David Lee King and Robin Hastings Discuss Social Networking and the Library

By Daniel A. Freeman |

We’re really excited about our upcoming workshop Using Social Software in Library Marketing: Facebook, Twitter and More with David Lee King and Robin Hastings. The Workshop takes place on December 1st and 8th, 2010, in two 90-minute sessions, both at 2:30pm Eastern.

I had a chance to talk a bit with Robin and David about what they are going to cover during this unique learning event.

You can register for this event at the ALA Store.

Dan Freeman: So how would you describe the focus of this workshop? What will people be able to get out of it?

Robin Hastings: For me, the focus of the workshop will be on using social networks to work with all kinds of different people - coworkers, community organizations and patrons - as well as on how to market that work effectively using your social networks. I'm hoping to show people how to bring social media into their workflow.

David Lee King: The focus is on collaboration and tools to use in an online setting - to connect to staff and your customers. Robin and I will teach how collaboration works online, some stuff to do before jumping in with both feet (like planning, goal setting, and thinking through marketing), and where to start with social media tools.

DF: It seems like there’s so much social media out there that a lot of librarians just don’t know where to start. How are you guys going to approach this?

RH: The best way to start is to start small - pick one and get used to it, then move on to another one. I'll be talking about the benefits of many different types of networking sites, so attendees can get some background on the different social media options out there and pick the one(s) that are right for them.

DLK: We'll tell where the most usual places to start are currently, and how to start using those tools. We'll also go a bit deeper, and talk a bit about just how connecting with users in those spaces work - what does it look like, and how is it different?

DF: Social media is a great marketing tool for libraries, but you’ve both talked before about how it can actually be a tool for providing service to patrons. Can you tell me more about this, and how you’ll talk about it in the workshop?

RH: I'll be talking about using social networking to help patrons create their own content, learn how to consume the content that is being created by other patrons and by their local library and become connected and active digital citizens. Of course, just using social media to publicize library programs and services will help patrons out because they'll become aware of all the cool free stuff we offer!

DLK: Using something like Facebook or Twitter, patrons can access real content and ask real questions - to me, that sounds much more like a service of the library than an add-on or simply a marketing tool. We'll talk about how libraries can "be the library" in these emerging digital spaces.

DF: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing librarians today in terms of social media?

RH: Finding time. With our current budget situations, most of us are seriously overworked and finding the time to learn how to use these networks effectively can be difficult. Attending workshops like the one David and I are offering can be helpful, of course, but then you have to go put all those ideas to use and that takes some time to do. Hopefully, this workshop will help shave off a bit of the learning time and let librarians focus on actual "putting it to use" time!

DLK: Staff time. It takes actual staff to answer those actual questions, and it takes actual staff to continually add new content to these services. Sometimes, that can mean a LOT of time - like with videos, for example. Most libraries are already full of busy, maxed out staff... that's a hard question to answer succinctly!