Why libraries should use social networking

I have selected three public libraries that have embraced Web 2.0, Worthington Libraries (WL), Ann Arbor District Library (AADL), and Mosman Library (ML) to demonstrate Reasons why libraries should use social networking:

  • To share information – WL and AADL post job vacancies on Facebook pages. All three share photos on Flickr of library events. ML uses webcasts through the Vimeo platform to share author talks. AADL makes use of podcasts to share library talks and author interviews, and posts news, services and events in the local community on its community blog.
  • To promote events and services – WL promotes news, events and library services through Facebook and Twitter. AADL uses Facebook primarily to promote events, but it has numerous blogs that include services, events and exhibits, and library news. A presence on social media sites can also attract potential new users through serendipitous browsing who might otherwise be unaware of the library and what it offers (Houghton-Jan, Etches-Johnson & Schmidt, 2009).
  • To engage with users – all three post blogs that encourage user comments. This can lead to conversations, which in turn can provide valuable information about what users want (Burkhardt, 2009). AADL also encourages user to tag its collections and provide book reviews, giving users a sense of ‘ownership’ (Springer et al., 2008, pp. 35-36). WL has a number of children’s storytime videos on YouTube to help engage with the youngest members of their community.  Facebook, Twitter and blogs can also be used to good effect to solicit feedback from users.
  • To communicate – provides additional means of being in touch with patrons. Instant messaging and Facebook are how many young users in particular now communicate, so go where the users are (Burkhardt, 2009). WL has teen Facebook page, as does ML although neither has many fans (ML only 6, though a lack of library promotion of this site may have a bearing!). WL also uses MySpace to host its teen site, which includes a teen blog. WL offers a mobile interface for both its website and OPAC, as well as instant messaging.
  • To provide user-education – AADL has a research blog, which aims to provide information on a wide range of research tools.


Burkhardt, A. (2009). Four reasons libraries should be on social media. Retrieved from http://andyburkhardt.com/2009/08/25/four-reasons-libraries-should-be-on-social-media/

Houghton-Jan, S., Etches-Johnson, A., & Schmidt, A. (2009). The read/write web and the future of library research. Journal of Library Administration, 49(4), 365-382. doi: 10.1080/01930820902832496

Springer, M., Dulabahn, B., Michel, P., Natanson, B., Reser, D., Woodward, D., et al. (2008). For the common good: The Library of Congress Flickr pilot project. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/flickr_report_final.pdf

Further reading

Burkhardt, A. (2010). Social media: A guide for college and university libraries. College & Research Libraries News, 71,(1), 10-24. Retrieved from http://crln.acrl.org/content/71/1/10.full.pdf+html

Dempsey, L. (2009). Always on: Libraries in a world of permanent connectivity. First Monday, 14(1). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2291/2070

Rogers, C. R. (2009). Social media, libraries and web 2.0: How American libraries are using new tools for public relations and to attract new users – Second Survey November 2009. Retrieved from http://www.statelibrary.sc.gov/docs/social_media_survey2009.pdf


About Sue

Sue Page is in the process of completing a Masters in Library & Information Management from Charles Sturt University in Australia.
This entry was posted in Library 2.0 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Why libraries should use social networking

  1. Pingback: It may be the end, but it’s really just the beginning – Evaluative report, part a « Almost a Librarian…

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