Thursday, September 20, 2012

On Facebook

Wow, so it appears to me that Facebook is extremely important in the world of libraries these days.  The changes that Facebook has brought upon society in the past few years are far reaching, yet while endlessly scrolling down through brief snip-its of ideas posted by everyone you've ever known and perhaps even by some you've never even met, it is all too easy to forget that basically nothing that's real has changed.  Facebook has created an alternate reality in which we are able to access the ideas of our friends, enemies, acquaintances, and economic interests at will.  It can sometimes feel as though you know someone well when you've only rarely met them face to face.  It can create the perception that you can read the minds of the collective masses.  It can make you feel closer to friends and family with whom you haven't spoken with in years.  It can wordlessly reconcile differences, and it has been know to create social rifts as well.  It is a powerful social tool, especially when combined with the ability to carry access to the Internet in your pocket, known as Web 3.0.

At this time, I'm not convinced that Facebook is important to libraries because hoards of library patrons are befriending their favorite libraries and acting on the posts they see.  Perhaps that may be true in some very well funded libraries with adequate professional time available to greet educated patrons at their point of need.  Rather I see the value of Facebook in public libraries as an essential communication tool that bridges gaps in communication between library professionals.  When public librarians are able to view the work of their colleagues in a social networking setting, they can discretely observe and learn from successes in our profession as well as collectively find ways to improve upon less successful aspects of library work.  This daily interaction has the potential to be revolutionary in our field.