This lunchtime I went to a presentation at the University Library on the subject of 'Social Networking Tools for Libraries'. The speaker was Dr Sam Chu, Deputy Director of the Centre for Information Technology in Education at the University of Hong Kong. (And he's written a children's story book about hamsters!) This talk was very timely for us, as we've just launched our library Twitter page :)
Dr Chu first ran through some existing research on social networking tools and libraries. From research done in 2008 and 2009 the main points were the fact that students weren't too keen to communicate with professors or parents via social networking (something I think most people would agree with!), and the challenge involved in getting library users to treat librarians as friends.
Dr Chu's own research involved a survey of 140 universities - 70 in Asia and 70 of similar ranking in the West. The survey asked about which social networking tools the library was using, what they used them for, how long they had been using them, benefits or difficulties found, and the level of training given to staff.
Rather surprisingly (I thought) only 38 libraries responded out of the 140. Of these, 71.1% were using social networking tools, and the ones that were using them were fairly evenly split between Asia and the West. Unsurprisingly, Twitter and Facebook were most common, but others being mentioned included blogs, delicious, flickr, slideshare, and wikis.
Another question asked whether staff received training in the social networking tools the library used. 61.5% received training - as Dr Chu went on to say, staff members will need training if they don't already use these tools for personal use, but those who do already use them may well need some extra training, as they might have the basics down very well but be missing out on useful extra features they didn't already know about.
Another result I found surprising - only six respondents said that they would welcome any new tools that would be useful to the library to promote and enhance services. Only six?!
Tomorrow I will be out all evening so I'll probably do one post on Friday to sum it all up.