For many years, there were limited ways in which librarians could reach out to the community. Posting flyers on community boards, taking out an advertisement in the newspaper, or sending out the occasional newsletter was about as social as most libraries could get. My, how times have changed. With the invention of social networking software it’s possible to connect with people 24 hours a day anywhere that has an internet connection. There are so many ways to interact online with the community it can seem almost overwhelming to find a place to start. It also raises the question of why libraries would even want to use social media to connect with patrons.
That’s where this blog comes in. The reason I created this blog is to help library staff members learn the different ways social media can help them reach out to their communities. When I say social media, basically I mean software that allows people to interact with one another instantly over the internet, whether through blogs, video, or social networking sites. It’s important that libraries utilize the many options that are available to them to inform, educate, and, most importantly, engage their viewers.
Social media “can foster deeper conversations with users…, enriching the library’s value in their lives, generating lively book talk, and connecting users to one another”, according to an article on the website LibraryJournal.com. Librarians have the ability to reach their community online in many ways and show them all of the resources that are available, both inside the library and online. They can also show the world that they have a silly, fun side. As the LibraryJournal.com article states, “connecting is about being real.”
Through social media, we have the power to create a brand and reach out to a vast population; it’s time we take advantage of that power and create something that can be used to build a relationship between library staff and its users, which will allow libraries to bring in new patrons and renew interest from established customers.