Friday, September 26, 2008

Totally Spaced Out

Here I am at my workspace where I need to backspace to get my headspace into cyberspace and write something in my blogspace and when it's done perhaps I can take a spacewalk in some sunspace.
Social networking is a new way for libraries to communicate with patrons, targeting all sections of the community with an emphasis on teens who are more internet savvy and the readers and knowledge information seekers of the present and future. It makes sense to put library related material for teens and twenties on a site which they already visit. The target market is already there in the social networking sites and 'connecting' is the important word here. Through their profiles, many of the libraries visited during my exploration are already addressing teen needs, interests and involvement. The different ways of making social contact are numerous -special interest groups allow people to connect by way of a common interest e.g. reading, theatre, poetry, music, sport. The social networking sites chosen need to be interactive, inviting comments and feedback for the libraries where collections and services fall short of patrons' expectations. Blog application is essential for this. I see social networking as an extension of outreach programmes already offered in most libraries and a way to tempt new patrons to the library. I read where the average user spends up to 2 hours per session on MySpace - love the term 'screen-agers'.
There are also disadvantages to a library presence on social networking sites: are they validating the sites as being safe? There would be a need to educate people on the use of the internet and internet security. Many patrons are innocent of possible privacy issues e.g. choosing a password and then announcing loudly that they use that one for everything. Are libraries invading patrons' space? Some patrons would find it useful, others invasive.
In my spacewalk through other library sites I found a few things I enjoyed e.g. the 'clock' story from Brooklyn College Library; Hennepin County Library's list of Outreach Services accessed through the Library Info button and their online tutorials on keyboarding skills, using a mouse and using information sources; I liked Salt Lake City Public Library's BOOKS WITH BITE @ your library - a heading for advertising the Teen Read Week in October; Fairfax Public Library (which is "reading as it rains outside") gives URL of its profile, shows blogs on its homepage, a note to check out its Facebook page, runs music nights at the library and invites you to listen to its podcasts; Jefferson County Library's catalogue page set out very like NSL's.
With regard to patrons' blogs, imagine the time spent in the library countercommenting on the comments...
Most useful links were "Libraries in Social Networking" and "Your Space or My Space".

1 comment:

Biblio Chick said...

Make space for my space on your space!!! You are absolutely right about the ready-made audience (potential readers) that already exists on these social networking sites and that it will take a great deal of imagination on the part of librians, teachers etc to keep up with the as yet untapped talent out there. We tend to keep our children children for far too long and in doing so patronise them and dumb them down, but the Web most assuredly has the potential to provide innovative opportunities to extend the imaginations and range of interests and knowledge base of all young people (as well as the middle aged, old and older one's) helping them find out that they have many more options than at first seems the case - regardless of their circumstances. Thanks for the 'screen-agers' - a great example of catching their attention without pandering to silly and meaningless slang and bad grammar. Teenagers, like children, are not stupid, they are just inexperienced and I am sure laugh up their sleeves when adults try to muscle into their space with copy cat teenage slang designed to show the young people how 'with-it' they are.