Yesterday I had an experience that reminded me of the ways in which social networking can be used to connect teens, and anyone else, to information. Here’s what happened. I found out about a new social network just for knitters. (It’s called Ravelry, https://www.ravelry.com/) When I read the press release about the new tool I realized it might be perfect for someone who I communicate with on Twitter. I sent a Twitter message to this person about the site and sure enough she was interested.
What really struck me in this experience was the fact that I don’t know my knitting friend from a face-to-face relationship. I only know her through her Twitter posts, which sometimes include something about knitting. So, while I don’t know this Twitter friend really well, I do know enough about her through the very short posts that she writes on Twitter (Twitter posts can only be 140 characters long) to know the kinds of things she’s interested in.
Twitter gets bad press from some people because it is filled with people simply talking about what they are doing at any given moment. But, as librarians, knowing what someone is doing in their spare – or not spare time – can be really helpful in helping connect users to information. Imagine if you and teens in your library communicated via Twitter. You might find out about some teen interests that give you a better idea of informational and recreational needs. As a result you could connect teens, via Twitter, to resources that meet those needs.
Twitter isn’t the only social networking platform that can serve librarians as an information gathering and dissemination tool. Most, if not all, social networking tools provide that opportunity. Focusing on these tools from this framework might help you to sell this in your community and with your colleagues.