Cartoon by Tom Gauld @ myjetpack.tumblr.com/
Reflecting on our Social Media unit and how libraries are embracing the phenomena across so many platforms ~ to sum it up in a word; interesting. It’s one of my favourite words, even the way the word rolls off the tongue is, well, interesting! I love being interested. I’d like ‘Always interested’ to be the thing I am remembered for, the words engraved onto my headstone, the final word on me and from me. I can think of no higher honour to bestow upon a human, an event, a situation, a thing, a life, than to think it interesting. There is just so much to be interested in in this world.
I have thoroughly enjoyed our journey through Social Media and how it can be utilised by libraries to reach new patrons. Growing up in Australia – such a large and, except for the coastlines, a mostly desolate country, way down the bottom of the world – every now and again a story would appear on TV or in the paper about children living far from the rest of us, on cattle stations, or huge farms, 100’s of kilometres from their neighbours, 1000’s of kilometres from me. I was always a little heartbroken for these outback kids who couldn’t get to libraries, though the thought of school being held in your own house, over a CB radio was something I envied. But to not ever be able to get to a library? How awful for those kids! The sensitive (and perhaps overly empathetic) child I once was need not have worried and fretted quite so much. Since my childhood, the big old world wide web has brought us all a little closer. It has brought libraries closer. Books and information are but a few clicks away for a substantial amount of us, here in our lucky country.
The many different social medias that libraries use to connect with users did not really surprise me. The fact that I hadn’t thought to find them, however, astounded me! I’m a book lover, a library lingerer, an information junkie. I have, and frequently use, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I’ve used YouTube for years, I’ve looked at a gazillion cake photos on Flickr…why had I never thought to add or search for libraries on any of these sites until this year? It’s a ponder-full question, one that will bug me until life gives me a heap of new ‘whys’ to consider and wrack my mind over. My brain likes a good hard think. This unit certainly provided that, in abundance.
I found Facebook and Twitter to be my favourite social media platforms to connect with libraries, perhaps because I am familiar (and then some!) with them both? Instagram is currently my favourite way to connect with the social media world, though that could change in a heartbeat. I’m a flitter-er like that, depending on how busy my Mum-ing, working, studying life is at any given moment; Instagram is ideal for now, for a quick squizz, a small chat, a double tap to show you like what you see and thankyaverymuch, that’s all folks. I delve in and out of Facebook, deactivating often because it is waay too easy for me to spend every spare moment I have
lurking catching up with what’s happening to my fb friends, and then wasting time wondering why I’m not having quite as much fun as my online friends are, rather than being present and living my own life, right now. There is even a name for this 21st century affliction – FOMO, as in, fear of missing out. And everyone’s life looks fabulous on Facebook, it really is a modern day album of all our best moments. Adding libraries to your newsfeed is a sure fire way to ease some of that FOMO, fo’ sure.
YouTube was fun, I didn’t really expect it to be, having used it for years as merely a music source and nothing more. My sons LOVE YouTube, they would quite happily spend all of their weekends on the site if I let them. After researching libraries and YouTube though, I’d happily spend all weekend on there too, if I could. But I can’t. So I won’t. Parents setting good examples to kids and all that stuff…I’ve bookmarked a huge amount of pages though, for that rainy day in the future when time is mine again, yaknow…retirement.
All in all, social media is a way for libraries to connect with current patrons, possible patrons and future patrons, in ways that have never been available to us before. I believe it is a necessary channel of communication if libraries are to maintain their relevance in this century. Libraries are information centres. The way forward for libraries is to embrace the information highway. Social media is the guaranteed way to ensure maximum publicity for minimum cost. And what’s not to like about that?