Welsh libraries and social networking

If you’re looking for some summer reading for your hols, I can recommend a report that is all about Welsh libraries, has interesting quotes as well as pretty graphs and charts. (Bias alert – I’m a co-author of the report.)

There is a lot of discussion in library land about social media (or social networking, or the interactive web – or in 2010 jargon ‘Web 2.0’). One of the key issues for librarians is that of access, or lack thereof.

Pic from CC Geek and Poke

Librarians are, in general, forward-looking professionals keen to improve customer service whenever possible, seeking new ways to engage with customers, or attract new people to their services. Yet many are currently prevented from using social media because of institutional barriers. Other librarians want to engage with discussions taking place in library land in blogs and Twitter but they can’t, because access is blocked.

Therefore, working with the library marketing project officers we surveyed Welsh libraries back in spring 2010 on a range of issues to do with Web 2.0 things and produced this cross-sector report as a result.

Although it’s now a year old, and things move fast in computing terms, I think the picture is still roughly the same for most Welsh libraries. Our research found that whilst university libraries are unrestricted in terms of social media, librarians in further education colleges and public libraries are often prevented from accessing social media, even for work purposes. This is as consumers (e.g. reading a library blog) as well as creators (writing a library blog). In addition, library users may be restricted from accessing certain websites or types of social networking tools.

With this information and more besides, the marketing project officers and colleagues in CyMAL are planning relevant training for staff in social media tools. At a strategic level we also need to be having discussions with parent bodies (e.g. local authorities) to explain the benefits of access to social media and dispel some of the myths about what might happen if staff had such access.

As a first step for me I am going to share (soon!) a relatively generic business case document which you can use to present if you are seeking access to social media tools for work purposes. It worked for me!

Let me know if you have any views on this, or on the report.

About alysontyler

Civil servant, yoga teacher and former librarian.
This entry was posted in Research, Social media & social networking, Wales. Bookmark the permalink.

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