I have enjoyed this unit for a number of reasons. The primary reason being that social media seems to be infiltrating just about every aspect of life these days. In fact, social media is used by more than 75% of all internet users (Pew Research Centre, 2013). It’s surely important to learn about it. Another reason is that I enjoy using social media. It’s centred around user generated content that comes from two-way communication (Schwerdfeger, 2013). This means it’s a great way to interact with others online.
I entered this unit with experience in using social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and WordPress. I enjoyed learning about how programs such as these are used by libraries to communicate with library users. This has helped to bring my knowledge of such programs from purely a personal perspective, to one that also includes a professional perspective.
There is no doubt in my mind that this will help me with a hopeful future career as a librarian. Being able to use social networking tools well is essential for any librarian. We are seeing terms like Librarianship 2.0 emerging, where the skills needed to use Web 2.0 technologies (such as those seen in social networking) are paired with the more traditional skills associated with being a librarian (Huvila, Holmberg, Kronqvist-Berg, Nivakoski, & Widén, 2013).
I have also enjoyed learning about some of the social networking tools that are perhaps a little less well known than the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Second Life (a virtual reality site) and Diigo (a bookmarking site) are good examples. I knew next to nothing about either before commencing this unit. As I was less familiar with these tools it has taken me more time to understand them and learn how to use them. I signed up accounts for both and had a good go at each. I even used another social networking form, YouTube, to watch tutorials on how to get started with them. This is a journey that is going to have to continue further before I can fully appreciate their benefit to me in the workplace. As things currently stand, I still don’t see myself jumping in readily to use them in a professional sense. I don’t have the confidence or knowledge for that just yet.
Nor am I completely sold on what they can offer. Both Second Life and Diigo average less than 10,000 monthly Australian users, while Facebook and YouTube average around 15 million (Cowling, 2016). Whatever the reason, Second Life and Diigo have not reached the top tier in terms of usage. However, they still do have their fans, so any librarian who wants to have a more complete picture of the social media landscape must have at least some working knowledge of them.
The social media landscape is ever evolving. The evolution of social networking has even seen the rise of training based social networking sites. Sites such as Fakebook and Kidblog have emerged to meet the educational needs of school children, for example (Davis, 2014). It’s almost overwhelming how many different types of tools are out there. I’m not sure anyone can know them all. However, I do believe librarians in particular require a broad understanding of the many types of social networking tools available. Additionally, a working knowledge of the most popular programs being used would be high advantageous. Such knowledge and skills will leave librarians much better placed to determine what tools could most benefit their library and its users.
I have also particularly enjoyed the opportunity to develop my knowledge in the field of blogging. It was around blogging that I centred my social networking report. A major assessment in this unit. I’d never really considered just how many different ways readers can be encouraged to participate on the blog posts they read, in addition to the comments thread. Polls, surveys and competitions can all be run on a blog (Peck, 2011). Blogs are not the latest social networking tool. However, when you combine such features, with the ability to write in some depth about various topics, I see a long future ahead for blogs.
I have certainly developed a new and much deeper appreciation for social networking, in all its forms. I’m fascinated, and overwhelmed, by how it continues to grow and shape our lives. I’m excited by how social networking can help me and others, both now and into the future, personally and professionally.
Cowling, D. (2016, August 1). Social Media Statistics – July 2016. In Social Media News. Retrieved from https://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics-australia-july-2016/
Davis, V. (2014). A Guidebook for Social Media in the Classroom. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/guidebook-social-media-in-classroom-vicki-davis
Huvila, I., Holmberg, K., Kronqvist-Berg, M., Nivakoski, O., & Widén, G. (2013). What is Librarian 2.0 – New competencies or interactive relations? A library professional viewpoint. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 45(3), 198-205. doi: 10.1177/0961000613477122
Peck, D. (2011). Think Before You Engage. Wiley. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au
Pew Research Centre. (2013, December 27). Social Networking Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/
Schwerdtfeger, P. (2013, March 17). What is Web 2.0, What is social media, what comes next?? (video file). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iStkxcK6_vY