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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Reflection on Social Networking: Delegate some of it!

I have used social media to build relationships with colleagues worldwide. Blogs, wikis, Sharepoint, Yammer and homegrown online collaboration software are our Web 2.0 tools of choice. It was interesting to contrast my current profession's use of Web 2.0 with that of my future profession; according to the American Library Association’s “Social networking and libraries” 2010 State of America’s Libraries Report, few libraries are actively engaging in social networking. (American Library Association, 2010). I believe this may be in part due to resource constraints.

From my experience, social networking is most valuable when it culminates in an ongoing conversation: Blogs published, Wikis moderated, Twitter feeds created, Facebook updated, electronic comments addressed. Without this dynamic flow of information, the audience stops participating in the dialogue and, ultimately, stops accessing the content. Given that many librarians are already employing traditional communication channels to meet the needs of those without convenient computer access, they may not have the time to also frequently engage patrons through electronic channels as the “Social Networking Moderator”.

As a compromise, perhaps the “Social Networking Moderator” role could be shared with carefully selected volunteers interested in building their Web 2.0 toolkits. To guide this approach, the librarian should provide a comprehensive yet succinct online strategy for the library and moderator guidelines. This documentation will help ensure a consistent library message despite multiple communicators. Please note that I am only advocating delegating some of the responsibilities associated with serving as the only moderator for a large organization. The librarian should still stay engaged in the Web 2.0 conversation to make sure the messaging is appropriate and patrons are heard.

References

American Library Association. (2010). Social networking and libraries. In The State of America’s Libraries. Retrieved June 30, 2010 from http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/mediapresscenter/
americaslibraries/socialnetworking.cfm

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