Social Media and Libraries

Today, i gave a presentation on social media to our Libraries Management Team (i am doing the tour around different teams at present and so far it is going down well) and was very impressed with their positive attitudes towards supporting and developing these tools within the service.Β  I must admit that the ideas that were suggested took me by surprise as it went further then i was hoping. My initial idea was to really just raise the awareness and to stimulate discussion to the point where i may need to go back and delve deeper into specific topics. But oh no, The new Head of Libraries Ciara Eastell, who is on Facebook herself, has from what she said been thinking about this and some of the ideas are very transformational within the libraries arena but exactly where libraries should be.

Examples of the ideas include:

  • Surgery sessions for the public linked – supporting digital literacy and adult learning
    • “how to use facebook and become a fan of your local library”
    • “how to load photos to flickr”
    • “how to use twitter”
    • “how to use RSS”
  • Expanded internal sessions (linked to social media forum) on how to make the best of social media.
  • developing a social network to involve young children as part of a national reading agency project (
  • using tools as a way to invite feedback about premises and modernisation issues (photos of old carpets or wall paper etc – loaded onto a website for improvement ideas)
  • Libraries 2.0 – virtual libraries

I am really excited about the potential work that libraries could achieve using these tools. There are many more ways in which the library service could use these tools and we as a council have already explored flickr which i previously posted on my blog

On a broader note i am very impressed with the willingness and eagerness of my council to explore these tools as part of a wider web strategy framework and i must confess i am currently loving the work i do in this area.

I do have to manage my own expectations on what is actually deliverable and by when but the culture seems to be shifting towards something very positive, open and inclusive here.


8 thoughts on “Social Media and Libraries

  1. Hey Carl

    Libraries are definitely an interesting area to explore. Amazing stuff that could be done with social network site applications to integrate library services into SNS (manage your borrowing from your profile… find people with similar taste in books based on past borrowing… organise impromptu reading groups… etc.). The book as a local social object is fascinating.

    That’s probably a bit in the future… but the stuff on teaching people the basics of using SNS, Flickr etc sounds like it would fit really well into Digital Mentors developments… and

  2. oh and also worth looking at the ‘books I’ve read’ type applications for facebook – might be something that could be adapted for specific library services?

  3. Oh don’t be surprised that your suggestions are accepted. In fact, there are whole books written on the topic by librarians – you just aren’t up to speed with the full capability of what libraries might do yet! You’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg! I’m glad that you understand the capabilities for sure – I’m even gladder that you are facilitating your library to fast-track 21st century delivery of library services. Cool.

  4. BookCrossing is a brilliant way to get books out there – which is just what libraries want to do, although mostly we ask for them back!
    Devon Libraries released 300 books into the wild at a weekender for young people in July as part of our National Year of Reading celebrations.

  5. I don’t think it’s appropriate for public libraries to be subsidising courses for facebook, flickr, twitter and other large private for-profit companies. If you can run them on a breakeven footing (with sponsorship from the for-profits, course fees or whatever mix) then go ahead. Otherwise, use more social and liberal alternatives, such as or compatible sites instead of twitter, or focus on several tools for a practice, such as RSS.

  6. I think you’re missing the point if you don’t educate and support people to use the tools and become literate in the most common used methods just because you adopt some kind of righteous approach against for-profit companies.

    In the same way that libraries provide a free lending service for books that are otherwise commercial entities it makes perfect sense to me that they provide free online access to information and networks that are online.

    @Lesley S lol I’ll use that excuse next time I’m late returning my books πŸ˜‰

  7. Hi Carl, very interesting post, would you be prepared to share your presentation? I’d love to take a look, I can send you the one I’m giving at Camden in return?



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