L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library serves the city of Eau Claire, which has a population of about 65,000. The library has a Twitter feed and a Facebook page. In the top right corner of the website, there are tiny Facebook and Twitter icons from which you can click on to go to the page. They might be a little too tiny though – when I went to the site to see what kinds of social media the library uses, I looked and looked and looked but didn’t notice them. It doesn’t help that the library site has a blue header and both icons also incorporate blue. Maybe I’m just not very observant, but if I couldn’t find those links when I was specifically looking for them, it’s a safe bet plenty of other people aren’t seeing them either.

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library home page

The Facebook and Twitter icons are a lot easier to find if you already know where they are! Screenshot of the L.E. Phillips library home page.

On Twitter the library is known as Eau Claire Public Library (@ECPubLib) while on Facebook it’s the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. The library does have a really long name, so of course it has to be abbreviated for the Twitter handle. Some consistency would be nice, though. Whether the library goes by its full name or its location doesn’t really matter, but having it go by one in some places and the other in others makes it hard to find all its social media. After finding the Twitter feed, I searched Facebook for Eau Claire Public Library and didn’t find it. Fortunately one of the first results was the profile of someone who works there, and there was a link to the actual page from there. This would be less important if I’d been able to find the links from the library site in the first place. Sure, I was able to find everything in the end, but ordinary users might be just as unobservant as I am, and a little less determined. Making it easy for people to find your social media is an important first step.

Eau Claire Library Twitter

Screenshot of the Eau Claire Library Twitter account.

Even after you find the Twitter icon, it’s not that helpful. When you click on the icon, the last few tweets show up. To go to Twitter, you have to click “Follow me on Twitter” – which takes you to a login page, incredibly frustrating for people who don’t have Twitter accounts. Library, don’t make people sign up for Twitter to see your tweets!

Once you circuitously find your way to the Twitter feed without logging in,the library’s tweets are overwhelmingly programming announcements, with occasional reminders of holiday hours. They follow one person, and are followed by 106 people. In the last few months they’ve averaged just over one tweet a week. They’re pretty straightforward – someone looking at the Twitter feed for the first time shouldn’t be confused by the page (although getting there is another story).

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library Facebook page

Screenshot of the L.E. Phillips library Facebook page

From the homepage, you can like the Facebook page or just go to it. The content is just as easy to understand as Twitter’s. The page has slightly more detailed versions of the programming announcements from the Twitter feed. They also have other posts. For example, there have been two recent posts about a community happiness survey, which has nothing to do with the library itself. 487 people have liked the Facebook page. However, most posts have no comments or likes. The Facebook page also includes the library’s hours, address, website, and lots of pictures from library events. It’s also easy to use for first-time visitors to the page.

Both the Facebook page and Twitter feed for L.E. Phillips Memorial Library are mostly used to make announcements.
Some people have liked or followed them, but there’s hardly any interaction. No one has tweeted anything @ECPubLib, and very few posts on the Facebook page have been commented on or even liked. They’re basically doing the same thing as the library’s Events page. That might be okay, because they’re at least in different formats. Theoretically the point of social media is to be social, but if library users are getting what they want out of these tools, there’s nothing wrong with their current use.

I lived in Eau Claire until recently, went to the library regularly, and never used the Twitter feed or Facebook page. Now that I’ve looked at both pages, I’d consider using the Facebook page if I were still in town. A lot of the posts are irrelevant to my interests, but there are occasional ones – like the announcement about library Kindle books – that I’d like to know about, especially since I didn’t visit the library homepage often either.

I found the Events page on the library site a little confusing. You can’t just go to Events, you have to choose a type of event. When I clicked the link on the bottom of the home page, the Events page never loaded properly (I tried several times). When I chose Main Events from the top menu, a page did load, but there were no events on it. You can choose from several views, including a weekly calendar, a monthly calendar, and a list. No matter what view I picked though, no events showed up. I assumed Main Events is meant to list all the events that are coming up, no matter what categories they belong to. If so, something’s not working properly. The library has a very sophisticated website, which I definitely admire, but that can mean it’s hard to catch all the little things that go wrong. If I’m wrong about the significance of Main Events, a new page title might clear things up.

You can also see featured events, art exhibits, and events for kids and teens under the Events menu. But at the moment at least, there’s nowhere on the site that lists all the events in order. Facebook and Twitter do this pretty well. I wonder if the library has any way of keeping track of how many people who come to an event heard about it through one of these social media. It’d be interesting to know just how effective they are.

This library is using two kinds of social media, and it’s keeping up with both of them. They’re being used pretty much the same way, and there’s not a lot of interaction with either of them. It’s definitely worth keeping up with both of them, especially because it might be faster for some people to check Facebook than use the library website to see what’s going on in a given week. More social interaction might come with time; for Facebook, this could be encouraged by posting questions.

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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.