So now that we have established that we all have a little case of information overload, what do we do? I supervise--I really don't like that word and will often exchange it with support so... I support 30 librarians at 27 different sites and I find that one of the most common frustrations across the board is that there just aren't enough hours in the day to circulate, develop the collection, provide reference help, conduct story-times and book talks, and shelve, let alone learn about or promotion via technology, social media, and Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools.
When it comes to integrating virtual patron outreach into our day-to-day, less is more. For the most part, everyone is overwhelmed. Take yourself for example. Have you ever referred to a new social media outlet as "just one more thing to check"? Are you reading this blog on a whim because you had a few minutes and it had a catchy title? (I apologize to regular readers of my or any blogs and I salute you for your patronage!) Your patrons--for the most part--feel the same way. So pick one or two to start, and go from there.
Most people today use one or all of the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. There are dozens more, but if you are going to pick one to start, start with one of these. Each is different in what they allow you to provide your patrons.
Let's start with Pinterest. This social media tool is a virtual pin board where you can "pin" pictures from the web upload them from your computer. You can also drop in a little explanation (500 characters or less) with each picture. It's great for pinning book covers, infographics, and pictures of events held in the library.
Next is Twitter. This is an extremely easy to use social media tool. Have you ever said something witty and only the walls are listening? Now you can tweet your witticisms out--along with any other 140 character headlines, newsflashes, and quick tips. All you have to do is get patrons to follow you. Think signage. And contests where they have to "follow" you to win.
Lastly is Facebook. This can be your virtual gathering place, news feed and photo album--all for free. Facebook encompasses Twitter's and Pinterest's features along with many of its own.
No matter which you choose, just be sure to keep up with it. Many "fans" and "followers" lose interest if you are not updating frequently and providing current material—sort of sounds like your print collection right? We’ll be talking more in depth on these tools in the coming weeks and I would love your feedback on how your library is (or isn’t) using these tools.
Now that you have had a basic crash course on promoting your services to your patrons, next time we can talk about helping them help themselves through the shell shock of the information explosion. The easiest way is giving more via few but functional outlets and media. What are your patrons asking for help with the most? I'd love to know. Please leave a comment below.
Ruth is the Supervisor of Library Services at Tustin Unified School District. Ruth spent most of her childhood at the beach or with her nose in a book—oftentimes both. Though reading and writing are her passions, promoting libraries, librarians, and information literacy is the foundation of her personal and professional objectives.
She lives with her husband and their French Bulldog in Irvine, California. Ruth will also be pinning resources for her Learning Library column on our Pinterest account-http://www.pinterest.com/follettsoftware. You can comment on this blog or follow her on Twitter @AskMissLIS.