A Whole Lotta ‘Like’ – The Benefits of Facebook to Libraries.

Being a book lover, and a library linger-er, even the thought that there are people in the first world who don’t hang out in their local library, let alone know where their library is…well it makes my heart go funny. All those books just waiting to be read! Computers with free wifi! Toy libraries, story time, homework help…ya gotta wonder who wouldn’t know about libraries and all the wonderful services they offer.

According to David Cowling, the Founder and Editor of http://www.SocialMediaNews.com.au 49% of Australians have a Facebook account. That’s a whole lotta audience, even when you take into consideration ‘dead’ accounts and lost passwords. Utilising Facebook to reach people who previously had no idea of the many and varied resources available in libraries in the 21st century is sheer genius. To not do so is wasting a valuable form of free advertising. What’s not to like? Pun intended.

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Image thanks to http://www.digitalintellegencetoday.com

The most recent statistics available on Facebook user demographics, available from http://www.businessinsider.com.au/a-demographic-breakdown-of-social-media-2013-3 state that 86% of all Facebook users are between the ages of 18 and 29. That’s a whole lotta selfies!

Sticking with the statistics because I find them awesomely interesting, the National and State Libraries Australasia’s most recent report on library user demographics, have a peek at these at http://nsla.org.au/sites/www.nsla.org.au/files/publications/NSLA.public_library_stats_2011-12_0.pdf , indicate that only 44% of us are members of a library?! That is just not enough to satisfy a future library worker (me!).

So how do we find more library lovers? By making libraries visible and present in places people like to hang out. That’d be Facebook, achieved by encouraging ‘likes’ and ‘followers’. And once we have the attention of our future clientèle, how to we keep it? By raising awareness of what libraries are all about now; the services available; books of interest; behind the scenes information to add a human face to what many may still think of as an archaic institution. Shatter the myth of the stern shooshing librarian.

For libraries now and in the future, I can only think; thank heavens for social media. And for tech savvy library workers. Hallelujah indeed! Facebook allows libraries to reach out to parents across the globe, parents who, since the demise of every family owning a very expensive set of hard cover encyclopaedias, had no idea how to help their child find out what year Einstein gave us his Theory of Relativity (1905 and 1915) I asked, and received an answer, and suggestions of further reading, within 15 minutes from Boise Public Library and Information Services, by using the ‘Ask a Librarian’ feature on their Facebook page. Just. Fabulous. That’s a whole lotta social media savvy!

Facebook gives libraries a chance to show themselves off, selfies of books? What a marvellous idea, books can’t pull ‘duck face’ pouts! Cooking shows are all the rage? Stop by and check out our collection (on the shelves, in the 640’s). Want to know what’s going to happen next on ‘Game of Thrones’? Read the book before your friends see the show on TV, you can find it in the fiction section at 813/.54 21. Selfies, cooking and Game of Thrones are all massively popular at the moment, posting anything about these topics on Facebook is bound to attract people. A whole lotta new ‘likes’!

And it would be a shame to waste an opportunity ‘like’ that. Pun intended again. That’ll never grow old…

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