The Small but Powerful Guide to Winning Big Support for Your Rural Library
Technology as an advocacy tool
Technology, especially new social media technologies, have significantly changed organizations’ abilities to connect with members of their communities. Listed below are strategies for utilizing technology for the benefit of the library.
Perhaps one of the most basic but useful technology tools for libraries is a basic library web site. In addition to providing access to collections, information on upcoming programs and directions to the library, the web site can serve as a link to other web-based initiatives such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The essentials for any web site—a phone number, address, contact names (with phone numbers and e-mail addresses where applicable), a calendar of events, a list of services and hours of operation.
For some small libraries, simple is not only better, it’s essential. For a simple but effective library web site, consider WordPress (http://wordpress.com/) to create a library blog which can be enhanced to create a more robust site for your library. WordPress is easy to update and can be enhanced with plugins for a calendar, submit a question form, request a book form and more. WordPress can even incorporate content from libraries’ Facebook and Twitter accounts.
With over 500 million users, Facebook has become one of the largest communities in the world.
Facebook allows organizations to create “pages” to share their information with Facebook members who choose to connect with them. The average Facebook user is connected to 80 community pages, groups or events.
Facebook pages can be created and managed from a personal account—but only the official representative of an organization should create a page. From a Facebook page, organizations can share news and updates, post pictures and videos, publicize events and cultivate a network of “fans.”
Even more important, Facebook users can share information about your page with other users, increasing your reach and expanding your community of supporters.
Flickr is an image hosting web site that allows users to share personal photographs and host images for use in other social media tools.
Libraries can utilize Flickr to help them share the vibrancy and breadth of activities that take place in a library through pictures.
By uploading pictures to Flickr, libraries can share the library experience with funders and members of the media and
easily re-display the photos on the library website and Facebook page or link to them on Twitter.
Twitter is a microblogging service that allows users to send and read “tweets”—text-based posts of up to 140 characters.
Users can follow and be followed by other users, creating a network for sharing information. As of 2010, Twitter has over 100 million registered users, with new users registering at a rate of 300,000 per day.
Libraries can use Twitter to connect with followers, sharing information on upcoming events, highlighting new materials in their collections or putting out a call for support. In addition to text, “tweets” can include hyperlinks pointing users to more information or the library’s web page—hint: tools like Snip URL (http://snipurl.com/) or bitly (http://bitly.com) can turn long URLs into shorter URLS that fit into a tweet. Twitter can also help libraries track issues in their community of users.