This week’s readings were fascinating but also challenging to take in and process! Social media is seemingly so easy to join and use, but the significant challenge as seen in the readings is the importance of how social media is used, implemented and evaluated. This is true for any organization wishing to establish a productive social media presence, but in my case, I am thinking of libraries in particular.
Two points that really struck a chord with me were both made by Lauby. First of all, “the time to think about drafting a social media policy is now”. Secondly, one that I believe every reluctant CEO or library staff member needs to consider, is that “Social media or new media is really new media”. While creating a policy and then implementing social media in a library setting may appear to be a daunting task, it is important for libraries to buy in to the idea and formulate ways in which they can use this new media. In a perfect world, they could hire a social media specialist like Ford Motor Company’s Scott Monty. Sadly, the majority of libraries will not have the resources for such a person. It is imperative, however, for library boards to rethink how they use media and how they might need to discontinue something they have been doing in order to allow time for social media implementation instead. Has the library traditionally hung posters all over town, advertising its programs? What about the time spent creating traditional print media to advertise? Libraries would be well advised to consider moving some of their resources from these in order to allow for time to implement social media. While social media is in its infancy, it is here to stay, in one form or another. I love what Kroski‘s idea of using a wiki in order to “update your policy as new technologies develop.”
Libraries also need to clearly inform the public about what their policies are. I like how Ottawa Public Library clearly states here: “Ottawa Public Library regards online social media in the same way as its other information resources in accordance with its mission of serving Ottawa’s needs for learning, literacy and community connections.” In reality, it is “simple”, is it not? Libraries need to consider what their mandates are, what their privacy and harassment policies are, and make sure that these are included in their social media policies. What would be considered unacceptable in print or in person should also be considered unacceptable online. Libraries must ensure that someone, preferably someone who has been chosen due to his/her ability to understand new media and to stay on top of trends, and who understands the cultural nuances of the library, be able to closely follow these on behalf of the library.
While many would acknowledge and agree that policy and assessment measures are critical to a successful implementation of social media, can we really say what works? I would suggest it is too early to know. I do think that Laura Brown asks a simple but important question which we must consider: Why are we involved with social networking and is it really contributing to our library’s mission?”.