Technology is an integrated aspect of modern culture that greatly affects and influences users on a daily basis. To “ignore the whole thing and hope it all goes away” is not a viable option, especially not for institutions like the library who want to reach out to the community through whatever means possible. If society is embracing technology and the use of social networking platforms, blogging, microblogging, image sharing, audio, and cloud computing, so must the library. Not only will the library’s involvement in these technological mediums help it stay relevant to the population it serves, it will further stretch its range of resources and services to its community.
Facebook and Twitter are at the core of the library’s resources for raising awareness and reaching remote users. Updated information from the library’s profile shows up on its followers’ news feeds as either posts or tweets; users typically check their feeds multiple times a day. According to 23 Things UK, self-described as a “free online course which introduces library staff to social networking, online tools and mobile technology,” Facebook users worldwide represent “54% of all social network users.” This information was taken from “Social Networking Statistics,” based on findings from Browser Media, Socialnomics, and MacWorld. 23 Things goes on to explain, “Social networking is unbelievably popular and growing rapidly. The total number of Facebook users in July of 2013 had risen to 1.15 billion, surpassing the use of land line telephones and even email for a growing percentage of people.” Furthermore, Twitter is a well-used platform for microblogging and expanding a professional online presence. Due to Facebook and Twitter’s dominance in social networking platforms, if the library were to use social media, Facebook and Twitter would be considered a fundamental given.
However, 23 Things UK also explained that, “some authorities prohibit libraries from having their own Facebook page. Others are considering having a page and are evaluating the security, access to the site and staff time required to maintain it.” Facebook and Twitter’s security is questionable, it is one of the networks’ greatest weaknesses, and this reality is becoming increasingly apparent to libraries. Privacy and security issues are common among both Facebook and Twitter. 23 Things also explains that “Some microblogging services, including Twitter, offer features such as privacy settings, which allow users to control who can read their posts. In the business world, security can naturally be a concern, since there is potential for sensitive information to be publicised on microblogging sites.” Institutions like the library must be wary of the dangers of security breaches and become well-acquainted with the privacy settings on both Facebook and Twitter before using these networks freely.
Considering what I have learned through my own experiences with technology, in addition to the ways I have been encouraged and required to utilize tools such as cloud computing, YouTube, RSS feeds, blogging, and social media networks for the sake of class assignments over the duration of this semester, and finally what I have pinpointed in filling out the Technology Sandbox worksheet, my understanding of technology and how it can be applied to the library has changed and become more clearly defined. If I were given complete freedom, as a librarian, I would plug my library into social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (after carefully reviewing and applying the privacy settings). I would follow librarians who are further advanced in the technological world of libraries to gain insight and ideas on the best ways to utilize what is currently available. I would create online tutorials through Camtasia and Youtube and offer classes in the library to help students or patrons understand the mystical intricacies of technology and how to access information through them.
23 Things UK. (2013). WordPress.com. Retrieved from http://23thingsuk.wordpress.com