by Sarah Kosofsky

The pages on Facebook: people “like” their favorite bands, authors, and heroes, but would anyone consider “liking” their library?

The answer, for everyone with a passion for reading and research, should be yes.  More and more librarians are using social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to reach their patrons.  According to a study done by the South Carolina State Library, 78.6% of librarians interviewed in the survey believed that social networking websites were an important part of a library’s marketing and promotion strategy.

In a separate study, it was revealed that 84.3% of librarians who used social media sites utilized Facebook to promote their libraries.  Twitter was used by 49.2% of librarians who used social media to connect with patrons. Many libraries have links on their websites that lead to the library’s Facebook or Twitter page. Librarians oftentimes entice students to follow the libraries on social media sites by announcing special events or fun study breaks exclusively on those sites.

What else is promoted on the social media pages of libraries?  It depends on the library, of course, but updates and notifications could include alerting patrons to anything from new services or products being provided by the library to special deals on a library's cafe fare.

There are oftentimes problems with consistency when libraries use social networking sites. This occurs because most libraries don’t have an employee whose job is dedicated entirely to maintaining the library’s social media accounts.  Instead, it is usually the job of multiple librarians to maintain these accounts.  This makes it more difficult for librarians to have lengthy conversations with anyone on any social media websites.

Although it might be a bit unexpected for libraries to join the social media landscape, many have been using the digital resources to their advantage for a long time.  Social media use between libraries and their patrons will likely be a great tool for connection and improvement.