Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's Next?

I think out of all of the tools that I have explored in the past few weeks, I would choose to introduce my staff to Facebook. I would choose Facebook because of its popularity and because it has been around for a while now, so most people are accustomed to using it. Not only could Facebook be used to house groups and allow staff to communicate, but I think that it is also an effective medium to communicate with library patrons.

Facebook provides an email function, a wide range of applications, a place to blog, and even a place to post photos and videos. Recently, a chat feature was even introduced. All of these characteristics offer many different routes through which to reach the public.

There is a group page even devoted to libraries creating Facebook pages. On this page, numerous people have posted successful examples of incorporating Facebook into the library. For example, the Charleston County Public Library has a Facebook page. They post the hours of operation, websites of the week, announcements and other items of importance.

Some libraries have even created Facebook applications. While Dave Lester disagrees with these library-created applications, he mentions that these applications involve adding a catalogue search bar to your Facebook page. I do not see a problem with this at all. In fact, I like the idea of being able search the library catalogue as I am checking my Facebook page. It makes it more convenient, rather than visiting a separate webpage. Lester suggests that a library's Facebook application should allow the user to share a list of books that he or she has taken out of the library as well as resources that the user has used to complete research projects. This would certainly be of use in an academic context where collaboration is concerned.

While I see using Facebook to promote the library as a great way to reach those who would not otherwise go into the library, others feel that the library has some work to do before students will welcome librarians to Facebook, according to Ryan Deschamps. He says that some people feel that the culture of libraries does not correspond well with the culture of Facebook. I see this as a sort of challenge, however. Why not try to break the barriers and get the library and Facebook culture melded together?

One thing that is important to consider when teaching the staff about Facebook (or any new technology for that matter), is the lack of knowledge they may have of the technology. For example, in my family my maternal grandmother and my mother do not have any technological skills. My mom has a difficult time with some online programs. With a staff that may range from extremely novice to expert on Facebook (among other technologies), you should start from the beginning and allow the more knowledgeable individuals to help you in teaching the others about Facebook. It is essential to not assume that everyone has the background knowledge to just be able to use Facebook right off the bat. This is why I would use a demonstration and tutorials to start us all off.

I would first introduce Facebook to the members of the staff in a staff meeting. I think it would be helpful to have a demonstration and a tutorial session so that the staff can learn about what Facebook can do and to play around with it. I would use the Common Craft video “Social Networking in Plain English.” It is a great resource for those who are new to the social networking world. I would also be sure to show them the examples of libraries that have already incorporated Facebook into their system.

I would encourage the staff to sign up for a Facebook account (there is a tutorial for this located at All Facebook: The Unofficial Facebook Resource and try out the various aspects found within the website. I know that most people do not enjoy trying things out for work in their free time (a.k.a. when they are not at work), but some people may find that they end up liking Facebook so much, they may keep their own personal accounts anyway.

My next step would be to delegate a person (or persons) to be “in charge” of setting up the library’s Facebook page. I think it would be best to get one or two people to take charge in this area so that everything will remain consistent for both the library as well as the users (or the public). I recommend introducing Facebook gradually to the library patrons. For example, I would mention on the library website that people could find the library on Facebook. When people start becoming “fans” of the library, I would begin promoting some events that will be occurring at the library. I think the best way to avoid patrons and staff from becoming overwhelmed is to start off slow. It is also important to try new things within Facebook because it may end up that you find something that really works for the library that you might not have otherwise come across.

In terms of using Facebook in the schools with teachers, I think the best time to introduce them to Facebook would also be during a staff meeting. With teachers already having so many responsibilities (ie. supervision, sports and extracurricular activities/coaching, marking, planning, etc.), the staff meeting is the best time to get them to sit down and explore its uses. While I understand that many librarians often do not get the opportunity to share these technologies in staff meetings, I would definitely push the principal to find some time. The professional development days could also be an excellent time to give the teachers to try out Facebook for themselves and then as a group come up with a variety of ways in which it might be used in the classroom with their students.

Perhaps then, the teachers in each grade could meet one afternoon after school and look at implementing Facebook into the classroom in one way. It could be something as simple as creating an account and then joining a group created for that particular grade. (Of course, we would be sure to adjust the privacy settings to the most secure possible). I would create a permission slip for students to take home to get parental permission about using Facebook, outlining all the ways in which it will be used and assuring parents that no personal information will be given out. I would also have students sign a contract stating that they agree to use the website appropriately and if they do not, their use of Facebook in the classroom will immediately end (no second chances). This allows the students to also have some responsibility in using the technology at school.

I would even consider having a couple of students help you during lunch or recess and assist you in developing a Facebook lesson. These students could be available to help if problems arise, and it would also be a great way to test out your idea for using Facebook in the classroom prior to involving the entire class. Perhaps the students could even give you feedback about what would work and what wouldn’t (since most of them are already members of the social networking site).

Students could then have a little bit of exploration time with the tool and see what kinds of things that they can use Facebook for in the classroom. Eventually, once the students are more comfortable using the technology, they could have discussions on the novel being read in class (and also discuss the novel with the other students not in the same class). They could possibly post a video of an experiment and discuss what occurred in the duration to make the result possible. The opportunities are endless!

The school may even want to consider creating a Facebook page for parents and guardians to follow. It would be a great way to promote school fundraisers, events, new books to the library, new teachers in the school, and inform them about any upcoming holidays. Some schools may even want to incorporate a Facebook homework page where the homework from each class is posted to it daily. A student could be given this assignment (a different student each day could complete the duty) and post it online. This would be especially helpful for those students who constantly forget their homework (although I understand that students should also take some responsibility for their learning and record the homework themselves). This would also be great for students who are sick and miss a day or two of school. They can still keep on top of what they missed and not be too far behind when they return to school.

It is important to not throw everyone into the Facebook world all at once. By introducing it slowly, it allows everyone to get used to it so that they do not get stressed about it or confused. The main thing to remember is that Facebook should not overshadow the content that is being used. Rather, Facebook should be used so as to enhance the learning experience for both the teachers and the students. The same could be said in a library context. The library should incorporate Facebook because it will enhance the library’s features, not because everyone is using Facebook or because it seems like the right thing to do.

Once I introduced the staff to Facebook, I would look at introducing blogs and wikis. As Facebook is something of a microblogging service, I think it might be a bit easier to transition to full-out blogging. If librarians and teachers can think of enough to write a status update, then they could be ready to step it up and be involved in blogging. Including blogging in the technology repertoire will also enhance the learning of students, teacher, and library patrons alike and allow them to remain connected to each other to learn more.

All Facebook: The Unofficial Facebook Resource. n.d. 10 Aug 2009

Common Craft. “Social Networking in Plain English.” 27 June 2007. 10 Aug 2009

Deschamps, Ryan. “Facebook and Rapport.” The Other Librarian. 10 Sept 2007. 10 Aug 2009

Lester, Dave. “Libraries Invade Facebook.” Dave Lester’s Finding America. 9 July 2007. 10 Aug 2009

1 comment:

  1. Facebook really is a great way to reach out to a lot of people. There are so many people on facebook. And it's really easy to set up and use. I agree that it would be a great addition to a library or school.