Social Media and Library Advocacy

The readings this week delved a bit deeper into specific SNS and what they offer for their users and what their users are getting out of them.  I particularly enjoyed the Advertising Age article “What your Favorite Social Network Says About You.”  You already know I love Twitter, so I hope you didn’t judge me based on that article!  I did enjoy the statistics in the article–Facebook users are more average because it is so big–Twitter users are more into pop-culture–LinkedIn all businessmen all the time.  When you take these statistics and compare them to the notion of Networked Publics in dana boyd’s article, we can really understand the general audience of each site and how our voice might fit in to those communities.  People more motivated than myself, have done extensive studies in order to determine the SNS best suited for their business pursuits so they can leverage their power the most.  As a user, I don’t really enjoy insincere tweets or status updates–I much prefer to friend users that are engaging in the community instead of using the audience.  I think a few library advocacy projects have been able to engage their community, empower them and also spread its message among a broader audience.

One such project, is the People for a Library-themed Ben and Jerry’s.  It began as a fun idea by New Jersey Librarian Andy Woodworth, to see who could come up with the craziest library-themed ice cream flavor.  He posted some thoughts to his Twitter and Facebook where friends and fellow librarians joined in.  Then Andy created a Facebook group dedicated to coming up with flavors and pitching the idea to Ben and Jerry’s.  The Facebook group kept gaining members rapidly and Andy garnered national media attention.  He had a golden opportunity, more important than actually getting a flavor at Ben and Jerry’s, he was able to capture many people’s ear on the importance of libraries and in turn, the public was able to share their ideas of flavors and their own stories of going to their library.  The momentum for the project all began with a simple Facebook group!

Since then, there have been other much more serious campaigns related to libraries, notably the Save our Libraries campaigns in New Jersey and Ohio.  Librarians were able to share contact information for their legislators to their communities to make it easy for people to voice their concern with slashed budgets and library closings.  In Pennsylvania, we had Snapshot PA, where library’s across the state posted pictures to a Flickr group of events, displays, people, and programs at their libraries which was then shared with PA legislators to display how important libraries are to their citizens.

There have been so many successful uses of social media in advocating for libraries over the past few years, it really is quite remarkable!  It allows people at all levels to be empowered and have a voice.  Social media (in general) has become the number one tool for uniting librarians and helping getting that voice heard to a broader audience.

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About sheli223

My name is Sheli McHugh. I'm a librarian at the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pa. I enjoy coffee, reading, watching movies and skiing.