Author Archives: Laura

Social media shines in the midst of a tragedy

This week I wanted to write about DropBox and how successful it has been with us internally. And then someone else wrote about it. And then Boston bombings happened.

I went to cover the reference desk just as the tragedy had occurred. Oblivious to what had transpired, my colleague who was getting off the reference desk, informed me of the bombings. She is an avid runner herself, so this was particularly hard hitting. We didn’t have much time to chit chat, as she was off to cover our chat reference service. As she hurried off, she left our computer on the boston.com website.

I left my browser there, and, in between assisting students, I would glance at my screen to see what was going on.

In the hour that I was at the reference desk, I saw a tragedy unfolding but also people coming together and using social media to mobilize. This was a live blog and something I’d never seen before. I was amazed at how promptly the website was grabbing tweets, YouTube postings, Instagram pictures, blog entries. You name it! Also, the site seem relatively reliable. You’d see some entries pop up and then immediately removed, as if someone was monitoring content and deleting inappropriate entries.

When something was not deemed reliable, it would do a disclaimer and many entries from sources did not make the cut.

In the hour or so that I was there, I knew which areas where closed off, where runners were being diverted to, that phones weren’t working, that there had been a registry set up to find your runner, that people were mobilizing to offer housing to those in need (a googledocs document was set up for this).

I was intrigued by the technology running this live blog. It turns out it is powered by something called ScribbleLive. One of their tag lines is: Powering storytelling. In real-time. I couldn’t agree more. And the people at boston.com knew just how to take advantage of it.

As far as uses for traditional libraries, I’m not so sure. But I can definitely see the use for large institutions. We all have had to deal with emergency issues, whether they are power outages (about a year and a half ago we had the biggest blackout in California’s history) or natural disasters (we’ve had our share of fires which bring our area to a standstill, other areas have hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) or any other situation where you need to get the word out fast and reliably.

Now that we have so many social media tools and people have different preferences as to what they use, utilities such as ScribbleLive are much needed tools. And it doesn’t hurt when they properly used.

My thoughts with all the people affected with the Boston tragedy. This is  what the live blog is reporting as I do my final save on the post:

scribblelive

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Facebook + Twitter + Blogs + Google+ = Too much!

overwhelmed
I recently created a profile for my library in Google+ and my headache is yet to go away.

I’m trying to separate myself as much as possible from my institutional presence. It is not that I don’t want to make myself accessible and make the presence personable but I want the page to look official. I don’t want to create a personal page; I want to create an institutional page. But to create a personal page, you must have an e-mail account. And to have google e-mail account,  you must be a real person!

So, I create an e-mail account to be used only for the library Google+ page and I associate the same secondary e-mail to this new account. Guess what? The password on my other existing e-mail account changes!

Long story short. The first hurdle was painful. I think I have my two accounts sorted out and set up just fine, with different passwords. Now, the even harder part comes. Writing posts, engaging my community.

I’ve been exploring Google+ as well as surfing library webpages, especially keeping an eye on the libraries in my area, the university and public libraries which I’m likely to refer students to, for their adoption of Google+. The adoption of Google+ is non-existent. Facebook and Twitter seem to be the dominant social media venues of choice. In Google+ itself, someone set up a page to track use of Google+ in libraries, Libraries on Google+The page has not had activity in almost a year, April 2012! At that time, there were 150 libraries in its circles. Even the person keeping that page up seems to have gotten overwhelmed!

I like my sanity. I enjoy having coherent posts for my community. At this point, it is preferable, at least for me, to tackle venues which are more popular, and simple to use. I find Google+ to be more cumbersome, with a higher learning curve. Facebook and Twitter are simple. We, at my library, struggle with engaging users on those two fronts, as well as our blogs. I would much rather spend my time and energy strengthening our presence in those social media venues where we already have a presence.  I like this advice. I’m not trying to win a race. I’m not trying to conquer all media. There are too many out there to compete! With Google+ in particular, I don’t mind sitting back and waiting it out.

Tools for managing social media

A lot of us are posting about not having enough resources, about having to be selective on which social media tools we choose to stay connected to our users, about the longevity of some of these tools that keep popping up, etc. I am in that same boat. Though not managed by me, my library has Facebook, Twitter and Blog presence. Blog posts are automatically fed into our Twitter account with shortened (bit.ly) urls. Personally, I am on Facebook, Twitter (though I hardly tweet), and just created a LinkedIn account. I’d like to venture into Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.

I don’t think most libraries, unless they are a very large institution with significant resources, have the luxury of a PR officer or a web team (as it used to be called) to manage it all. Most of us are trying our best and have added on the duties of creating accounts, posting, responding to users, etc.

There are so many social media tools out there that there are now tools to manage those tools! You can consolidate/schedule posts, be alerted when others comment, provide analytics (who is checking you out!), etc. Though it does involve creating more accounts, I’ve begun to explore this as an option. Being on the cheap at my job (I don’t have any funds to buy a subscription), I will look at tools that have a free option. Some of the tools are very sophisticated; some may not have a free option but you may be able to set up a free trial. I’d love to know if anyone is using any such tools and what your experience has been.

Google even makes life “easy” for you: they have set up a page of companies/tools which they know have incorporated Google+ into their social management tools! That is one nicely compiled page to start me off on my trek, though I haven’t joined the Google+ bandwagon yet.

Some useful articles to get started:

Social media and research

At least in academic libraries, one of the main goals is to support students and faculty with research. Not so much with getting them to read or recommend what to read but to assist them in fulfilling their research needs.

Social media seems to be mostly for outreach. But is there a tie/functionality between social media and research? Am I missing something?

I went through our research databases — we are mostly an Ebsco campus, but we also have SIRS, CQ, Credo, Proquest, Lexis/Nexis, Gale, etc. As far as I can tell, there is no use of social media within them. Should there be? Could there be? We integrate our chat reference service into Ebsco databases but that is not social media. We all know that the students are just ‘going to the Internet” to do their research. Will social media be a way to bring them back to authoritative sources? Will there be a way to put an authoritative seal on self-published wikis and blogs, similar to that of published journals and books? It made me cringe to listen to a woman in one of our videos about the demise of email talk about Wikipedia, how we didn’t trust it before and now is as or more authoritative than The Britannica. Really???

In listening to the Ebsco presentation, their social media efforts are aimed at their clients (the libraries and librarians). How do we, libraries and librarians, bring our users in?

If social media is for outreach at this point, how do we get our users to like us? We have a Facebook presence — our library that is. It has been liked by a mere 116 folks — and a good number of those are library staff. Our postings don’t get many views and with Facebook ever changing rules on how posts appear in people’s news feed, the situation looks grim. We don’t pay Facebook to promote our postings so not even those of us who personally like the page necessarily see the new postings. Our students are in Facebook — our campus page is faring much better in the likes count (5,454 as of this morning) — they just haven’t gotten to like our library page.

I’m looking forward to this class to learn how to effectively use social media to achieve the missions of our libraries.