The use of social media in the library

Taylor and Francis White Paper explores current practices and future opportunities for social media in libraries.

Research was conducted with focus groups of librarians in India, the UK and the US and followed up with desk research, a Twitter party and in-depth phone interviews.   The White Paper discovered that libraries are using social media to deliver a blend of news, promotion, customer service, provision of educational tools and relationship building.

Different tools are used for specific purposes:

  • Twitter – library news; customer service; connecting with researchers; connecting with other libraries
  • Facebook – more social, and less formal than Twitter; engaging with students
  • Pinterest – promote library collections; promote books; arena for students/academics to pin reviewed reading; online repositories for students working collaboratively

Key findings

  • Over 70% of libraries are using social media tools
  • 60% have had at least one social media account for three years or longer
  • 30% of librarians are posting at least daily
  • Facebook,  Twitter and blogs are the most popular channels
  • Particular growth in visual channels such as YouTube, Pinterest and Snapchat
  • Only about a third of libraries had a social media policy
  • 40% have no plans to introduce one
  • 75% of libraries say their social media activity is 'ad hoc'

Measuring effectiveness

The research found that tracking of social media activity varies widely and measurement of impact is ad hoc at best.

  • 44% of respondents use Hootsuite; 23% use Tweetdeck; 12% use Feedly
  • 27% use Google analytics; 25% use Facebook statistics; 15% use surveys; 15% track numbers of followers and 5% use Twitter statistics

The future of social media in libraries

  • Using social media to improve outreach and create community
  • To provide alternative ‘spaces’ for users who don’t use the physical space
  • Assisting with complex information
  • Integrating discovery channels with social media

The White Paper launch event was tweeted at #tfsocialmedia and the white paper is available here.

Thanks to Alison McNab.