UW-Stevens Point Library

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is a state university with about 9500 students. The library has a blog and a Facebook page (and a Flickr account, but I won’t go into that here).

The library home page has links to Facebook, Flickr, and its RSS feed. The RSS feed is for the library blog, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to go directly to the blog from the library home page. The icons for each are big and stand out against the light purple background, so users shouldn’t overlook them.

One of the more interesting features of the library blog is the book of the week. Each book has a picture, the publisher’s description, and the library call number. Some posts also include links to reviews. Recent books are all nonfiction, but they range from The Atlas of Global Inequalities to Balzac’s Omelette. Using publishers’ descriptions makes it easier to summarize books the person posting may not have read, or only skimmed, but it is less personal than writing original summaries. Plus, it makes it unclear how books of the week are chosen. None of this is terribly important, though – there are summaries of cool books you can get from the UW-Stevens Point library, which is great. It’s also nice that they include books from the reference section like The Atlas of Global Inequalities instead of focusing on leisure materials, as some other libraries do.

In addition to the books of the week, there are posts about other library news. There are bios for new librarians, and details for a survey about the library website. The blog updates at least once a week (as books of the week would suggest). The blog is fairly easy to find, and the posts are straightforward, but it’s not really an interactive space; most blog posts don’t have comments.

The Facebook page is a little more social. 182 people have liked this page. Most posts are either from the page administrator or someone from the UWSP Library Assistant Managers group. An advantage of this group is that it lets multiple people post while still identifying them as part of the library. Unfortunately, whoever is posting from the group is identified as “UWSP Library Assistant Managers”, so you can’t really get a sense of individuals.

UWSP Library Facebook page

Screenshot from the UWSP Library Facebook page.

Posts from the page administrator include links to the book of the week blog posts, links to library-related news articles (about UW-Stevens Point or libraries more generally), and questions. For Halloween they posted a picture of jack-o-lanterns along with the question “What’s your favorite scary movie?” (somehow, this doesn’t seem quite as intimidating as when GhostFace asks the same question). Some posts are liked or have a few comments, but most are from the same few people/organizations.

At the moment the UWSP Library Assistant Managers are posting pictures and telling people to come to the library if they know where they’re from. Presumably the pictures are of places on campus, and I’m guessing that there’s some sort of contest, but that’s not entirely clear. A post to explain what’s going on might help out people who aren’t already familiar with the contest, and put the really cool pictures into context.

You can also find the library’s contact information and hours on the Facebook page, along with their mission statement and a link to the blog. It’s always good to see links from one social media tool to another!

More questions and contests like the current one could encourage more people to use and interact with the library Facebook page. If I were at UW-Stevens Point, I might like the Facebook page as a convenient way of seeing library news. That shark picture would definitely help. Since there are links to all the blog posts on Facebook, there’s not much reason to follow the blog if you’re using the Facebook page. That’s not a bad thing – whether people are accessing a blog from Facebook links or an RSS feed doesn’t alter the content.


UW-Stout Library

The University of Wisconsin-Stout is a state university with just over 9000 students. The library has a blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account.

The library page on the UW-Stout website has links to all of their social media. Unfortunately, UW-Stout also has links to all of the university’s social media quite near to the library’s social media icons. I definitely on the university icons first, but realized my mistake. The library icons are clearly identified as library-related, and presumably if I were more familiar with the website (which, the library announced on all its social media, changed this very weekend) I’d know the university icons are always on the bottom bar. The setup’s not ideal, but it’s okay. Even though I clicked on the wrong icon, I saw both sets of icons right away – hurray for obvious links to social media! After all, people won’t use your social media if they don’t know it exists.

UW-Stout library page

Screenshot of the UW-Stout library home page.

I really like the library blog. Every week a Library Video of the Week and Browsing Area Book of the Week are posted. There’s a brief description of each book or video, a picture, and the library call number. The descriptions are both clear and interesting, and each post is clearly tagged. It’s a really great feature and lets students know about the fun stuff they can find at their academic library.

In addition to the book and video posts, the blog posts about some library and campus events. There are posts about the new website, banned books week, a thesis workshop and checking out textbooks. This practical information is nice, but the majority of the posts are for books and videos, so anyone who checks the blog regularly presumably does so for those.

The blog also has a link to the Facebook page and the last few posts appear. It’s great that you can go to the Facebook page from the blog; it would be even better if there was also a link to the Twitter feed.

The library Facebook page links to each blog post, but it also has many other posts. There are some Facebook-specific posts, which mostly involve photos or links to other local organizations’ posts, but the majority of the posts are tweets or links to the blog. It covers practical library-related information that students need to know, like special hours, as well as fun information. There are links to all kinds of technology news articles, links to free classical music downloads, and of course those videos and books of the week. You can also find the library hours, website, and contact information from the Facebook page. It’s attractive, with all those images and links the Librarian in Black would recommend, and updates several times a week. The page has been liked by 177 people.

The Twitter feed contains links to blog posts and links to news articles, those classical music downloads, and so forth. They’re making announcements, not having a conversation, but that’s a valid way to use Twitter. The library is following 177 Twitter users and is followed by 52.

If I were a student at UW-Stout (or using the library in some other capacity), I’d like their Facebook page. I already use Facebook, so I wouldn’t have to go anywhere outside my usual routine, plus the Facebook page brings together the blog posts and tweets, so it has everything all in one place. It would let me know if anything important was going on at the library, plus I could see all kinds of interesting articles. Overall, the library uses social media mostly to promote the library’s leisure collections and provide links to all sorts of technology and information news. That’s a pretty valid function. Their posts are all easy to follow even for people new to the various pages. If the library started asking more questions, they might get more people interacting with their social media, which would be the next step up. An explicit invitation for users to share their thoughts on an article, or a book or video of the week, could be all they need.

University of Aberdeen Library

The University of Aberdeen’s University Library uses quite a few social media. There are links on the bottom right corner of the library’s home page (which are very easy to see against the light grey background). I’ll be focusing on their use of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, but they also have Flickr and YouTube accounts. Pretty impressive!

The University Library has created a Facebook profile. It has a really awesome profile picture that appears to be a book sculpture of a computer. It looks like they just started this in September 2011.There haven’t been a whole lot of posts so far. They’ve announced a new way to return books, and shared a link about an exhibition at a campus museum. Only 12 people are friends with them so far, and no one’s commented on any of their posts. Still, their page looks good, and they’re interacting with other campus entities. It’s a good start. Besides, that profile picture would make up for a lot. Hopefully they’ll continue posting – maybe posting more, since the University Library certainly has programs and exciting news they could be sharing. It’s definitely a solid start.

University Library Facebook

Screenshot from Biblio Teque facebook profile.

There’s also a more established Facebook presence, the Library, Special Collections and Museums (University of Aberdeen) group. It’s so much more established and active that I’m not sure why the Facebook icon at the bottom of the home page doesn’t lead to that. I only found the group through one of the rotating images on the library’s home page (thanks to Daniel O’Connor’s blog for helping me figure out what those are called!). It doesn’t have that awesome profile picture, but I really like the group. People seem to be using their actual Facebook accounts, both library staff and users. Staff make announcements, but users also ask questions. Some of those questions are things like ‘why do the desk lights keep going out’ but it’s nice that they have a place to ask those questions where librarians can actually respond. It’s an open group, so anyone can ask to join. It’s the most active, social library Facebook space I’ve seen yet. If I were at the University of Aberdeen, I would definitely join this group.

The fact that the group is a group might be part of the reason it’s working so well. It seems less like the library is just making announcements and more like this is a place you can have an actual conversation. Most of the user-started conversations are students complaining about various things that aren’t working well, whether that’s lights going out or silent study rooms that are too loud when lots of people are typing. Librarians actually get to know what people think this way – often a couple of students will comment on a post before a librarian does – and can figure out what they need to change. Librarians said they hadn’t known about either the desk lights going out or the less-than-silent silent study rooms, and said what they’d do to fix the problem. It’s really encouraging that they respond to all these complaints. Ryan Deschamps of The Other Librarian said that libraries on Facebook should ask people questions and figure out what they like. I think figuring out what people don’t like is pretty important too.

One possible drawback of the group is that it could be tricky to identify librarians. On the other hand, it’s not that hard to figure out. If someone’s making announcements, start their response to a comment with “Hi _____”, or generally seem to know what’s going on, they’re probably librarians. Users might have to read a few posts to figure that out, though. It’s definitely something to keep in mind for libraries making the Facebook jump.

I’m so impressed by this Facebook group that it’s especially disappointing the main Facebook link from the library home page doesn’t go to it. I hope the University Library will think about changing that. A clear link from the Facebook profile to the group would be nice too.

While the University Library is using Facebook in a social way, they’re using Twitter mostly for announcements. There’s about one tweet a week, but it varies with what’s going on. A lot of these tweets are about various online services going down. Some are about changing hours at the physical libraries. The tweets are pretty intuitive, and they start with words like “MAINTENANCE”, “REMINDER”, and “INFO” so you can see at a glance what category a tweet fits into. They have 612 followers, so clearly some people think this is worth keeping track of. I’m curious as to why they don’t announce programming via Twitter. It’s great that they let people know what’s not working (and let them know the librarians realize it’s not working), but maybe they could tell them about other things too.

Finally, the University Library has a blog. This also announces when online services goes down, giving more information than tweets allow for. Plus it talks about positive stuff! The last two articles are about a new way to download library materials and an exhibit at a campus museum. I really liked the museum post because it wasn’t just an advertisement. It sounds very conversational, the writer clearly had opinions about the exhibit, and it includes the line, “The King’s museum is an amuse-bouche for the mind.” Where other library blogs tend to come across like newsletters, this one seems like a blog. Personally, I appreciate that. There aren’t comments for most posts, but it’s still interesting to read. If I were at the University of Aberdeen, I’d visit the blog from time to time. You don’t need any experience with the blog for it to make sense, either.

The University Library is doing a great job with their social media. I was particularly impressed by the blog and the Facebook group. I don’t want to discourage testing out new ways of using social media, but I almost wonder why they started the Facebook profile when they had the group. If their Facebook link went to the active group instead of the profile, they’d be pretty much set. Actually engaging people and seeming personable can be tricky, but they’ve managed it.

McIntyre Library

McIntyre Library serves the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC). With just over 11,000 students UWEC is a medium-sized state university. The library has a blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter feed. At the moment, all three are pretty active. Back in 2010, McIntyre librarians wrote Quick and Dirty Library Promotions That Really Work – they’re definitely committed to promoting the library through social media!

The blog title and titles of the three most recent posts appear on the library home page. Blog posts are mostly about services and programming. In November, there were two posts about physical changes to the library, two posts about programs, and one announcement that the library is hiring. None of these posts have any comments.

A link to the  Facebook page also appears on the library home page. It has more concise versions of some of the blog posts along with many additional ones. Recently they’ve shared pictures and information from the campus archive, student worker interviews, and many events postings including  general campus-wide announcements. There’s not a huge amount of interaction with the page – most posts don’t have comments – but some of the posts have been shared by other users, and over 400 people have liked the page. The McIntyre Library page has also liked other campus pages.  In his article on Twitter, Phil Bradley said it was important to follow other people, not just have followers. I think that also applies to Facebook – it shows goodwill to interact with related pages, not just expect other people to interact with your page. Especially as a library, you don’t want to be too intrusive, but liking other campus pages seems nice.

The library staff has also recently hit on something students are interested in. They’ve posted pictures and brief descriptions of how different campus looked fifty years ago versus today. The campus is on both sides of a river, and all students can commiserate about crossing the bridge in the winter. McIntyre Library recently shared on their Facebook page that the bridge was originally meant to be covered and heated. This has been one of their more popular posts, with 11 likes and 5 shares 16 hours after posting.

In addition to the Facebook page, the librarians have created a Facebook account for the library mascot, Reference Rex. The library Facebook page has a link to this profile in their About section – hurray for making it easy to find social media! At one point UWEC’s Career Services also had a Facebook account for their mascot, but it doesn’t seem to be up anymore. Reference Rex’s wall has versions of lots of the posts from the Facebook page, but from the perspective of a small, plastic, library-affiliated dinosaur. Reference Rex has 250 Facebook friends, and there are likes and comments on some of its posts.

Reference Rex's Facebook page

Screenshot from Reference Rex Facebook profile

As a student at UWEC, I did not befriend Reference Rex. I didn’t mind seeing the toy dinosaur around, but I saw no reason to be friends on Facebook. I may not have been alone in that. After all, the McIntyre Library page has 150 more likes than Reference Rex has friends. I appreciate Reference Rex more now – it’s hard not to with posts like “Even though I’ve been around for millions of years, I never knew that the footbridge was supposed to be enclosed and heated!” It’s a more personal version of the McIntyre Library page, and as long as staff are willing to update both, I think it’s worth keeping both of them around. If I were a student there now, I’d probably be friends with Reference Rex and like the library page, to get the information and Reference Rex’s versions.

Finally, McIntyre Library also has a Twitter feed, although it’s not linked to from the library home page. The tweets are pretty much the same as the Facebook posts, abbreviated where necessary. The library seems to have taken Bradley’s advice on having a conversation – they follow slightly more people than they are followed by. They’ve recently retweeted tweets from campus organizations and the local public library. And on November 28, an actual person sent a tweet @mcintyrelibrary.

McIntyre Library’s doing a pretty good job of using social media. They have a blog, a Facebook page for the institution, a Facebook account for the mascot, and a Twitter feed. Except for the blog, there are actual interactions taking place with each. All are pleasantly conversational in style. Reference Rex is definitely sort of silly and out there, but it’s working for some people. It’s best not to rely entirely on the Reference Rexes of social media, but alongside less whimsical expressions it’s definitely worth a try.