The journey through INF506, Social Networking for Information Professionals, has been an informative one that has allowed me to immerse myself in a multitude of social media and networking platforms throughout the semester. This has introduced me to all kinds of new ways I can introduce social networking into my professional, educational and personal lives to make the tasks I do every day easier and more fun. I've also learned how librarians and libraries can use these many Web 2.0 tools effectively to build up patronage and advertise services. “The truth is that in today's over-informed digital business world, where bloated data moves at the speed of thought, it is not who you know that really counts, but who knows you. Professional online social networking tools are invaluable in creating personal brand equity and raising awareness about who you are” (Steckerl, 2007, para.2). It’s important for library professionals to be on the cutting edge of technology in order for libraries to remain relevant, and this class has allowed me to not only learn these technologies my self but has allowed me to pass them on to my co-workers and the patrons I serve. While I've studied a lot about social networking this semester, I am going to focus on three topics that I've written about in this online journal over the semester that I believe reflect the core learning objectives of this class.
1. Delicious, a Social Bookmarking Tool-For class this semester I used many social networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and LinkedIn, but the one I found most useful was Delicious, a social bookmarking site. I had never used Delicious before and my experience with it was not easy at first because of technological difficulties with the website when trying to "follow" others. However, I think this first experience was helpful because one of the main points I think people need to keep in mind when using new social sites is to have patience. When problems arise, it allows users to evaluate the site they are using to determine if it can be used effectively and easily by new users. The problem with Delicious was resolved after contacting the site's administrators, showing that users and website administrators can work together to fix the issues that arise. Good customer service is important when trying to determine if a particular social networking tool should be used in an organization.
As for using Delicious as a social bookmarking tool, the website is very effective. I was able to add websites, articles and videos to my Delicious account as I browsed the web or completed readings for class. This helped me build a list of helpful resources to use for my research project and for other work related projects in the library. Delicious also allows users to use folksonomies, or tags to flag articles with terms that are relevant, making it easier to group items together in your account. As Rosenfeld (2006) mentions in his blog on folksonomies, this is a way of cataloging, something we know librarians love to do! “As sites like Flickr and delicious successfully utilize informal tags developed by communities of users, it's easy to say that the social networkers have figured out what the librarians haven't: a way to make metadata work in widely distributed and heretofore disconnected content collections” (Rosenfeld, 2006, para.1). In addition, users can 'follow' other people and see what they are adding and tagging to their accounts. If there is something relevant, we can add it to our own list of items.
It is extremely helpful to have one place where I can access and categorize all the resources, readings and even posts from other social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook all in one place of my choosing. I think this website is an accessible tool for professionals and students alike, making it easy to build lists of resources for purposes such as annotated bibliographies or other research assignments.
Delicious allowed me to learn a new technology and to analyze it's functionality for personal use but also as an information professional in a library setting.
2. A to Z of Social Networking In Libraries- AnnaLaura Brown’s (2010) blog article "A to Z of Social Networking in Libraries" was an extremely helpful one when it comes to analyzing social networking in libraries. As information professionals, we are always trying to evaluate services to make sure we are meeting the needs of our community in the library. We should also have a set of guidelines to evaluate our virtual services, and this article allows libraries to do so. With an informative list of evaluative tips and ways to analyze the library's social networking presence, this blog is something I believe all library professionals should read. If a particular library is not using social media yet, it is a great list to get ideas from and start setting social networking goals. If your library is using social media, it helps evaluate how effectively the library is doing so and if you have met some of the criteria already, move onto new goals. If a library has met all or most of the criteria, they know they are successfully providing important digital services to their users.
Evaluation should be an ongoing exercise in libraries in order to make sure the library is meeting users and employee needs and providing the best quality service possible. The "A to Z of Social Networking In Libraries" is an excellent tool to measure virtual services, a difficult task if you don't know where to start. In addition, keep in mind there are many free tools out there to start with. In a 2006 Library Journal article, Casey and Savastinuk (2010) state, “When thinking about ways to work toward Library 2.0, consider what services your library already offers that could be improved as well as new things that can be added. This includes both technology-based and nontechnology services” (para. 23). This is another example of how librarians can continue to brainstorm what services they want to add or change.
3. The Digital Shift and Information Policy-While we all know the world has changed dramatically since we've gone "digital," we don't always think of what else has changed with it. Now that we are reading e-books in stead of print books, watching videos on YouTube instead of on television and texting instead of talking on the phone, how has this digital shift changed our lives? While there are rules and etiquette we follow in our daily lives, what are the rules we follow online? The idea of information policy, or the rules we follow when we exchange and receive information, are being adapted to fit into this virtual world. For example, while there are set laws for print copyright, electronic copyright is a bit of a grey issue that publishers have recently been trying to work out. Also, when providing Internet use in libraries to patrons, libraries must create their own policies for patrons to follow regarding acceptable use, time limits and availability. There are many example of how information policy must change and adapt with the digital shift, and I believe information professionals must learn about how the library must adapt to these changes and consider the many of the social and ethical management issues that come along with being a digitized learning institution. This class has prepared me for planning and thinking about the ways libraries need to tackle these issues. The state library of NSW has compiled a helpful document, “Information for developing social media policies for public libraries” that can help managers begin crafting their own information policies.
Social Networking for Informational Professionals has taught me many new technologies and the issues that come along with them. As a library professional, I believe this class has played a crucial role in my social networking knowledge and development. This class has allowed me to learn new social networking tools, teaching me to examine those tools as a library professional so that I can determine how they will be used in a library organization, and how to evaluate those tools critically for the value and use they can provide to the library staff and community. This includes troubleshooting and remaining open to new technologies from a managerial perspective. As Partridge, Lee and Munro (2010) reinforce, more and more is expected of librarians as Web 2.0 professionals. A list of expected tasks “included how to write and post to a blog; create, upload, and edit photos, short videos, podcasts and screen casts; edit an avatar's appearance; and, know how to pick up a new device and figure out how to use it” (Partridge, Lee & Munro, 2010, p.2). It is extremely important to remain open and excited to new technologies in the workplace, as managers set the tone for the rest of the organization, but are also responsible for creating guidelines and information policies. Social networking should be an interactive way to extend services to the library community and staff support is the first step along the way. I will take away knowledge of many new technologies, in particular my case study on implementing a Facebook page for teens at the Ames Free Library, and put them to active use. In addition, I now have tools to implement other new technologies by passing my knowledge on to my co-workers and the community that I serve. I have tools to evaluate new technologies that we try, and I know that these services must have polices attached to them in order to successfully use them for educational purposes in the library. This class has been an invaluable learning experience in social networking and will allow me to continue to navigate the Web 2.0 world with a better understanding, an open attitude and an awareness of the issues.
Brown, AnnaLaura. (2010). "A to Z of Social Networking for Libraries |." Social Networking Librarian. Retrieved from http://socialnetworkinglibrarian.com/2010/01/22/a-to-z-of-social-networking-for-libraries/.
Casey, M. & Savastinuk, L. (2006). Library 2.0: Service for the next-generation library, Library Journal, 1 September. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6365200.html.
Partridge, H., Lee, J., & Munro, C. (2010). Becoming "Librarian 2.0": The Skills, Knowledge, and Attributes Required by Library and Information Science Professionals in a Web 2.0 World (and Beyond). Library Trends,59(1-2), 315-335.
Rosenfeld, Louis. (2006). "Bloug: Folksonomies? How about Metadata Ecologies?" Retrieved from http://www.louisrosenfeld.com/home/bloug_archive/000330.html.
State Library of NSW. (2008). “Information for developing social media policies for public libraries.”
Steckerl, S. (2007). Survival guide: Online social networking.FUMSI, (September). Retrieved from http://web.fumsi.com/go/article/use/2346.