Libraries + Social Media Done Right a.k.a. How to Be Hip Without Being a Hipster

The Short of It

My reflections on the following articles about the use of social networking in libraries:

David Stuart – “Web 2.0 in libraries should be more than social media”

ALA | 2012 State of America’s Libraries Report – “Social networking in libraries”

Basically I agree with David Stuart and argue that libraries should resist the urge to be hipsters by carefully choosing how and when they integrate social media tools into their services. 

The Long of It

First, let me identify what I deem to be the defining characteristics of most hipsters.   Hipsters constantly need to consume the next new thing because part of being hip entails knowing or having something before everyone else has it.  Hence, the very mark of a hipster is exclusivity – once something becomes inclusive – it is no longer worthy of a hipster’s attention.

Applied to the field of librarianship it is easy to see why libraries should be careful not be influenced by the hipster when deciding how to integrate social media platforms into library services.  If the mantra of the hipster is ‘exclusivity’ the mantra of the librarian should be ‘inclusive, inclusive, inclusive.’  Libraries and librarians shouldn’t blindly chase the next new fad in social media solely to entice users who won’t appreciate the effort long-term.

Of course this is not to say I agree with people who think social media is a complete waste of time.  Unlike one of the commentators of the ALA article, I don’t think social media is a “gimmick” that does nothing to contribute to the “core mission” of libraries.  I would argue instead along the same lines as David Stuart, that social media is a tool, not a toy, and should be treated as such.  Meaning instead of picking up and dropping various social media tools as a hipster would, what is necessary is thoughtful application and integration of social media to enhance services.  (Example: instead of creating a twitter feed that no one actually follows just because it’s “cool” libraries should use twitter to meet specific needs of specific patrons – such as notifying patrons who sign up for the service through twitter when a book or DVD they ordered is ready for them.)  As Stuart argues in his article, libraries and librarians should move the discussion beyond whether or not one knows about Tumblr or Pinterest, and start asking questions about how those platforms, if at all, can be used to enhance the services provided to the public, as well as how to track usage of those platforms in order to improve upon and tailor the service to the particular need at hand.  In other words social media is like any other tool, if you don’t actually have a use for it, or if you don’t know how to use it properly, it’s not going to be very useful.  If on the other hand you have scope for the tool and know how to use it, social media  can be a very useful tool indeed.


What’s All This Then!?!?!?

About This Blog

The Short of It

This is a blog about information science.

The Long of It

Specifically this is a blog about my personal experiences pursuing a Masters in Library Information Science from Syracuse University through their online distance learning program.  Even more specifically this is a blog about understanding information science through the lens of political science and the law.

About Me

The Short of It

Please visit my website: as I am quite proud to have designed it myself using html code and CSS.

The Long of It

In a lot of ways I have the soul of a cranky 80-year old man – but instead of yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off the front lawn I yell at the T.V.  More specifically, I yell at the news.  I look forward to Sunday morning’s political roundtables like I used to look forward to Saturday morning cartoons as a kid.  There is just something so absurd and incredibly entertaining about a group of highly educated and supposedly intelligent people sitting around to disagree about whether or not Romney strapping his dog to his car on summer vacation should and or will have an effect on the election of the President of the United States.  While not one for drama or gossip in my personal life, political fracases fascinate me.  Don’t get me wrong, a part of me does lament the rise of the political pundit and their often inflammatory opinions in lieu of actual facts and information but another part of me, wants to celebrate each and every national drama that plays out in both traditional news media outlets and social media platforms. My decision to pursue a degree in information science therefore is due to my fascination with how the information age is transforming the political (and legal) landscape of this country and the world.  I want to understand how a person’s blog, Facebook status, and tweets become little streams of data that merge with other little streams of data to become a part of a national conversation.  I want to understand how people gather and consume information, how they convey that information to others, and how they use that information to make decisions.  Decisions that range in scope from whether or not they buy a bottle of water vs. quench their thirst at a water fountain –  to whether or not they vote and who they vote for.