Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Image Sharing

A good start for this post would be with the site Flickr…a photo sharing site that is made possible by the ease with which an individual can upload an image from a camera onto a computer. Similar abilities exist on Facebook and MySpace (discussed in further detail in an earlier post), but Flickr stands apart from these other two in that its sole purpose is the uploading and viewing of images.

Libraries have been joining, as indicated by this thread, and uploading.

Let’s create a list here of libraries that have Flickr accounts. Please list the library name and the Flicrk URL. We’ll compile the entire list here in a few weeks.

Though the initial estimate of ‘a few weeks’ is a little off, seeing as it was posted over three years ago. As recently as 2 days ago, the most recent library joined the sharing; VPL posted their site this past December.

Posting news on library wikis and blogs is mainly focused at the users of an individual library, but images can be viewed by almost anyone and still possess meaning. Sharing images is a way for libraries to connect with their users (the theme of most of the posts on this blog) as well as with each other.

This blog generated a lot of responses when it asked if readers, “know of any examples of a library using Flickr that…are particularly cool.” Of the 19 responses over the two weeks following the initial post, several of the libraries reported using Flickr to show the progress of renovations or remodeling going on the building.  One reported uploading images of programming and another for an art contest.

While users of these individual libraries would have to be familiar with the workings of Flickr to browse their way to these pictures, the libraries can also make the link available on their website. On the Denver Public Library site, they do have a Flickr link, though it is hard to find, thus minimizing its traffic. The University of Michigan’s library Flickr page was much easier to find, and features pictures uploaded by several different members.

The downside to sites like Flickr and Photobucket is how young they are; they’ve yet to be legislated. This leads to uncertainty and, unfortunately, allegations of wrongdoing. This past September, asked the void whether or not libraries should be using Flickr. The response was a bit mixed…one of the replies argued the point that people may be unknowingly photographed, only to have that image picked up and randomly circulated throughout the internet. Another memorable reply rebuked the author for even asking the question, saying:

I think this analysis stinks. Not that it isn’t accurate nor am I to argue any points, however, this kind of thinking is exactly why libraries don’t try new things. We try to play by the book when no one else is. We try to protect user privacy when they don’t care. It cripples us. No one is going to sue me because I put someone’s face on my library’s flickr account. They think it’s awesome!

Part of the enjoyment to be had from these sites is the communal nature of them…a collection of images uploaded by a large number of people will likely produce some good pictures of enjoyable activities. One aspect of Flickr that hasn’t even been discussed here is the tagging of images. Users are enabled to give their images labels, like this author enjoys doing for his blog posts. This concept, tagging, is also a recent development, and a subject unto itself. We’ll just let that go for now.

The moral for dealing with the sensitive nature of taking pictures of people is addressed here, a post also mentioned on that same tametheweb post. The simple way to avoid getting into trouble is to either avoid taking pictures of people that can be identified, or to have some type of disclaimer signed by the would-be subjects of the picture. After that, photos should be good to go up on the web.


Social Networking

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know…

…or so we’ve all heard. In some businesses, networking is crucial. So, given the popularity of social networking sites, how do organizations (meaning, of course, libraries in this case) fit into these sites? Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are commonly cited as examples of these sites, and libraries approach them differently. I’ve linked to their respective pages on wikipedia for informative purposes.

This issue that been discussed time and time again in many different settings, and the likelihood of any new ideas being developed here is fairly low. That said, there is a lot that could stand to be written again, so we’ll look at some of the more important points of the issues.

Though it is unlikely that [insert library name here] would be tagged in pictures of rowdy parties, thus harming its chances for future employment, the integrity of the library must be carefully protected. This doesn’t mean libraries should avoid these communities, just that they should take care to interact with them tastefully. As Lankes, Silverstein, Nicholson and Marshall put it, “Skillful use of identity management will help libraries avoid the baggage of MySpace and Facebook.”

The perceived advantage of these sites is the attraction of younger patrons to the physical library. Some libraries create profiles to link to patrons, and use this as a way of connecting to users. Other libraries will designate specific computer stations for accessing these sites. This article features three libraries that saw some varied results. One library was forced to ban the sites in question from their computers, while two others created profiles of their own and did in fact connect with users.

The library at the University of Alberta took a unique approach by creating a Facebook Application as opposed to a normal profile. This allows their library catalog to be searched from within Facebook, but users must be deliberate about adding the Application. Because the set-up of Facebook allows for a fair amount of customization for individual profiles, this really isn’t a hindrance.

Facebook also serves those who want to be involved but may be unaffiliated with a particular library at a given time:screenshot_lib_2_0_facebook

As it says, the group is intended for the discussion of Library 2.0 concepts and services. This group stands alone from any library, and yet serves the interests of anyone involved with a library.

Twitter, another example of Web 2.0 technology, is being increasingly used by libraries and those in the library community, and for many of the same reasons people supported blogs in the first place:

There are many reasons why libraries should incorporate Twitter into their social networking portfolio: it’s quick, easy, free, creates community, expands the reach of the library, makes the library more accessible, and is great for public relations.

There are those arguing for libraries to choose Twitter over a conventional blog (if blogs have been around long enough to be conventional).

On the evolution of social webbing, we can read about how the use of emails gave way to the creation of websites is giving way to the networking on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re still not convinced, this ‘librarian consultant‘ (which sounds like job title I would come up with) will tell you why libraries should network socially.

In a nutshell, most people end up arguing for inevitability, which can be hard to counter. Something along the lines of, “it’s going to happen because everything that’s already happened is leading to it.” It in this case being the adoption of many types of social networking utilities…some that we don’t even know of yet.