Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Social Networks, part 3 (Project Play assignment)

This week's assignment from Project Play:

1. Visit any 3 (suggested) library MySpace pages.
2. Note the ways libraries are “surfacing” library services.
3. Reflect on the place of libraries in social networking.
4. Post your thoughts about why or why not you would want to create a MySpace page for your library.

If your library already has a MySpace or Facebook page, also consider using your blog to share any tips & advice you might have...

OK, I looked at MySpace pages for Denver (teen page with rap music to annoy old people away), Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (garishly colored with no musc teen page), Arapahoe (funky teen page, with Paramores' "Crushcrushcrush", kinda nice emo -- this old guy liked it, so they're doing something wrong). By golly, all the ones I looked at are teen pages; or almost all: Oshkosh appears age-neutral. Facebook is more staid.

But beyond appearances, all three are "surfacing" library services. Delivering and linking to them, even. Typical offerings include library event info, teen blogs, reader's advisory, popular media info and homework resources. Mostly, this appears to be good marketing -- you build your network by establishing a point. of presence where your users are. You link from your website to your MySpace page and vice versa.

As to whether my library had a MySpace page, I'm pretty neutral. If your YA staff and Teen Board wanted to do it, fine. If they don't want to, fine. It doesn't appeal to me that much. And anything you create has to be maintained, or the value can degrade quickly.

I do have a Facebook page and created one for our library, just to try it out. I mainly created my page to stay in touch with the next younger generation of family. But I quickly found I had a lot of real friends on Facebook and a number of professional colleagues. It's a fun way to stay in touch. That being said, I have not yet found it real productive: there seems to be a lot of people asking you to play games and take quizzes. It seems like a lot of applications are marketing themselves virally on Facebook.

But there are opportunities for book & movie reviews and discussions. There are network and organization pages worth checking out. I think the potential is there. I'm networking not only with a long-lost cousin, but with my library school alumni group.

But the waste potential is there too, and the pretension. Katie Scullion notes:
... the amount of effort that goes into updating and these profiles will most likely go unnoticed after a few months ... fads move from site to site as one becomes more annoying/ad-dense than the other. ... social networking maniacs will spend much of their time compulsively checking other people's profiles, prowling through picture galleries, and updating their own. It seems more of a vanity than a communication tool ...
She makes some good points, and links to a hilarious video from Colbert, providing a good perspective.

On the other hand, the "fun extra" assignment this week encourages us to try the Simpsomaker, but I prefer Simpsonize me.

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