Library Social Media Help

It seems that many public libraries do not effectively build a strong and consistent brand for themselves via the online forum. Perhaps this is due to difficulties in accepting the new Web 2.0 environment, in addition to monetary or red tape constraints in relation to utilizing the social media. Last semester, I interviewed one of the librarians at my local branch, and asked her what she thought about all the new online technology available. She responded that she was very excited at the potential it held for libraries, and therefore created a facebook page for her particular branch. However, she noted, the main Los Angeles Public Library administration requested her site to be shut down. The reason, they explained, was because they wished to put up a general LAPL facebook page which would encompass all branches within the LAPL system. My librarian seemed disappointed at this turn of events, and I agree with her completely. Part of building a strong brand is allowing for transparency through social media interaction. When the main offices of the LAPL system decreed that individualized sites and pages be denied to their branches, they were essentially cutting off the possibility of this social media interaction. Why would I want to interact with every single of the seventy libraries in the LAPL system; this would be simply overwhelming. I would like to ‘speak’ with the librarians and patrons at my local branch. LAPL created an impersonal environment, whereas my librarian was simply endeavoring to manage her library’s brand in a more personal and smart way. Recently, I checked the LAPL facebook page. Poor excuse of a page. It is barely set up, looks uninteresting, and has few visitors.

However, on a positive note, the Los Angeles Public Library system did something recently that does keep in step with the times. They changed their Online Public Access Catalog from an outdated and slow system, to an user-friendly and comprehensive interface with tagging and reviewing possibilities. Although, based on the readings for this week, it seems that a broad approach is necessary to be successful with social media, and only changing the OPAC will not make for complete success. There should be a librarian in every library that is in charge of the social network and branding aspect. She or he should be posting pieces on a blog, a twitter account, and responding to patrons ideas, complaints and concerns. This would be absolutely terrific for the library system! The patrons would be more involved personally, and receive more high quality information – one main goal of a librarian. To me, it seems a real shame that my library system still has a lot of catching up to do, especially in light of the potential that Web 2.0 offers.