As of Thursday January 20, 2011 the Hugh and Hazel Darling Library has a face – that is, a Page on Facebook.
I have gone back and forth with myself about whether to create a Facebook account for the library for a few years now. At first, I thought, Facebook is a social network for socializing. Do our students want us in their Facebook world? And if our only purpose is to broadcast our news and events, we already had a blog and email for that. Social networking tools are for interaction, not one-way communication.
As Facebook evolved and created more appropriate accounts for organizations such as libraries, we no longer had to worry about being "Friends" with our students. (Our account does not allow us to view profiles or wall activities of those who Like us--and we prefer it that way.) The questions became more about the kind of face we should have. Issues such as institutional branding and coordination with Hope International University's Facebook Page, whether we would allow anyone to post comments, links, photos, and start discussions on our Page (we do), and who would maintain it became the focus. Then how would we let people know about it? And how much information would we broadcast how often? There is a threshold of information overload that is different for everyone. We don’t want to push out so much information as to become easily ignored, or worse, Unliked!
The purpose of the Library’s Facebook Page is the same as for our News & Events blog – to raise awareness of the resources available to our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and church leaders as appropriate.
We have put a lot of effort into using the blog this year to inform, engage, and build community-–and we have seen our usage statistics increase significantly. On the blog we can write long posts and include multiple links, photos, variable fonts and use other attractive display options. We can use Blogger’s templates to customize our "look and feel" and we can have numerous contributors who may schedule posts to be published later, allowing time for peer proofreading. And our readers can leave comments (which we live for) but they can also be monitored to filter out spammers.
By contrast, all Facebook pages look alike. Posts are quite limited in length as well as what can be included. And comments cannot be as easily monitored.
Blogs are discoverable by search engines but they do require users to discover them-–by a Google search, friend recommendation, or stumbling upon them during a web surfing trip. After finding one they like, users have to find their way back to it when they want to read it. They can save it as a "favorite," subscribe to it through an RSS feed (see Terri's post Anatomy of a Blog: Subscribe to this Blog!), or employ any number of creative ways to get back that require some effort if not a lot of skill.
Facebook, however, has a built-in network of people who don’t have to do anything but hit the Like button on our Page to get our messages to feed onto their walls. The Library just has to get a few Facebook people to Like us to start with and then the Darling Library goes viral!
This is not an "either or" situation. The blog will continue and the Facebook Page will point to blog posts. Facebook is temporal while a blog is... well, less temporal (as long as Blogger stays in business)--we will cover more about this in future "Anatomy of a Blog" posts.
If you have a Facebook account, look up Hope International University Darling Library on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/darlinglibraryor you can Like us our Home Page. Either way, we'll be thrilled to know you like us. You really like us!