justifiying social media for nigerian libraries and librarians

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Putting it very simple, libraries give out information while the social media is about information sharing: and for both, it is about communicating information. Information and communication or information communication has come a long way. To communicate, humans have used the signs and symbols languages, and the skill to speak face to face with one another. The skill of writing that was followed by letter-writing which dates back to 550 BC was a great development in information sharing. Bulletins, the immediate forerunner of newspapers came up in Germany around 1400s as a further media to share information. Then, the Telegraph in 1792, which allowed information and messages to be delivered over a long distance far faster than a horse or vehicle. The invention of the telephone and the radio in 1890 and 1891 opened the way for mass media. The revolutionary stage of the mass media the newspapers, books, recordings, television etc was another remarkable stage in information communication. These, eventually are the forerunners of the digital age.Contd

With the digital age, the various mass media, now seen as traditional, are threatened species. The reason is simple the emergence and preponderance of the social media (Okeke, 2013) with the ability to share print and non print information. With social media, individuals, peers, groups, organizations and communities are in touch with the world every time. Humans, using social media can now relate, communicate or share information in multiple forms regardless of space, time, and location.

With the library embracing Information Communication Technology, her operations and services ceased to be confined to space, location and time. However, the social media stand to better these operations and services. The librarys role of acquiring, informing, educating, entertaining, teaching, supporting learning, researching etc do not have to continue in a space or location within a time frame. The social media is a ready and flexible tool that can make a lot of difference in serving our users. We must therefore embrace the social media and equally remind ourselves that the library is a growing organism.Contd

A large percent of the social media space is for sharing knowledge but looking for interesting ways of providing those details is key to gaining social media momentum rather than posting items without any sense of interest or appeal.

In this paper, I will attempt to give reasons for libraries and librarians in Nigerian to embrace the social media to serve their clientele taking note that that we have a history of getting information free of charge from town criers. The social media, if explored can give our community of users information almost free of charge.

What is Social media?Social media also known as social networks are tools (through the registration of profiles with their platforms) that help promote the sharing of information on real time basis. These tools are dependent on modern digital communication like the Internet and the WWW. Some examples of social media are:1.Facebook: the popularity of this tool among students is unparalleled (Smith and Caruso, 2010). It actually started as a college interaction platform. It now has about 1 billion visitors every month. This is obviously the most popular.

2. Tweeter: this is an excellent communication tool to distribute short, concise informative and valuable message. With twitter, you can follow news and library developments.

3. MySpace: this networking service has a strong music emphasis.

4. LinkedIn: this is for professional networking. This is good for career development.

5.Youtube: this is a video watching and sharing networking site.

What is Social networking?

Social networking is when you share information, communicate and interact with other users. Social networking is finding a site, picture or idea that you enjoy and send it to a friend. They visit it, look at it, read it and then pass it on to another friend. Slowly it is passed to another thereby creating a network of social activity.A mere user or a participant in social media is not the same as on who truly understands it in business and marketing context.What can the social media do (for the library)?

Promote (library) servicesUpdate on (library) refurbishmentsPromote new acquisitions new arrivalsPromote (library) events, guides, exhibitionConnect with new staff and students joining the institutionEngage with the academic communityConnect with the wider community beyond the institution e.g. the town in which the institution is basedConnect with distance learnerConnect with distance learnersAs a customer services tool, it can serve as complaints, suggestions, enquiries, feedback courtConnect with potential studentsAs a teaching tool to promote information literacy.As a research tool to locate researchers in particular fieldSDI and current awareness, or subject specific informationOffers opportunity to correct misinformationReasons for libraries to use social media

To solicit opinion on the library and its services for self evaluationTo get to patrons in their virtual spaces, that is their homes, office etcTo publicize events services, news, etcTo encourage collaborations with other librariesIncrease usage of library collection by promoting new and existing contentTo connect with other librarians and to be abreast with developmentsSocial media has helped researchers contribute to the body of knowledgeJustifying social networking for libraries and librarians

Low cost. The cost is low and when compared with the traditional media it is sometimes free.You are your own publisher. You have control over content and timingEasy and quick way to connect with friends of the libraryRequires little trainingPromotes library services and disseminates news quickly and directly to the userIncreases engagement and interaction with library usersHelps to gather feedback to enhance user services Encourages communication within the library and other departmentsSocial networking can be managed for the library from anywhere.Further justification (quotes)

Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to community-Simon Mainwaring

We dont have a choice on whether to do social media: the question is how well we do it-Erik Qualram

Everything you post on social media impacts your personal brand. How do you want to be known?-Lisa HornContdNowadays, social media is the easiest place to find something-David Nail

Social media can be a powerful tool to listen to, engage with and gain access to customers that you would otherwise not be able to connect with-Carol Roth

Social media is an amazing tool, but its the face-to-face interaction that makes a long term impact-Felicia Day

The dark side of social media is that within seconds, anything can be blown out of proportion and taken out of context-Nichola FormichettiChallenges to contend with

Social media requires considerable time commitment.

It can require technology expert cross posting

There are copyright issues on some social media you tube

Factors like internet connectivity, technology infrastructure cost money

Absence of feedbacks in the forms of likes and comments can be discouraging

Contending with annoying post

No training/seminar/workshop for the social media librarian

Constantly generating content

For head of libraries, is there a social media librarian in your librarys future budget?A potential social media librarian should:

Love Information Communication TechnologyBe prepared to work to use social media for professional or work related issuesBe prepared to do public relations and marketing for the libraryCommitting your time. Be prepared to be pro active by read and investigating how to use the social media as an engagement toolBe prepared to admit friends and check their profile. Be courteous. Be very ready to thank followers, reply to comments and, ask and respond to questions, and engage themBe familiar with the terms and conditions of usage of the preferred tool.Have a good writing and communicating skillCreating social media content

It is however very necessary for library staff to learn the technology and the format behind each or the preferred social media taking note that a major challenge of the media is generating content. This is more challenging because libraries must update their content regularly. Updating regularly can be easy when there is a bank of ideas to choose from. To enrich your social media content bank, seek out similar institutions or groups that already have similar social media presence. Simply review their post by searching for their social media platforms for pages and feeds similar to your goals. These would provide examples of local content that might interest you and your clientele. Equally check the likes, comment or followers. Ideas of what to share include:Contd

Local collectionsAnswers to FAQsDaily eventsNew arrivalsStudents workYour professional publicationsLost but found itemsWords/quotes of the dayPhotographs of library parts and neighborhoodConclusion

Social media have been very dominant in our lives in the past few years and there is no likelihood that it will stop being so. Rather, there is going to be an increasing need for libraries and librarians to use the