Social Networking for Information Professionals

Category Archives: OLJ

Reflecting back on my development as a social networker in this subject took me back to the beginning of the tasks involved in setting up this OLJ.  When describing what I expected to learn from the subject, I wanted to be able to use social networking to my advantage for private, work and study use.  I also wanted to get over the fear of putting my thoughts and contributions “out there” and perhaps teach any knowledge gained to my family and colleagues.

Using a Facebook Group, instead of the forum space on Interact, as our interactive learning space for this subject allowed participation from invited group members only. Facebook is now used by schools as an Information provider page and in a classroom setting.  A Wikipedia article on the subject of Web 2.0 in education informed us that “students, in a Web 2.0 classroom, are expected to collaborate with their peers”. I think the Facebook Group did this; sharing ideas, asking for advice, having discussions and a bit of fun as well.  It was more interesting following the Facebook page than it would have been using the forum (which is more like email) with the use of photos, videos and links. It also showed participants’ personalities.

I enjoyed the blogging aspect of this subject.  I must admit it is a lot more fun to be assessed on blog posts rather than formal assignments, as well as being more colourful.  I found posting on the blog to be just like public speaking – very nervous at first but as you do it more and more it becomes that bit easier.  I am now more into reading blogs and find them especially useful for research purposes within libraries.  Farkas’s presentation on Building Academic Library 2.0 really connected with me and I am now a regularly reader of her blog.  This presentation brought together the use and uses of Web 2.0 tools and social media in libraries and many must be interested as the YouTube video has had 26,038 visits to date.

The introduction to this subject informed that “we have been involved in social networking and community building processes and practices for centuries”.  I was pleasantly surprised to get a reply to one of my posts from a student in Arkansas.  Suddenly I was an author with an international readership, and I realised how immediate social media could be.  The reply came from outside of the group I was enrolled in and I suspect that the person used the tag of RSS to find my blog, highlighting the importance of using Tags.

In 2011 I completed the “How 2 with Web 2.0”, a professional development session run by the School Libraries Association of Victoria (SLAV).  Re-exploring social media tools in this subject has been more useful as it has shown me many ways to use these tools in a library setting.  The course was only an introduction into the tools but didn’t go as far a developing ways to use them in your workplace.

In my About section on this blog I commented that “Between students and my own kids I feel like I have been playing chasey keeping up with Social Networking”.  I think that, given rate at which new technologies are being implemented, I will continue to play chasey.  No sooner had I begun to come to grips with RSS, installed a client and begun to subscribe, (OLJ post 20/1/13), one of my feeds announced that Google (2013) is retiring its “Reader” product.  The following day, Stephen Abram (2013) posted an article on his blog (14 March) explaining what alternatives are available.  I read it carefully, started assessing my options and all of a sudden Pheed appears – a new tool to tackle.  This is also the problem that libraries face as the range of tools increases. While people and organisations are moving to Twitter, and a number of public libraries are using it (Central Highlands, Yarra Plenty, State Library of Victoria), the challenge for libraries will be it make strategically smart decisions about what platforms to adopt.

I have learnt quite a bit in this subject but know there is so much more to learn and blog and tweet and Pheed and Slideshare and Summly and Vine and Flayvr and Chirp and … will I need to Weibo?


Abram, Stephen. (2013, March 14). Google reader retires July 1st: Options for when Google sucks. Stephen’s Lighthouse. Retrieved from

Google (2013, March 13). A second spring of cleaning. Google Official Blog. Retrieved from

Web 2.0. (n.d.). Web 2.0 in education. Retrieved from Wikipedia:


The arrival of websites such as MySpace and Facebook has enabled users to have the “one-to-one and one-to-many discourse in a public setting” that Qualman (2011, p. xiii) argues is the hallmark of social networking.  This post examines social networking through my experiences completing three prior blog posts – RSS, A-Z of Social Networking for Libraries and Issues related to Online Identity, Privacy and/or Trust.

Boyd and Ellison (2007) set out the underpinning feature of social networking technologies, the opportunity for users to “articulate and make visible their social networks”.  Building on this, social networking sites use the interactivity of Web 2.0 to allow users to exchange content in a one-to-many fashion.

How social networking sites make this possible varies from platform to platform.  RSS (a technology I examined on the OLJ task “RSS”) feeds live information to subscribers as it becomes available, usually by having the RSS reader installed.  This allows patrons to have the information that is needed without the necessity to visit a library or wait for a snail mail newsletter.  While RSS is a common component of other tools, like Twitter and Facebook, RSS lacks a key feature of many social networking tools – the ability for the recipient to engage in a discussion with the content creator.  RSS is a one-to-many broadcasting tool, but, unlike Facebook, there is no many-to-one backchannel.

Social networking technologies offer the opportunity for readers to respond instantly and this is a key feature of sites such as Blogger & WordPress.  Sites such as these offer libraries the opportunity to build their “2.0 profile” by engaging readers (and not just borrowers) in a conversation.  Victoria’s Yarra Plenty Regional Library (YPRL) operates a collection of a blogs dedicated to various topics, including those for a reading club and genealogy.

YPRL’s online presence fulfils many of the criteria set out in Brown’s “A to Z of Networking for Libraries”, a blog post I considered in an OLJ activity.   Spreading the load of creating content between a large number of contributors (each of whom is credited in the blog sidebar), keeps the content fresh without overloading individual staff, addressing Brown’s “A for Active”, “C for Content”, “H for Help” and “I for Interesting”.  “Y for Youth” is, perhaps, a weakness with YPRL’s site.  While it offers announcements of in-branch activities for children, there is nothing I could find that aims to engage young patrons in an online experience.

YPRL’s catalogue allows patrons to comment on a book, add a review or give a star-rating.  This shifts the relationship between the library and its patrons, acknowledging that reviewing isn’t just the preserve of “book professionals”.  Feeds from the YPRL site to Facebook (which appears to be taking over as YPRL’s primary online channel) and Twitter allow followers to keep up-to-date without coming back to the website.

The library staff who post on YPRL’s blogs use names that reflect their own personalities (or the personality they wish to project).  “ChristineCEO” is, obviously, the Chief Executive Officer – but who are ElGuapoLives, femlib and HEYJAAAAAAACKED?  This is a departure from the normal business practice of using names that identify a person or role.  It has the benefit of allowing staff to create an online identity while providing anonymity – issues I considered in the OLJ task “Online Identity, Privacy and/or Trust.

YPRL’s approach addresses Harris’s (2010) concern about the appropriateness of friending the librarian rather than the library – while staff can use a persona on the blog site (where there is no option to follow or friend an individual poster) , YPRL’s Facebook presence uses a single, corporate persona.

The OLJ tasks (and the process of posting my responses) provided an opportunity to dip into a number of social media tools and sample the features they offer.  One of the challenges will be keeping abreast of new platforms such as Pinterest which is emerging as a popular place for information professionals (like Julie Hildebrand) to aggregate resources.  Imagine if your local library introduced Meet and Seat (Ross, 2012) – you could reserve a book, a place to read it and choose who you’d like to sit next too!


Boyd, D. & Ellison, N. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated      Communication 13(1), article 11. Retrieved from

Brown, A. (2010, January 22). A to Z of social networking for libraries [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Harris, C. (2010). Friend me?: School policy may address friending students online. School Library Journal, 1 April. Retrieved from

Qualman, E. (2011). Socialnomics : how social media transforms the way we live and do business. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Ross, T. (2012, March 6). Airlines use Facebook to find seatmates. the ticker. Retrieved from

What is important in terms of how we present and manage [individuals & organisations] identities online?

Mallan & Giardina (2009) highlight the fact that a Wikidentity (their term for an online persona) is a constructed representation of the user.  This seems to be true for both organisations and individuals as both show themselves in a way they would like to be perceived.  Even when an organisation tries to accurately represent itself the social networking site’s internal logic constrains how that representation is structured.  Features like comments on a Facebook wall or tagging of photographs (Raynes-Goldie, 2010) require regular management to ensure that the organisation’s identity is not subverted by other posters.

Deleting other poster’s contributions is a balancing act because comments and tags are positively valued as a mark of social engagement according to Mallan & Giardina (2009).  Although individuals in their study seemed prepared to tolerate negative comments, an organisation may be less able to allow critical comments to remain on its wall, particularly if they contribute to what they call a “communally negotiated truth”.

What can we share and what should we retain as private to the online world?

None of the readings sought to be definitive on what we should, or should not share, but noted the permanence of shared information.  Social networking sites are designed to encourage sharing and, according to Raynes-Goldie’s (2010) research subjects, the default settings for user accounts is to make information public.

In an environment where information is the currency, what to share becomes a cost-benefit analysis in which “privacy pragmatists” (Raynes-Goldie, 2010) trade some privacy for the perceived benefits of social engagement and participation.

Clearly, we can share anything – whether we should do so is a different question.  Sharing creates reputational risks (in the real and virtual worlds) for an organisation and Harris (2010) suggests that, to avoid online relationships that create risks to the librarian and the library, the library establishes its own its online identity. Harris assumes that, for a student, “fanning” the library is a satisfactory alternative to “friending” the librarian – an assumption that requires some testing.


Harris, C. (2010). Friend me?: School policy may address friending students online. School Library Journal, 1 April. Retrieved from

Mallan, K. & Giardina, N. (2009). Wikidentities: Young people collaborating on virtual identities in social network sites. First Monday, 14(16), 1 June. Retrieved from

Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook. First Monday, 15(1), 4 January. Retrieved from


Meredith Farkas, keynote speaker at a symposium sponsored by Librarians Association of the University of California, spoke about Building Academic Library 2.0.  Although focused at Academic Libraries the advice given can be used by other libraries.  Choosing just 5 was difficult as there were so many great tips.

Create Partnerships

Farkas spoke about creating partnerships with other libraries and how important it is to create partnerships within your own organisation.  She continues to promote library/faculty partnerships in her blog.

M Farkas (2012, November 29). The entrepreneurial library [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

 Know your users

Farkas, referring to work done at the University of Rochester, described an example of “knowing your users” in which staff discovered that students asked parents for help with assignments.  This led to arranging an orientation breakfast for parents to showcase what the library can offer.  A key message was the importance of not just knowing what patrons value in existing services, but what new services would be beneficial.  She described this as doing more than “doing a survey to ask what patrons value about your stuff – you need to ask what is of importance to them”.

Use 2.0 tools to highlight your c collection

Using flickr to showcase special collection material and RSS to push content out to users offers libraries an opportunity to market their service.  It is not enough, however, to simply use these 2.0 tools.  Libraries need a marketing strategy to communicate to patrons that the tools are in use, and help them get the most from 2.0 services.

 Build a learning culture

To reach a 2.0 environment in your organisation you need to build a learning culture with all staff, not just the professionals in your department.  While not all staff will require 2.0 tools as part of their work, an organisation-wide approach to promoting a learning culture can provide the foundation for building a 2.0 environment in those work teams where information technologies are part of core business.

Capitalize on your network

Social networking has made it easier to have a broader network base.  Prior to tools such as MySpace and Facebook opportunities to network came predominantly through conferences.  Farkas shared that for her Facebook was a Rolodex.  I presume this enables her to have her contacts available anytime anywhere 24/7.

I am employed in a large school library which has a webpage with links to a blog for a book club. The students are unaware of the blog and this could be rectified using 5 pieces of advice from;

A Brown. (2010, January 22). A to Z of social networking for libraries [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

 Active – The book club blog has not had any entries for six months. If left inactive, there is no purpose for the blog to exist. For the blog to work the library needs to be serious about posting on a regular basis.

Content – Talking to students and finding out what interests them – book reviews, new releases – offers a source of content. The key question is “What is the content students want to see on the blog?”  Listening to students at a meeting and transcribing those thoughts and comments to the blog provides valuable content that will be read and appreciated.

Help – Team effort is imperative for the library blog. Help for the blog can come from not only library staff but also teachers and students who have an interest in books.  The book club is a community of learners and, as Berger & Trexler (2010, p. 105) note, engaging students in blogging can further their involvement. Teachers can help promote the blog for access to students who are not in book club, but still would like to know what the library has to offer.  Help in marketing the blog is also imperative for it to work.

Interesting – “If you want the blog to work the content better be interesting”.  I think this advice the most important.  If the blog is “boring” to the students it will not work.  Hargadon (as cited in Brooks-Young, 2010, p. 53) backs this piece of advice – “The online discussion needs to be interesting and to the point.”

Youth – Involving the students in contributing posts for the blog has the advantage of getting content for the blog but can also be beneficial in helping “tweens and teens learn social skills and practice improving interpersonal relationships” (Brooks-Young, 2010, p. 54)

Berger, P. & Trexler, S. (2010). Choosing web 2.0 tools for learning and teaching in a digital world. California: Libraries Unlimited.

Brooks-Young, S. (2010). Teaching with the tools kids really use. California: Corwin.

Introduction into Second Life

Participating in the Second Life Training Session 1 certainly was a great introduction into the world that CSU’s SIS Learning Centre has created. The tour highlighted the many tools Second Life provides to ‘get around’.  Having Carol as an escort gave more insight into what can be done on Second Life rather than wandering around on your own.  It was fun seeing the Avatars that the others on the tour had chosen for themselves – we ended up with three identical avatars and they were dubbed ‘the triplets’.  Controlling your avatar can be little hard. The Rock Chick (me) got lost and it took a while to find the group again but with practice I’m sure I’ll be strutting around (Rock Chick style) in no time.

Obtaining the RSS Feeder Reader tool was simple and once installed on my toolbar, easy to obtain any RSS feeds I wished to subscribe to.

My first example of RSS in action was the National Archives of Australia  The homepage offered the RSS feed button which made it relatively easy to obtain the feed.  I was fed Media releases, information on Cabinet records released, exhibit details, event announcements.  This type of feed greatly enhances the National Archive’s ability to meet the information needs of its users.  The user does not have to go into the NAA’s website search engine constantly to check on the information they required, the information is pushed to them by the tool.

The second example was Trove  Trove offers a “themed” feed which allows a user to only receive feeds that meet a keyword criterion.  This appears at the bottom of the search results page, where the reader is invited to ‘subscribe to this webfeed’ (another word for RSS).  Trove’s use of filtered RSS demonstrates one of its advantages – unlike Twitter, which simply pushes out anything the author Tweets, Trove’s RSS feed allows the subscriber to only receive headlines that meet a set of specific search criteria.  This makes Trove’s use of RSS somewhat friendlier than that of the National Archive as the theme and filter functions cut down on the number of unwanted feed items.