Reference Services & Social Networking - Being on the cutting edge of engagment


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An analysis of current Reference Services trends in use of Social Networking by libraries in North America and Canada. This is part of a presentation of graduate work in Reference and Information Services at University of Rhode Island with Professor Amanda Izenstark.

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Reference Services & Social Networking - Being on the cutting edge of engagment

  1. 1. Ariel Dagan Laura Hogan Reference 504 Prof. Amanda Izenstark 7/25/2013
  2. 2. “One of the best means in making a library popular is to mingle freely with its users, and help them in every way” (Zabel, 2011) From 1876, The Library Journal, "Personal Relations between Librarians and Readers" by Samuel Green
  3. 3. The Social Media Revolution in a nutshell: Social Media began in the late 90's and continues to grow Please click and watch 3.5 min introductory. At end of clip click space bar for next slide
  4. 4. There's a difference between Social Media & Social Networking "Social media is a way to transmit, or share information with a broad audience." & "Social Networking is engagement with people who have common interests and build relationships and community through social networking sites."
  5. 5. Facebook/Myspace/Google+/LinkedIn Social networks based on user created profiles. Twitter Micro publishing social network limited to 140 characters. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed Content delivery tool for news and any web content. Podcasts Audio content files that can be distributed or downloaded. Flickr/Picasa/Instagram Image (photo/video) sharing social networks. Pinterest/Delicious/Reddit/Digg Social networks based on bookmarking tools. Blogs Publishing tool with option to allow readers to comment on content. Wiki Collaborative website tool for the creation and editing of info by community. Skype/Google hangouts Live videocasts. YouTube/Vimeo Video sharing social networks. Social Networking Tools - used in various ways across social media channels
  6. 6. Phone Support / Ask A Librarian (considered social-networking) At times used by Voice Over Internet Protocol Email Support / Ask A Librarian Text Message Support/ Ask A Librarian Live Chat Support /Short Message Service/Ask A Librarian Schedule consultation with subject specialist/ Ask A Librarian Feedback/Suggestion Give user an opportunity for their words or voice to be heard and considered valuable. Social Networking Tools - continued Library Catalog with integration of Social Networking Open Source Built on code shared freely and supported by community of developers. Secured Network Access via WiFi Allows wide access to resources remotely. Information Content Production Mashups Combination of multiple applications for creating new web service not available.
  7. 7. Social Networking Tools - continued Tagging Tool to identify folks in images,creating blog labels or other web content - folksonomy. Reference Librarians need to be aware of all of the tools and pick and choose carefully. FriendFeed Real Time social networks aggregator. iTunes U Services for uploading and sharing educational content. SecondLife Virtual social network environment where millions of users have avatar profiles. Foursquare/Facebook places/Gowalla/Yelp Geolocation & gamification social networks. QR Codes Scanned by mobile reader app and linked to web content.
  8. 8. Why should libraries care about Social Networking? Libraries can connect with the physical community, create new communities, share information, and become a valuable resource.
  9. 9. Librarians Should Also Care about Mobile Agility Patrons are going to want to be connected to the library via their mobile device
  10. 10. We must use new methods to stay connected to our teens inorder that they remain patrons in the future. Libraries HAVE to become Mobile Friendly Since:
  11. 11. Findings from professional literature:  Reference Services and Social Networking has lots to do with listening that in turn leads to greater results. (Bell, 2012)  Librarians understand the importance of service and therefore are providing patrons easier access to information. (Bell, 2012)  Values of participating on one social network can be transferrable to many other social networks. (Jennings, 2012)  Reference questions via Facebook are greater than email, phone, IM and direct Face to Face Reference. (Aharony, 2012)  Content production is produced individually and through on-line collaborative efforts. • On-line tutorials • Strategically placed widgets on the website • Subject guides and LibGuides LibGuides designed by URI librarians (Gilson, 2011)
  12. 12. Best practices at various libraries: Vancouver Public Library, Canada 3rd Largest public library in Canada Uses BiblioCommon so signed in patrons have many ways to interact with the online catalog. The features they utilize are visible at (Cahill, 2011) Sam Houston State University in TX is using the virtual reality world of game SecondLife to connect students (Turney, 2011) In 2009 over 1358 librarians were involved in running Information Island (library) in SecondLife. NY Public Reference librarian with an Avatar named Hypatia Dejavu coordinates the efforts of 51 professional librarians who volunteer to run this service 80 hours weekly in two hour shifts. (Zabel, 2011) All of these libraries have multiple ways to interact with Reference Services.
  13. 13. Website is no longer primary access point: When a patron is on their mobile device, if the library has set up a “mobile friendly” version of the site, their device will default to a different home page which might have limited information and services. The library may also offer patrons a downloadable app with specific features. Libraries should promote subscribed database apps with library login option. Often Geo-location tools do much more than provide destination. Foursquare can add gamifciation, earning the user points for sharing and interacting. Augmented Reality apps is one more way to access reference services without using library website as point of origin - (Houghton, 2012)
  14. 14. Reference Services through Web 2.0 Because Open Source allows Reference Services to enhance user experience & allow ease of access using web 2.0 technology including widgets and API, patrons can: Discover Search Find Acquire Secured VNA via WIFI lets patrons use any of their own mobile devices (smart-phone, tablets, laptops, etc.) to easily access the network with user-name and pw. Patrons don’t even need to get up from their chair to chat with Reference Services. Additionally, reference services can offer image and video sharing, as well, to educate and inform patrons. (Welch, and June, 2012)
  15. 15. Reference Services through web 2.0 cont’d  Aggregators such as FriendFeed have become greatly important since many patrons are able to combine and take advantage of life streaming.  The enormous popularity of iTunes has lead to the development of a sub section called iTunes U where one can find education content from K- higher education. This as well is an underutilized are of high traffic.  Another Ask a Librarian service is scheduling consultation with a subject specialist in your area of research set time aside to answer your needs.  Blogs offer the opportunity for feedback and suggestions . Blog may have gateway to approve/deny comment giving more control than Facebook.  Social bookmarking networks are very popular. Yet librarians underutilize them even though indexing /categorizing plays such a large part of information organization. Of all the bookmarking SN, Pinterest is the fastest growing social network. (Welch, and June, 2012)
  16. 16. For each Pro a Con may be found Many of these tools provide an easier means to distribute and share information, such as: instructions through videos, books from collections, interviews with people on a podcasts or video casts, etc. - Pro Some of the tools require purchasing, technical skills , and training - Con Social Networking tools also provide a means for manipulating information for use in catalogs, such as: tagging. developing collections based on users inquiries etc. – Pro Tagging – Pro Misspelling -Con Need the technology infrastructure before you can have social networking in place . Patrons need to have the tools to access the resources (not all patrons have access to the technology out the library building)- Con Social networking requires constant monitoring. Often change of services and tools can occur due to the nature of the technology being implemented – Con (Aqil, Parves and Mohammad, 2011 and Brick and Click Libraries, 2012)
  17. 17. Reference Services & Social Networking The Reference Librarian can no longer sit and wait for patrons to come up to them with questions. A library, like a business, • must spend time and money to remain important to the end user. • must create effective marketing plans. The Reference Librarian • Has the responsibility and task of marketing Reference Services. • Utilize social networking tools to show and teach the patron how the library resources can help them. (Zabel, 2011)
  18. 18. Reader Advisory information can be found on many social networks. Blogs offer a platform in which current collections and new books are often discussed and comments. Many Patrons enjoy using the social networking tools GoodReads and LibraryThing where they can find communities of folks who share many of the same interest. Zabel points out the use on online learning has created a term for RS called “embedded” librarian. You may find them on Sakai, Moodle, Blackboard and other course management environments. Of course they are all embedded in various social media channels. Constant Change
  19. 19. It’s all about human interaction In 1876, Samuel Green talked about the role of the librarian. Much of it still applies today with regards to reference service and Social Networking: 1. If you gain the respect and confidence of readers, and they find you easy to go along with and pleasant to talk with, great opportunities are afforded of stimulating the love of study and of directing investigators to the best sources of information. 2. You find out what book the actual users of the library need, and your judgment improves in regard to the kind of books it is best to add to it. 3. One of the best means in making a library popular is to mingle freely with its users, and help them in every way. (Zabel, 2011)
  20. 20. A Case Study The Social Networking initiatives of The Worcester Public Library, spearheaded by Pingsheng Chen, is run by the electronic resource group made of reps from 5 librarians in eResources, Adult Reference and Youth Services. Their efforts have been recognized by their peers at the recent biannual award issued by the Massachusetts Library Association and shows that WPL stands out in its leadership in utilizing these digital tools. Currently WPL uses various platforms such as Facebook (1636 people following. 25-44 most popular age group), Pinterest (56 themed boards with 956 pins), Twitter (1411 followers), Google+(70 followers), 4 unique blogs that provide a platform for patrons to post their comments and queries, and established 32 diverse RSS feeds. Reader Advisory has seen a great boost thanks to the efforts of blogging. In addition Ask A Librarian reference services are available through phone, texting and email. In addition WPL is working on adding a YouTube . However they want to be certain their strategic plan for using this tool is in place prior to launching this additional channel. Even though WPL is managing their social networking based on their strategic plan and all indications show a good approach to information dissemination and public relations for library initiatives, programs and services , the current efforts fall short. For example; Pinterest has 199 followers in a populous of 200,000 patrons. Tweets are a copy of Facebook status update. Google+ has not been updated since June 29th and only one blog is current. RSS page has no information about what it is or how to use it from people who are unfamiliar with RSS Feeds. Need to already have RSS reading software such Google on IGoogle that will end November 2013 or Yahoo and many other providers. No visibility in library building of efforts to promote social networks or their content.
  21. 21. A Case Study (cont.) Social networking communities are considered by college students a necessity of daily life. Yet our findings show that user profiles encompass all ages of library patrons. These virtual online communities allow all to connect and collaborate. AAL Reference Services such phone are essential to social networking since they give an opportunity to establish a rapport with patrons. These days libraries who only have one line for phone support leave patrons frustrated on long hold queue or giving up. Another downside to this service is its limitation to library hours. RS via email provides patrons multiple choices such as:1) Contact specific staff person directly 2) Fill in online form. The problem there is that often the library staff get a very high number of email requests. Often brief factual answers are replied. For example WPL informs that service is limited to 3 obituary queries. Online forms demand personal information being requested and may be a privacy concern. Response time may be delayed. WPL asks for $5 donation per request for non MA residents to defray cost of offering these service to online community. In addition to the above text support has been become popular. While WPL only offers service during library hours, other libraries who use this option offer their patron 24/7 AAL text RS. The limitation of a one person/one line text service is inability to handle multiple requests during a rush or flow. Libraries who use online SaaS(Software As A Service) such as libraryh3lp easily avoid this. We have found libraries who use Live Chat but not WPL. Academic libraries such as UCLA have overcome problems of other libraries where patrons may require help when working on assignments when library is closed. Librarian must adjust to this additional service option as a standard in the same way they are accustomed to offering face to face reference services.
  22. 22. Social Networking Issues Authenticity Requires doing it well and being credible. Initiative Requires librarians to take risks and learn about it. Nonpartisan Staying neutral and not sharing personal or political views. Marketing based on strategically implementing social media tools that will enable engagement on various social networks.
  23. 23. Social Networking Issues "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread“ (Pope, 1709) "Each of these new technologies present new challenges to users’ privacy and freedom, although the speed of the changes means that possible concerns have been overlooked or downplayed in the rush to embrace the potential of new technology" (Stuart, 2012)
  24. 24. Ensuring Rights and Privacy  If the library creates apps, purchasing digital collections should follow the same privacy concerns as non-digital purchases.  Be vigilant about user rights and privacy.  Monitor interaction on social networks, i.e. Facebook.  Educate patrons on privacy issues.  Create, revisit and update library social media policy frequently.
  25. 25. Social Media Policy Contents Address different types of platforms and update as new technologies emerges. Use a disclaimer "The opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of { }." Don't share sensitive or proprietary info. Authentic representation of oneself. Post accurate information Use good judgement Understand copyright laws- cite sources. Be considerate of privacy. Be respectful in regards to difference of opinions.
  26. 26. Our recommendation for the library's Reference Department • Create a communication plan - what do we want to let patrons know about and how will it be done? • Set up a Blog service to promote Readers Advisory and other related topics. • Set up business page on Facebook • Establish Google email account to be used for Ask a Librarian • Set up a Twitter account • Create a Social Media Policy
  27. 27. Works Researched and Cited: Aharony, N. (2012). Facebook use in libraries: An exploratory analysis. Aslib Proceedings, 64(4), 358-372. Aqil, Mohammad, Parvez Ahmad, and Mohammad Asad Siddique. "Web 2.0 And Libraries: Facts Or Myths."DESIDOC Journal Of Library & Information Technology 31.5 (2011): 395-400. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 5 July 2013. Baudino, Frank, Carolyn Johnson, and University Northwest Missouri State. Brick And Click Libraries: An Academic Library Symposium (12Th, Maryville, Missouri, October 26, 2012). n.p.: Online Submission, 2012. ERIC. Web. 11 July 2013. Bell, S. (2012). Students tweet the darndest things about your library – and why you need to listen. Reference Services Review, 40(2), 217- 220. doi:10.1108/00907321211228264 Boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal Of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), 210-230. Cahill, K. (2011). Going social at vancouver public library: What the virtual branch did next. Program, 45(3), 259-278. Casey, Michael E., and Laura C. Savastinuk. "Service for the next-generation library." Library journal 1.9 (2006): 2006. Chen, Pingsheng. "WPL Reference Blog: WPL Wins a MLA Public Relations Award: 1st PLace in Social Media Category." WPL Reference Blog: WPL Wins a MLA Public Relations Award: 1st PLace in Social Media Category. Worcester Public Library, 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 05 July 2013. <>.
  28. 28. Works Researched and Cited Dankowski, Terra. "How Libraries Are Using Social Media." American Libraries Magazine[Chicago] May 2013: 38-41. Print. Ennis, Lisa A. et al. "Is The Time And Effort Worth It? One Library's Evaluation Of Using Social Networking Tools For Outreach." Medical Reference Services Quarterly 32.1 (2013): 12-25. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 11 July 2013. Freeman, Daniel A. "Archive of the 2013 ALA Annual Tech Wrapup." ALA Tech Source. American Library Association, 8 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 July 2013. <>. Gilson, Thomas V. "Reference Services TODAY And TOMORROW.“ Searcher 19.7 (2011): 32-35. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 13 July 2013. Houghton, S. (2012). Mobile Services for Broke Libraries: 10 Steps to Mobile Success. Reference Librarian, 53(3), 313-321. Jennings, Susan. "To Tweet, Or Not To Tweet?." Reference Service Review 40.2 (2012): 214-216. Library, Information Science & Technologies Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 5 July 2013. http://0- Knox, K. C. (2012). Social Media: Too Much of a Good Thing. Information Today, 29(11), 21. Maness, Jack M. "Library 2.0 theory: Web 2.0 and its implications for libraries." Webology 3.2 (2006): Macgillivray, Alexander. "The Business Of Free Speech." Index On Censorship 41.4 (2012): 92-93. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 21 July 2013.
  29. 29. Works Researched and Cited (cont.) Rod-Welch, Leila June. "Incorporation And Visibility Of Reference And Social Networking Tools On ARL Member Libraries' Websites." Reference Service Review 40.1 (2012): 138-171. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 5 July 2013. "State of America's Libraries Report 2013." Social Networking. American Library Association, n.d. Web. 09 July 2013. <>. Stuart, David. "Technological Threats To Privacy And Information Access." Online 36.5 (2012): 35-37. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 21 July 2013. Tsai, Janice. Choose Privacy Week. Choose Privacy Week Resource Guide. American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom, n.d. Web. 17 July 2013. <>. "The Business Of Social Media: How To Plunder The Treasure Trove." Reference & User Services Quarterly 51.2 (2011): 127-132. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 11 July 2013. Turney, Linda et al. "Higher Education And Emerging Technologies: Student Usage, Preferences, And Lessons For Library Services."Reference & User Services Quarterly 50.4 (2011): 380-391. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 8 July 2013. Woodard, Amber. "From Zero To Web 2.0 Part 1." Computers In Libraries 29.8 (2009): 41-42. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 11 July 2013. Zabel, Diane, ed. “Reference Reborn: breathing new life into public services librarianship.” Santa Barbara, CA. Libraries Unlimited, 2011. Print.