Friday, July 8, 2011

Social Networking in Libraries

In many ways becoming a 21st-century librarian seems to be as much about proficiency with social technology as anything else. Among our tasks for this class, we're asked to subscribe to various professional blogs and podcasts through an RSS feeder, monitor the class on twitter, set up our websites and maintain blogs of our own. While Facebook has yet to be mentioned in the course, it's been an essential part of our initiation into library school from the moment we received our acceptance emails. The classmates we're connecting with now will be our colleagues in the very near future.

A lot of these social technologies are pretty new to me. I never bothered with MySpace, and I spent several months contemplating the merits of Facebook before deciding to join. I've blogged a little but never had a blog of my own, and RSS feeds somehow never quite seemed essential. Twitter is completely foreign to me. Still, as I begin to play with them, to "test the Web 2.0 waters" in Funk's words (2009), I see the potential for their use within an individual library and their absolute necessity in connecting to new generations of library users, as well as keeping up with the general library community. Our lives are so deeply intertwined online that it makes little sense for libraries to ignore the trends and technologies that are out there and in heavy use by potential "library members", to use Lankes' terminology (2011). (I'm so used to calling them patrons.)

Perhaps the biggest challenge I've already had is determining the life span of a blog, or wiki, or other piece of social technology. Some of the suggested blogs have migrated since they were added to the list while others have been (temporarily?) abandoned; the same is true of podcasts and wikis. As socially networked as we're becoming, why aren't we better at catching these gaps in information? Should we be?

Funk, Mark E. (2009). "Testing the web 2.0 waters". American Libraries. January/February 40(1/2), 48-51.

Lankes, R. David. (2011). The Atlas of New Librarianship (pp.5-6). Cambridge: MIT Press.

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