Winnipeg Public Library

With 20 branches in Manitoba’s capital city Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Public Library serves a population nearly double that of Saskatoon. Similar to the Yukon Public Libraries homepage, WPL’s main page is nested under the city of Winnipeg’s city services site, which is a pity since I think the library merits its own site. On the other hand, people who are new to the city or checking out the city website might be more likely to stumble upon the library site.  The library has several buttons that connect to its various 2.0 tools, which can be confusing at a first glance.

I checked out WPL’s Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube accounts, and they use them in much the same way as the Saskatoon Public Library. WPL’s YouTube account has only a handful of videos that range from entertaining in-library programs to informative how-tos. They also have a blog called Readers’ Salon, a forum to discuss books. But since we were on the topic of YA lit. in the previous post and because WPL uses Facebook and Twitter in similar ways to the Saskatoon Public Library, I thought I would focus on WPL’s teen blog Booked in this post.

I didn’t notice the Booked button on their homepage until I had already found the blog through the blog button at the bottom of the page. The Booked button isn’t very helpful since someone who is new to the library or doesn’t know about the blog would have no idea what Booked is. The same applies to the Readers’ Salon button.

So what is Booked? Booked is an engaging blog space for teens. Booked includes a blog, online polls, events at the library, hot topics, reviews, top tens, a link to the catalogue and the library’s social media tools, and a space called The Mash Up that I have yet to fully comprehend. There is a “What is a Mashup?” button on Booked, but the site is currently under construction. From what I can see, the Mashup is a space for teens (not for librarians) to post their photos, poetry, and create collaborative fiction. You don’t need a WPL card to post to the Mashup. So far, there have only been a couple dozen posts, but I think it has the potential to be a relatively safe online space for teens to explore and share their creativity.

The blog portion of Booked has been running since January 2010 and is updated several times a month. The posts are mostly substantial reviews of YA lit., book awards, and reading awareness such as I Love to Read Month. Comments on the blog are not enabled, which is too bad since readers might like to contribute feedback about the posts and discuss books that are reviewed. The Top Ten lists are for the most part subjective and provide useful links to the library catalogue if you click on a title, which is a great way to use social media to bring patrons directly to the library’s catalogue.

The online Polls are few but have the potential to get important user feedback. So far, the polls have focused on both library and non-library questions such as “Which of the following series is the most futuristic?” or “Do you use your cell phone during class?” People can suggest a poll they’d like to see on the site and while this might produce some amusing polls, I think the library could do more to include polls that relate to library services or the information and entertainment preferences of teens in particular.

YALSA’s (Young Adult Library Services Association) Teens & Social Media in School and Public Libraries toolkit says that when teens “have the opportunity to communicate with peers, experts, authors, etc. via online social media they develop social and cultural competence,” when they “have a voice in the future of the school or the library by using social media they gain a sense of personal identity and value,” and they may also see how positive role models such as librarians engage with social media. WPL’s blog Booked has the potential to help teens develop strong online social skills, a voice for their future, and a sense of identity as well as provide a model for how teens can use social media for educational, entertainment, and social purposes. I never want to be a teen again, but if I were, I can see myself using this space to write collaborative short stories.

As a final thought, here are some tips from Michael Stevens about how libraries can use social media to connect with teens. Overall, I think WPL’s blog Booked is trying really hard to engage with teens, and is keeping the posts fresh and relevant. I hope they can keep up with the numerous services offered on the blog and keep teens coming back.

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