Social networking Web sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have been growing more and more everyday. They have been expanding so much that not only are teens and 20-somethings using these sites, but they are also affecting the Baby Boomer generation. Since these sites are growing so much in popularity, many libraries are seeing them as a tool to reach out to their patrons.
Michael Stephens, assistant professor of library and information science at Dominican University in River Forest, said “The best libraries will offer multiple venues for discussion. You’ll have multiple channels to find your way to no longer [just] a Web site, but a Web presence.” He also teaches a class called, “Library 2.0 and Social Networking Technologies,” and said that the number one group of people moving to social networks are ages 30 and up.
It is important for libraries to be proactive and stay current with the trends to stay effective, rather than become outdated. These sites allow people to connect with each other, as well as allow libraries to connect with their patrons. Amy Alessio, teen coordinator for the Schaumburg Township District Library said, “The library needs to keep its perception and its service current or we’re going to lose folks.” She uses social networks, such as Twitter, to let people know about the various programs and services that they offer. She found many adults and authors are following her library’s Twitter page and said, “I put something up on Twitter for a program that only has a few spaces left and I almost always get a call from a parent.”
Not only do social networking sites inform patrons about their local library, but they also can bring libraries together to share ideas. They can see what other libraries are doing and if that is something they could or want to start. It is also a tool for passing along information about budget cuts and what is going on in the industry. The North Suburban Library System said that they use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with its member libraries and professionals within the industry.
For libraries to continue to effectively reach out to their patrons, they need to stay current with the times by utilizing social networking sites and creating a Web presence. Peggy Carlson, assistant director of the Geneva Public Library, said, “We think it’s the way of the future, and we’re going to be integrating it more and more into our service.”