Monday, November 15, 2010

Would You Be Friends With the Library 2.0?

A common question I hear these days is, "Does your library have a Facebook page?" And, "Why not?"

Before deciding whether the Darling Library should follow the latest trend, I have to ask, "Why? What would be the purpose? How will the Darling Library’s mission to 'serve the information and research needs of Hope International University community' be served by this great new thing?"

Regarding Facebook, one question I have grappled with is whether we belong in the social network. Do people want to be "friends" with the library?

Yes and no. Lots of people love and support libraries. Historically, Friends of the Library Associations are support groups-–usually fundraising for public libraries.

But friendship means something different on Facebook. In that sense, I doubt that many Hope students want the Library to be their friend--to Comment on their status or LOL at their pictures from Spring Break. That seems intrusive. But we can create a Page they can Like or a Cause people can Join. They can choose to receive updates posted to their Walls and to be able to give us valuable feedback via Comments.

We want to get the word out about the information and research resources available to our patrons. A Facebook Page would provide the Library a natural point of communication to raise awareness in a familiar environment that is shared by both online and on-ground students and faculty--a lot of whom are on Facebook. Currently:
The next question is: if we do dive in, how much and what kind of information would we Share with those who Like us? If we make too many updates, we run the risk of becoming white noise to be Ignored – or worse – Unliked!

Then, how much control do we really have over what happens with it? A Facebook Page is free so we don’t really have a say in how Facebook manages it. We could lose key features or the entire page at any time. Library 2.0 is not without its risks.

We must remember that no matter what’s happening now, the library’s mission and long standing core objective "to support the curriculum of Hope International University by providing information and learning resources to meet the information needs of students, faculty, and staff regardless of delivery method or medium" will remain long after Library 2.0 gives way to the next greatest thing.

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