Monday, July 09, 2007

One does not initially think of libraries and MySpace in the same sentence.

Yet it works. I've just looked at some examples of libraries creating pages on MySpace to reach out to their targeted communities (mostly teenagers/college students). What blew me away was the number of people who had "friend-ed" them--some libraries had over 1,000 friends listed on their profile pages. Clearly, they're doing something right.

I find this exciting because now libraries are starting to reach out instead of waiting for people to come to them. In this age of google, it's hard for patrons to see why they should bother coming to the library if they can just google everything. But the library is more than about finding information, it's about learning new things, being exposed to different ideas. It's a center of community, and now it is adding a virtual component to that community.

I think libraries need to remember that the key here is to maintain the page as other MySpace-ers do: shake it up, and keep up. Static pages are last century--MySpace is about networking, which means it's a two-way street: people will respond to you, and you need to respond back. Libraries also should talk about more than just what the latest books are in the collection--after all, books are but a part of the collection, no longer the main thing (though they remain so for me). Do they have what it takes to keep up, and maintain it?

Kelly makes a interesting point about social networking fatigue and wonders how it will affect the library's focus on providing quality service to their patrons. I think this is a valid concern to address--a library really needs to determine what will serve their patrons best.

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