I have a librarian friend new to social networking, but she gamely signed up for Facebook, just to see what it was all about. Last week she sent me this note: “Hey Beth– checking out your Facebook page (thanks for friending me 🙂 –btw) and noticed a message on your wall from KM. He was my son’s best friend in high school! I’m trying to guess your connection to him–perhaps comics? Neat guy!”

She was right on the money: comics, indeed. KM was a senior in high school when we met 5 years ago. When I was a YA librarian, he sent me an unsolicited email, asking me to be an advisor on his senior project on comic books — There was no MySpace or Facebook back then — he found me because I’d posted a webpage about my BWI/YALSA Collection Development Grant that I used to start a graphic novel collection. I learned as much about comics from him as he did from me. We’ve evolved from a mentor/mentee to peer relationship since, and usually go to a comic book spin-off movie once a year.

A couple of points:

  • It’s good to be accessible. I see a LOT of library homepages that don’t include the name or email address of the YA librarian.
  • Teens need adults that care about them to act as mentors and role models.
  • The YALSA/BWI Collection Development Grant is a great opportunity for materials growth and easy to apply for.
  • Applying for grants gets you more than just money.

Along the lines of this age thing, in my Pain in the Brain class, we’ve been having a really interesting discussion about RESPECT. It is assumed, or earned? Are people respected for their age, title, and status, or their experience, expertise, knowledge and skills? Someone mentioned the Internet as a great leveler — you don’t know someone’s age unless they volunteer it (or, you ask). It doesn’t feel strange to me to have friends that range from 24-54 — or to be friends with a mom, and someone who is the age of her child, as well. At ALA, in a session on millennials, I heard “They don’t want us in their space.” Do you agree, or disagree?

About Beth Gallaway

Beth Gallaway was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2006 for her work in advocating for videogames in libraries. She is an independent library trainer/consultant specializing in gaming, technology, and youth services, and is a YALSA certified Serving the Underserved (SUS) trainer.

3 Thoughts on “The Power of Social Networking

  1. Teens don’t want us to rule their space. Most like the idea that we provide information they want in a way that is easily delivered to them by having a page there. When you don’t have a way for teens to contact you, ask you questions and make suggestions, you be come irrelevant. The teens need a place to meet their needs. If you put effort into creating all of the features of Myspace in your library page great, otherwise creating a library profile is a free way to provide all those features.

    However I do wonder what message we send to teens when we create a library page in these places but are forced by government mandates to filter even the library’s profile page.

  2. I think that most kids don’t mind if we’re in “their” space as long as we don’t go invading it. While I know that most of my high school students have pages on myspace and facebook, I don’t go looking for them. I don’t befriend them and I have my page set to private because it’s my PERSONAL page. I have pictures on there that I don’t want anyone other than my friends seeing. The kids respect that. I tell them that if they want to be my friend when they are 21, they can look me up! But I don’t want to mix my social life with my professional life. My blog and website are for the kids to read and comment.

  3. Sara Douglas [Visitor] on July 13, 2007 at 4:30 am said:

    They don’t want us in their space? Sure they do! As long as we don’t just go barging in, they want us around. Like you said, it is good to be accessible. When I was growing up I literally knew no one from the age of 18 to about 35 years old; everyone I knew was either older or younger than that. The internet is a great place to be able to talk to people like that if you’re like me and grew up in the middle of nowhere where those people were either in college or off somewhere where there were better jobs. They want us to be around because they have lots of questions for us that are easier asked online than in person.

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