Survey reveals attitudes towards social media in European libraries

A survey on the use of social media in over 1200 libraries from across Europe reveals that 62% of respondents have 'positive' or 'very positive' views on social media

Speaking in the European Librarian Theatre at Online Information 2010, Ebsco's Jakob Harnesk described the project which canvassed opinion from 1241 Ebsco customers, to determine their views of how social media fits within the library context.

15% of respondents reported a very positive perception of social media, while 47% of respondents said that they had a positive perception.

78% of respondents said that their goals for creating social media applications were to maximise library exposure, while 59% were keen to use it to modernise their library image. 53% wanted to promote specific content offers.

The top social media applications used were social networking such as Facebook (63% of respondents), blogging (55%), widgets such as RSS (46%) and microblogging (also 46%).

Respondents did identify difficulties with using social media, with 41% of respondents saying that social media takes too much time to maintain and 28% saying there were too may tools to learn. Other barriers included restrictive internal policies, info security and confidentiality. However there were success stories for example one respondent noted that it took less than 15 minutes after the release of a ‘new books' blog for a customer to ask for a book she had spotted there.

Factors for success included having a good understanding of user needs and their questions (cited by 60% of respondents ), while 59% said that having enough human resources and time to develop and maintain the services was critical. Other important success factors were using creative ways to keep user interest high, and the need for user involvement and regular participation.