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.

null
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…

Social Me – dia

My love of social media was a slow burning ember. Trawling the internet for hours seemed utterly more preferable to ‘connecting’ with people I couldn’t wait to get away from at school. Or family I’d spent a lifetime avoiding. Ugh! Who would?

Well, that’d be me. Eventually. I dabbled in myspace, more for the music than anything. I recall my ‘music’ section contained about 60 or so bands, most of them obscure or uber-indie ~ ya know, to represent my individualism ~ same as everyone else. Myspace gave me a mild incentive to waste hours engage, uploading new themes for my page; the perfect this-is-me-trying-hard-not-to-look-like-I’m-trying-hard pic; updating my about me…lucky I was only a dabbler, otherwise I’d have been hooked. Social? A little. About me? My first chance to make it so. Media, hell yeah! How else would I discover new music (besides Triple J)?

In 2006 my friends started badgering me to join this site called Facebook. It sounded like my idea of hell. I had minimal interest in ‘connecting’ with anyone I went to school with, I made a physical effort to catch up with the family I liked spending time with and all my friends ~ the nagging ones ~ were at my house, all joyfully serenading me with a constant chorus of ~ “join Facebook, it’s great”. And while I was busy entertaining my lovely tribe of gals, family and funny enough, no school friends, they joined me up to Facebook. Without my knowledge, though with enough intimacy and familiarity with me that this wasn’t an issue when it came to security. Friends huh!?

I could have deleted it. I could have ignored it and let it float through cyberspace as yet another empty page. But I had a peek. A small glimpse. There was a little red box with the number 11 in it. Friend requests. Really? I wonder who? And down the rabbit hole I went. Quite happily too. I loved seeing that little red boxy thing telling me someone wanted to be my ‘friend’. Wanted to be my friend. Wow. So many notifications! Back then the ‘like’ button was still a pipe dream. If you liked something someone wrote, you had to say so, with real, as in typed, words. Carefully considered words too; there was no edit function, and I may be wrong (it was eons ago now, and Facebook updates itself every other week these days..) but I don’t think there was a way to delete what you’d written. And everyone could read everything written on your wall. My nightmare had become a lovely, and rather addictive, dream-like place to present the version of myself that I had never had a chance to put out there before. I was all over this newfangled social media thing, how could I deny it with all those little red ‘friend request’ and ‘notification’ boxes. And seriously, how good is that for the ego!

My last born child was a baby back then. My first and second born only used the computer for assignments and games, my husband was still computer illiterate. Thanks heavens. I became mildly addicted to the feedback and recognition a post on Facebook gave me. I started playing a game called ‘Fairyland’, harmless enough. But not. Addictive, in a word. But friend requests from all around the world! Still, safety first, you can never be too sure. So I put in place rules ~ never pay to play games; never accept friends who weren’t friends with my friends; only play when the baby is asleep and my work at home was done. Soon came the next game, and then the next. As much fun as they were, and as lovely were the people I relied on ~ for fairy dust; to buy my cooked products; to harvest my farm ~ I realised that Facebook, or rather, it’s games, had started taking a rather huge chunk of time out of my life. So I deactivated, for the first time.

Twitter kinda eased the pain. After the constant notifications and camaraderie of Facebook, I couldn’t just give up all that attention! I joined Twitter, as a voyeur at first, it seemed to be the domain of the highly educated and highly opinionated. And compressing your thoughts into 140 words or less? Not really my over-exuberant-with-words style. But interesting enough to look at. And slowly delve into, with what I assumed were witty comments on life as we know it, comments to journalists and authors who I would never had been able to get my words, admiration and opinions seen by before. It’s still not the easiest social medium platform for me, but it serves its purpose when I want to respond to something immediately, especially TV shows on ABC and SBS. And the happy dance I do when something I have written is considered worthy enough to be retweeted…well, that’s my own sight to behold. But you can imagine. All about social me – dia indeed.

Then came Instagram. Oh how lovely was this idea ~ share your life in pictures. People can like them, others can see that your pics have been liked and like them too. Simply brilliant. The problem here is ~ everyone with an iPhone (it was an iPhone only app back then, the sole reason I purchased one)  can take a good pic once they apply one of the filters offered by Instagram. Or any of the multitude of other photo apps that sprung up after Instagram hit the scene. How do I make my snaps stand out? How do I get more followers?. Better yet, I made a conscientious decision not to seek these things out. A small community of like minded snappers would make my soul feel more whole than trying to get to the popular page.

I’ve dabbled quite a lot in social media since my myspace days. A blog or two started but never really taken anywhere past the first few posts. Google circles, Snapchat and Kik. I gave them a whirl and deleted them quicksticks. If it’s not my scene, I’m ok with that. That’s the beauty of social media ~ there’s always something else to try. Youtube is what I use to seek out music these days, but my kids use it for almost everything, I expect eventually I’ll do the same. Through my adventures with social media I’ve made a few long lasting friends from my Facebook gamer days, one lady I ‘know’ lives at the top of Alaska, saw Janis Joplin and The Doors live in San Francisco back in the day, and has lived a happy  hippy life off the grid since the late 90’s.  Off the grid, but still connected to the world through social media. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? I have a few ‘friends’ in Portland, USA, who make me laugh every time I read or see their posts or pics. We may not ever physically meet, but it is comforting to know there are people on the other side of the world who get you and think you’re important enough to keep in contact with. Without social media, my world would be much smaller. And who would lmfao at my lame jokes?

Blogging, well, here we are. If you’ve read this far ~ if you’ve read this at all ~ then I pretty sure we have something in common. Hello, how are you? Who are you? This is who I am, I hope you like me. If you don’t, it’s painless though, because I’ll never know!

I imagine there is an ideal social media platform for every one of us (with access to computers, lucky ducks we are), a form of communicating our thoughts and ideas and opinions with the world through whichever medium we prefer. Posts, music or games on Facebook, pictures on Instagram and Snapchat, short blurbs of opinion of Twitter and pages of boards on Pinterest. All these sites have opened up the world for so many of us. We have a never before had such an opportunity to share our thoughts, opinions, likes and dislikes with anyone else with access to a computer. All about me! And you! And them! There’s not much to complain about really.