During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and

information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #7.

The Bulletin feature in MySpace, and other social networking tools, is a powerful tool that enables librarians to connect with teens in the community. A librarian can use bulletins to get the word out about library programs and services to all of her friends on My Space. Instead of putting up posters around town and handing out flyers in the library and local businesses, the bulletin feature in My Space gives librarians the chance to spread the word in a much more instantaneous and powerful way. Even more powerful is when a librarian works with the teens, bands, schools, businesses, etc. in the community to advertise each other’s news.

For example:

  • A popular local band library promotes library programs with MySpace bulletins
  • Authors who are popular with local teens announce their library visits via MySpace bulletins.
  • Local coffee shops that have a MySpace presence announce library programs as a bulletin.
  • Teens announce in a MySpace bulletin what’s happening at the library.

Why is publicity of this kind, that the library can do on its own, perhaps more successful when it comes from outside of the library? Because, by getting the community, and people and groups that teens are interested in involved, the library becomes a part of a larger community. Teens that might not be a friend on the library’s MySpace page, but are friends on the band or local coffee house page will see information about the library’s events. (Instead of the 100 or so friends the library has that will see the bulletin, the 500 friends of the local coffee house will see the bulletin.) Perhaps, coming from an entity outside of the library, the announcement might hold more sway and interest with/for teens. (We might not like it but that’s very possibly true.)

The other side of this is, of course, that the library should start using bulletins on MySpace to announce the goings on of organizations, schools, bands, etc. in the local community. That way these organizations will reach a larger audience AND the library will serve teens with information that goes beyond its four walls.

Bulletins in MySpace are an amazing tool for getting the word out and connecting users to information of all kinds. Libraries need to learn new ways to market their programs and services and this is an opportunity not to be missed. DOPA limits not only what teens have access to in schools and public libraries, but it also limits what librarians can do to improve their programs and services. Librarians need to get to where teens are, and social networking helps make that happen. If DOPA is passed we’ll move many steps back just when we are moving forward in this area.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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