The web has come of age. Everyone
has a web page but now new web development is focussed on communication
and interaction. It’s
not enough to just view information – the computer-savvy users
of all generations want to connect with others in the online environment. This
is the basis for the concept of "online social networking" – it
means connecting electronically, through web applications, to places
that allow for social interaction, online collaboration, networking,
The terms used to describe social networking
applications can be overwhelming –wikis, MySpace, Flickr, delicious,
YouTube, SecondLife, Facebook, blogs, RSS, Skype, podcasting, and
tagging are just a few. Hot sites change daily; new products
can rise or fall quickly. Generally, though, social networking
sites break into these types of communication categories
- Virtual communities – MySpace,
- Photo sharing applications – Flickr,
WebShots, Zoomonga, Glowfoto, Picasa
- Video sharing applications – YouTube,
eyespot, vimeo, videoegg
- Shared Gaming applications – Second
Life, EverQuest, the Sims
- Data & information sharing applications – Wikipedia,
Google Docs & spreadsheets, box.net, ProjectShare
- Online publishing – Blogger, Rocketboom,
What does online social networking mean for
libraries? It means
we have the opportunity to use new avenues for communicating, promoting,
and expanding the types of library service we offer. It means
that we have to think differently and try new ways to connect people
in this online environment to library services and programs.
Here are some examples of what libraries are doing to meet this challenge:
Paula Kaufman, University Librarian, UIUC,
is the primary author of a blog called Issues
in Scholarly Communication. This blog is alerting
the scholarly community to issues related to scholarly communication. Jan
Ison, Executive Director, LTLS, is the author of a blog called Working
Together. This blog focuses on library collaboration.
Public Library is
using a blogging site as its library’s web page to post news
and announcements and allow users to email specific items to themselves. Eastern
Illinois University and Champaign
Public Library both blog library announcements and news bulletins.
Memorial Library has posted short video segments about library
services on YouTube. King
County Library System posts storytime videos. Lincoln
Trail Libraries System has posted a video presentation of Rajmohan
Gandhi from a diversity continuing education event for librarians.
Several area libraries use Flickr to
post library photographs. Search for "Champaign Illinois
Public Library," "Danville Illinois Public Library,"
and "Lincoln Trail Libraries System" to see photos of people
and places you know.
An open spaces game called Hot
Books has been created that requires gamers to visit the New
York Public Library. Alliance Library System and other libraries
have developed an Info Island library
space on the Second Life game
site. Gamers can visit Info Island and ask reference questions
or attend programs.
Library has a MySpace library community page. The American
Library Association’s YALSA (Young
Adult) division has created a MySpace virtual community for connecting
These few examples mean that librarians are
engaging in the social network environment. More examples
can be found at the YALSA Online Social Networking wikipedia site, http://teentechweek.wikispaces.com/Online+Social+Networking.