but once libraries get to facebook, what do they do there?

Jenny points out the UIUC library search which is a widget that can be put on any user’s facebook page so they can search the library catalog right from Facebook.

Facebook recently opened up their site to other applications and there has been a huge explosion in what people are sharing on their profile pages. From my own subjective perspective, it seems like these applications are getting more people to Facebook and keeping them there, doing stuff. In my 2.0 talks I have often talked about how libraries could create “presence” using social tools and I’ve pointed to Facebook groups like Awesome Resources which is a group of 30+ librarians doing what librarians do best: sharing resources and helping each other find things.

When I went to Ann Arbor this week, I connected with Ed “Superpatron” Vielmetti on Facebook and it’s one of the fastest and best ways to get ahold of a small subset of my friends. When I was at the Berkman Center event last week listening to them talk about Digital Natives (versus tired old “digital immigrants” like myself) a professor mentioned that they did a show of hands survey of their incoming class to Harvard this year and asked who had a Facebook page. The answer wasn’t “most of them” but every single one of them. Granted Harvard skews in some ways towards the clueful and plugged in, but what an opportunity, knowing the one place that all of your students go online. I’m not totally sure if we know what to there once we get there, and I share the same privacy concerns as others about how much information we’re aggregating and personally identifying there, but I also feel that the UIUC search box is a little breakthrough application, sort of the way LibX was for Firefox. Exciting times, no?

5 comments for “but once libraries get to facebook, what do they do there?

  1. 10Jun07 at 2:34

    Jessamyn, do you think Facebook is a US thing – because over here I’d say MySpace has cornered the younger ‘blogging’ demographic. (Nice for Rupert.)
    I do wonder fleetingly if there are some demographic lines that can be drawn around certain applications – LiveJournal for writers is another example that comes to mind.

  2. 10Jun07 at 8:48

    That’s a really good question, I wonder if Facebook is a USian phenomenon. I know that because I logged in to MySpace when I was in Australia they now set my dates in European format (10-06-07 for today for example) even though I never said “oh hey I’m Australian!)

  3. 10Jun07 at 11:03

    At Huddersfield (UK), there are 3,580 Facebook users registered in the “Uni. Huddersfield” network, which would equate to about 20% of the total student population. We have a large number of mature students, and I suspect they’re less likely to have accounts that the 18-21 year olds.

    Facebook is the third most visited external web site from on-campus (Google is first, followed by MySpace, with the BBC site and Yahoo in fourth & fifth places).

    As soon as I get some spare time, I’m going to try and integrate library account info (holds, items due back soon, fines, etc) and personalised book recommendations into Facebook.

    We already make all of that data available (either as RSS feeds or as stuff that appears once you’ve logged into your OPAC account), so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

  4. Kate Sherrill
    11Jun07 at 10:32

    At the university library where I work part-time, Facebook has been so popular, that at times it almost crashed their network. At the community college where I work full-time, MySpace rules and Facebook has very few users. Same town, similar demographic. *shrug*

  5. 11Jun07 at 11:45

    Note that the most popular application on Facebook is iLike, with almost 3 million users, giving music recommendations.

    There’s room for someone to do a huge book recommendation network on Facebook & no doubt that it would get similar sorts of traffic.

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