Social Media, Libraries, and Web 2.0: How American Libraries are Using New Tools for Public Relations and to Attract New Users
- Many academic and public libraries in the United States have been embracing the use of Web 2.0 and Social Networking tools to enhance services to library patrons. Libraries have been progressively implementing a wide variety of these tools but many are concentrating their efforts on the use of blogs, open source content management systems such as Joomla and Drupal, social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, and many are also using Instant Messaging chat services such as Meebo to answer reference questions. According to Wikipedia, “Social media are primarily Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and "building" of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.” The private sector industries that use Web 2.0 tools for marketing and public relations should be closely studied by librarians. Fifty-seven percent of respondents to a research study, New Media, New Influencers and Implications for Public Relations by the Society for New Communications Research stated, “Social media tools are becoming more valuable to their activities as more customers and influencers use them.” This research study includes a brief review of recent statistics about the use of these Web 2.0 tools, highlights the importance of why libraries need to understand how the private sector uses these tools, illustrates specific applications for their use in American academic and public libraries, and presents survey findings.