Libraries Utilize Social Networking Sites

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.

libraries-use-social-networking-facebookMichael 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.

libraries-use-social-networking-twitter-logoIt is important for libraries to be proactive and stay current with the trends to stay effective, rather than become outdated.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.”

libraries-use-social-networking-connect-together-ideasNot 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.”

Libraries Take On New Roles

The job losses and pay cuts experienced by many people throughout the country have brought on new roles for librarians. Libraries are no longer just a place to check out books, music, and videos for free. They are a place for the unemployed to go seeking comfort and help during hard times.

An article in The New York Times described thelibrary books librarian roles new stresses put on libraries.

Without as much money to spend on leisure, more and more people are turning to the libraries’ free resources and entertainment. Many libraries are seeing as much as 10 to 30 percent increases in patronage, as well as double digit increases in DVD, CD, and audio book circulation. This means that a larger media selection is needed, as well as durable, replacement packaging.

Libraries are serving a whole new crowd of users. There have been 40 million visits to New York libraries over the past year, which is the largest amount ever over 12 months. With the unemployment rate up to 8.5% the highest since November 1983 these people are looking to libraries for job-seeking help.

library computers job placementMany libraries are now offering job-search desks, help writing résumés, and workshops to bring hope to the jobless. Librarians are being trained to help with these specific needs, as well as receive counseling from therapists. They are learning how to deal with the stress of dealing with sometimes very emotional job-seekers. At times, depressed and discouraged people may even try to talk to librarians for emotional support. This can be difficult for librarians. In addition, there has been an increase of theft and violence at libraries has brought the need for added security and support.

More than ever before, people are turning to libraries for entertainment, job-help, and emotional support. People are coming in to write a résumé that may have never used a computer before, or may not know how to read or write in English. Librarians need to be trained, in order to perform these tasks for the new roles in which they are placed. With the added help and support, frustrated job-seekers can be given hope for new possibilities.