
heather@orato.com
www.orato.com

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