1. Raise the libraries‘ level of awareness and visibility
Over and over again it is remarkable, how little awareness of libraries’ work is present in big parts of the population. Social media enable libraries to gain a broad reach in the digital world – even beyond their usual user communities. Just looking at the social media usage figures in Germany reveals how big the potential for libraries is. The only thing needed is the qualified personnel and the necessary openness to budget staff resources for this. In particular there are also good opportunities for smaller libraries. And for larger libraries being present on social media is mandatory by now.
2. To present the library as a modern, open and future-oriented institution
Libraries can present themselves as likeable and modern organizations on social networks. They do not want to be seen solely as a book rental point, but want to raise awareness as a location with a full range of services. To share only book tables and book recommendations is not enough. Even though it can be good, too, if it is done smart, and it probably reaches the desired target group of book and literature enthusiasts, who are especially active on Twitter. Social media make it possible to let people look through a key hole into the libraries’ daily life. The library can act in a funny and emotional way.
3. Enable direct communication with users
It has never been easier to communicate so directly with the library users outside of the library building. Many people in libraries still shy away from social media, but at bottom it is the same kind of communication as within a library and beyond it. To get direct feedback offers huge opportunities in particular.
4. Credibility as a provider of digital services
Libraries offer more and more digital services, loan of digital media, PressReader, databases, streaming services and many more. Nothing does more harm to the libraries’ attractiveness and credibility as if the library itself struggles with the communicative centrepiece of the digital world, the social media, and still wants to use these media to communicate its digital services. It is important for libraries to know about social media if they want to share digital services with interested persons. Professionalism is important. For this reason, you also have to technically master the social media channels – anything else would be ridiculous.
5. Win future specialist staff, trigger positive image transfer
Imagine you are young, enthusiastic, you live on social media, but at the same time you have a certain professional distance, and you want to apply for an interesting job offer in a library. You search the web und you find the library´s homepage and some of its news on Google news. Social media platforms? Mediocre, not up-to-date or not available. You ask yourself: “The library wants to offer digital contents, to be an intermediary between them and its users, and it is not present at the centrepiece of digital life?” Everyone is talking about the image transformation of libraries. If a library wants to employ the information specialists of the future, it has to be present there today.
6. Networking with communities within the town and building a community
The libraries of the present and of the future connect people, build networks with citizens and offer platforms for this purpose. Libraries are becoming more and more places of knowledge transfer and informal learning among its users. Many libraries set up library laboratories and makerspaces. If one wants to reach the digital community and build a community of its own, a professional presence on social media and beyond is mandatory, for instance on portals like meetup.com (link in german). Here, the important players and multipliers for the library can be found.
7. Trustworthy partner on the web – a new challenge and a huge chance
A lot of false rumours and hoaxes circulate on the web. This is not new, but due to the fake news debate it has reached a new level. There are a lot of people in need of orientation, especially on social media. Libraries are active there, but they could be even more active and take on a more active role when it comes to well-founded information and research. Libraries can become the trustworthy anchor points on the web.
Guest blog post by: Karoline Kahmann, social media und on-line editor of the Düsseldorf Public Libraries, and Stephan Schwering, head of the central library of the Düsseldorf Public Libraries.
Since six years the Düsseldorf Public Libraries are present on social networks, and are by now very successful. The Public Libraries can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat (for the youth library). Its own blog is called „buchstabensuppe“ (alphabet soup). The YouTube channel currently is used only as a „container” for video productions, mainly for linking. The content-related concepts of the single networks were modified again and again and they will be further modified in the future. The constant change and the continuous platform adjustments place high demands regarding the flexibility and know-how of the social media team, that always has to be up-to-date.
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