Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Social Networks for Digital Natives

Generally, there are two reactions to Facebook (and the ilk): What an opportunity! and What a waste of time!

Whatever your view, Facebook is an environment which allows libraries to connect to users (particularly 16-35 year old, middle class users...) and some libraries have made great use of the resource (example, example, example).

But, you'll find that it's mostly Higher Education (and some Further Education)-type libraries that are really engaging with Facebook. Why? Because lots of organisations have banned access - especially council authorities hosting public libraries.

Here's an interesting post on why Social Networking sites shouldn't be blocked [via Library Stuff]. It's a fair point, those of us who are 'heavy' web users don't find it easy to differentiate between 'work' and 'play' (and that swings both ways!). Those social networks are in both arenas and the tools are used in both ways. Ironically, the blurring of work and play which is often blamed for wasting time is probably going to be as essential as email over the coming years.

IT and personnel departments need to think carefully about exactly what they are preventing access to when they block these kind of sites (even if it's for 'ideological' reasons). Closing the door on opportunities by using technology to try and replace sensible and pragmatic management is never a good long term strategy and will only result in librarians losing out on skills, and patrons losing out on services.

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