Facebook Page

Having a Facebook page is considered a pillar of the social networking war chest, with over 500 million members worldwide.  Seattle Public Library has a substantial membership of over 8,700 people on Facebook.  In line with what many Facebook pages for libraries do across the world, and particularly in English-speaking countries, the library updates patrons and general interest supporters of upcoming events, podcasts, new and continuing services the library offers, and many other inviting hooks to get people interested.

Some of the recent status postings from the library include:

  • “How do you love your music: MP3, CD or vinyl?”

  • “Need some coffee-break length entertainment? Listen in as four librarians dish about Jonathan Franzen’s new novel “Freedom.” It’s the Franzen Fest edition of our BiblioCafe podcast …”

  • “Looking for a place to find new books, DVDs and music? Try the New Titles section in the catalog (it even has items that are ‘on order’).”

  • “Our new catalog is up and running! What do you think?”

The Facebook offers an excellent free marketing tool for the library and, once membership has grown on the site, instant feedback, especially for anything tech-related, as the most tech-oriented patrons who need those services will often be monitoring the site.

Notice that there are open-ended questions not related to commerce or with any particular motive stated.  This is a luxury that traditional advertising and marketing does not allow room for, but which is immensely appreciated by members of the page and the larger community.  A webmaster, or several, supervises the page, and when people do comment, they are able to field these questions in a way that seems personalized.  Further, it plays out in the public arena, giving the all-important image of transparency.  Any commenter that goes across the line of civility can prompted be permanently removed from the page.

In our LIBR503 course in Vancouver, we discussed that libraries often have a no sleeping policy in their facilities in order to avoid unwanted conflicts between the homeless population/general loitering and other patrons.  We were fortunate to have someone who did formerly work for the Seattle Public Library system, and were informed that this policy was very clearly outlined, and that the library has a very good training system for handling these situations.  In the Facebook page, one of the patrons mentioned this and a friendly exchange went on between the webmaster and a patron.  The patron posted:

“My dream is to one day be kindly asked to leave this library, after falling asleep, and well yes… I miss the area.. San diego has Nothing on the best town in the country,”

and the library staffer who runs the page responded:

“On a rainy day, in the warm library, we can’t blame anyone for nodding off! More often than not we just advise people to get out of their chairs and walk around a bit to get their heads cleared.”

What a fantastic opportunity engage with the community in a way that blurs the lines between patron and staff in a productive way.

Comments gathered from The Seattle Public Library on Facebook.


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