I searched the site for signs of Library 2.0. The website has an Ask A Librarian email service but no online chat. I found a Facebook Like button beside their list of Contacts. It seems that the Facebook page is available only if you have a Facebook account. This and the fact that their Facebook page isn’t publicized on their homepage might explain why they have 4 likes only. :(
I did some searching around online to see if any of the branches in the system have a Facebook page, and it turns out that a few do. The Mount Pearl Public Library, and the Corner Brook Public Library have active pages with photos, events, news, and regular updates.
MPPL’s Facebook page has a really cool application that is new to me, but that’s been around for a while. It’s possible to search the library’s catalogue from Facebook! You click Catalogue on their homepage, which takes you here, and then you type in your search words (say “Fahrenheit 451″), and it takes you to the catalogue. For those who prefer to take a shortcut, they can skip right from Facebook to the catalogue without having to visit the library’s page at all. I would definitely take advantage of this Facebook application.
MPPL posts regularly and similar to many other libraries we’ve viewed, they announce upcoming events, post photos from past events, and comment on and link to related news. And, unfortunately, as with most other libraries, there is very little response to the posts and only a “like” here or there. It’s not necessarily a measure of who is paying attention, but I think it does register patrons’ hesitancy or lack of need to comment on a library’s Facebook posts. It seems that library’s are having difficulty using Facebook as a social networking tool.
The Corner Brook Public Library has a link to their catalogue and the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries e-library on their Facebook site. The content they post is similar to MPPL’s. They have some recent posts about a Silent Auction and a Family Literacy Day Prize Draw contest. These posts announce or document an event that takes place in the library, but the Social Networking Librarian thinks that libraries could do more: “Use your facebook fan page and twitter account to promote a contest. This will more than likely get better results than your everyday posts and updates. Require your patrons to answer a question or do something on the page.”
An online contest would be a great way to encourage patrons to follow a library on Facebook if they don’t already and to contribute to creating content on the page. Contests that would take place on Facebook could be advertised in the library (instead of the other way around). An example of a contest that would work well on Facebook is a photo contest of a favorite spot in the library or a patron with her/his favorite book.
There’s no screenshot in this blog post. Although the two libraries’ Facebook pages both have links back to the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries, the Public Libraries webpage does not have a link to these libraries’ Facebook Pages. Visible Facebook buttons on the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries site are a good place for the library to start to attract more patrons to the libraries’ 2.0 tools.
As a final thought, in an earlier post, I mentioned David Lee King’s article “Humanizing Your Facebook Pages” and his recommendations for how libraries can accomplish this. I wonder, though, if there are some limitations to the degree to which a library page can be humanized. Facebook is built primarily around a network of “friends,” of individuals with faces, personalities, interests, and complaints, and who have been ensnared in Facebook’s photo tagging system embarrassing themselves, creating art, getting married, and engaging in other human activities. People relate to each other as people on Facebook. Are libraries maybe a bit out of place on Facebook? Is it difficult for them to find their way in simply because they can only humanize their pages to a certain degree?