Since some time in July I have been wrangling with the multiple dimensions of social media as they impact on the spaces of information professionals. I chose that word deliberately, because doing social media so it matters is at the heart of the what it means to be a socially networked information professional. It’s only by becoming active in social media spaces that you can really hope to be able to determine the best social networking strategies for your library services.
You cannot read and write about social networking in order to learn social media strategy without engaging in the full dimensions of it. It is only through engagement that practice turns theory into understanding.
I always felt that had to be the case, but my recent teaching in INF206 Social Networking for Information Professionals has brought that message home to me loud and clear.
I have had the outstanding opportunity to engage with a group of information professionals scattered across Australia who are working in as diverse a range of libraries as you could ask. The services their institutions provide are, in some cases, second to none, and I was delighted to see that during the course of our study program some of the students were able to step up to join committees formulating and/or delivering social networked services.
How good is that!
What is unquestionably the case for anyone wishing to delve into the spaces of social media is that engagement is participation! How else can you determine what, how, when, or why you might adopt a particular tool or strategy for your organisation?
There is no single “right” social media service that will fit every library. Comparing social media sites is part of the research, as is determining what kind of social media your library is interested in. Given that social media sites come and go, side-by-side comparison charts will not give you all the answers. Interaction and conversation with others active in social media will be an essential part of your litmus test while you keep your library’s objectives in mind.
My main message is that a participatory culture is unavoidably participatory! I have discoved that students in a program about social networking, who do not actively embrace experimenting and exploring, inevitably have gaps and weaknesses in applying social networking to the provision of library services. But by jumping in and giving it a go, fluency begins to emerge, and the transformation is quite exilerating! Library 2.0 is vibrant, viral, communicates, promotes, and engages with it’s ‘people’.
It’s like learning a new language and going on a trip to a new country – you can get by with a tourist translation or develop fluency that allows you to become immersed and enjoy every aspect of the new cultural experience.
I know which option I prefer!