This is a topic that people devote entire classes, blogs, books, and careers to, and I have found myself becoming more and more interested in Web 2.0 technologies and how they relate to the library world.
First, library websites can only do so much. Yes, your library may have spectacular things to offer. And it may even have a beautiful, content-rich, user-friendly website to boot. But the bottom line is that the website only performs its function when someone has already found it. More often than not, people only find library websites because they are looking for them. So what do we do about potential patrons in the communities we serve who aren’t looking?
This article from Digital Inspiration has a great breakdown of the sites people have used and are currently using to share content on the web. When I was new to social networking–a sophomore in college, I believe, which would be 2004–Facebook was a way of telling your “friends” at college what your favorite movies and books were, saying where you were from, and illustrating little idiosyncrasies of your life by joining various groups (like “Raisins, stay the heck out of my cookies!” which I will admit, I’m a member of). Somehow, the world of social networking on the web has grown and morphed into an entire online life. Now, if I find something even remotely interesting, I can share it with hundreds, if not thousands of people, with just a series of clicks. The people have spoken, and these sites–Facebook, Delicious, Twitter, and You Tube–are the medium they have chosen to share (and conversely, find) information on the web.
If this is where the people are, this is where we need to go. We have so much quality information organized in our library-fortresses; we can’t presume that making some of it accessible by putting (sometimes burying) it on a library website is enough. According to this article, You Tube has become the second-most searched search engine on the internet. And it’s not even a “search engine”! This is the perfect opportunity to stumble upon information. Imagine using You Tube to post short video tutorials on how to use information resources at the library. Or, maybe you offer a class on Microsoft Excel; you can draw in more patrons by giving taste of what you offer on video via You Tube. Using You Tube as a free marketing device is a fantastic possibility, and this is a great place to bring social networking back to that idiosyncratic feel–it’s supposed to be fun, remember? Here is a great example from HarperCollins Children’s Books, who created an awesome domino rally using only children’s books.
This article from Bibliothekia has some great ideas and examples of ways libraries can use You Tube.