Saturday, March 14, 2009

ACRL 2009 - Social Networking Literacy Competencies for Librarians

Excellent, thought-provoking papers about the use of social networking in the library and by librarians by both speakers that were well worth dragging my still-sick self out of bed and onto a Metro bus to slog through the rain at 8am on a Saturday morning for!

As usual, some teaser thoughts from my notes (can you tell my brain is on format autopilot?)

  • It is not enough to know what social networking is but able to understand nature and roles, importance in research, communication and information life cycle of the social networking site.
  • We have to evaluate the tools just as we do everything else and not jump on board just because it's new.
  • Librarians who are social networking-literate must be able to apply their current skills and curiosity to emerging and evolving resources.
  • Professional associations and library schools can support librarians with CE initiatives
  • Require new hires to possess social networking skills (yikes!)
  • How frequently do students use Facebook for academic purposes? Most ranked rarely and they feel Facebook impacts their academic study negatively.
  • When developing a virtual presence, consider students' actual perceptions of the library. Talk to your students, not student workers or this study's students.
  • Becoming a fan of the library involves less effort/awkwardness than friending.
  • Don't send apps or poke the students on Facebook.

My thoughts - It is impossible to verify with 100% accuracy any institutional online presence on Twitter. An individual may use a library or library product name, create a profile with the company logo, link to the company website and fill out all the appropriate profile details, follow (and be followed by) others in the field and 'talk the talk'... and not be sanctioned by the library or institution to represent them at all.

I am not going to give further attention to the individuals on Twitter I'm aware of who have done so with National Library of Medicine (NLM) by linking to them here, but be aware that they do exist. As it was in January and still the case now, there is no official NLM presence on Twitter.


Susan Kistler said...

Great post Nicole!

I have one possible option for libraries (or other formal institutions) considering trying to have a presence on Twitter.

One can embed a twitter feed into a regular website so as to substantiate the identity of the feeder. For instance, I work with the American Evaluation Association. We use Twitter to drive our "Esoterica for Evaluators" microblog.

For us, this has served two purposes. First, it gives the staff a quick and easy way to share information about the great resources that may be of use to our members (we have installed twitterbar on staff firefox browsers). And second, it allows for our members to access this bullet list of information in four ways:

1. On our website (see

2. Via a traditional RSS feed (you can sign up for the feed right on the website)

3. Via our homepage on Twitter ( or

4. By signing up for the Twitter feed and having it fed out to them.

Lots of people don't realize that Twitter is actually driving this content when they access it via the webpage or RSS (although at the very bottom of the page it does say "Follow updates on twitter" which can be removed if one wanted to do so).

This approach might help if a library wanted to demonstrate the validity of its Twitter feeds (and as noted it has other benefits). However, it doesn't work well in reverse - when trying to verify the validity of a feed if you are a reader who signed up via Twitter.

Hope you are feeling better!

Susan Kistler, Executive Director, American Evaluation Association