The Internet is replete with blog posts and news stories about the ways in which libraries are changing to meet the needs of the 21st century student. In fact just this month, The Post wrote about Alden Library’s renovations, which will better support the large and growing number of students who spend their days (and nights!) studying in the Library.
Beyond the changes to library buildings, we also see increasingly digital collections and communication strategies for patrons and library staff alike. While librarians have always collaborated with members of the OHIO community seeking information resources, we’ve been delighted to make connections with students, alumni and staff in a new way over the past decade through social media.
We found this #heart, printed on both sides and appearing to come from another book, between pgs. 142-3 of "The Roman Empire: From the Monarchy of Constantine the Great, to the Taking of Rome by Odoacer, and the Ruin of the Empire in the West." Our #FromTheVault copy is missing its #titlepage, but we think it was published in London by T. Basset, W. Crooke & W. Cadman in the 1700s. #foundinabook #foundinalibrarybook
According to a news story in the State Library of Ohio written by OHIO librarians, lorraine wochna and Derek Malone, Alden Library’s Facebook page debuted on November 19, 2007 following a short-lived experiment with MySpace. By 2010, the account had grown to more than 500 followers and the library had joined Twitter as @AldenLibrary.
The social media world has become increasingly image and video-centric, so we also added an Instagram account. Many of our users likewise enjoy the thematic digital collections from the University Archives created by our Digital Initiatives team (also on Twitter!). By 2014, the Libraries formalized the social media sharing process by creating a social media team, of which I am coordinator.
As someone who started working as a librarian at the very beginning of the social-media age, I often marvel at the new ways that social media affords us to connect with current students and staff and to bridge the gap between the Libraries and alumni around the world.
We, of course, still use traditional media to let the Ohio University community know about the Libraries’ resources, services and events for their own research and creative endeavors. But using social media also means that we can capture the beauty that is the Athens campus at dusk, delight alumni with a #ThrowbackThursday photo that recalls the time they spent on campus, and share with a wider audience the unique and rare materials from the Mahn Center through our #FromTheVault photos on Instagram (including the example above of a cut-out heart found between the pages of a book from the 1700s).
With a live Facebook video, we can provide better insight into the many different ways that library staff work to connect the OHIO community with information for discovery, intellectual growth, and the advancement of knowledge; whether it’s developing an exhibit (like librarian Sherri Saines below discussing an exhibit on her research and creation of 18th century women’s caps), preserving precious historic documents, managing the complex infrastructure that is the physical library space, or working with students to build their research skills.
Most of this work would still be recognizable to librarians of decades past, even if they would be surprised to see information become increasingly digital. But unlike our fore bearers, we now have the ability to share that work with both those members of our community who visit the Libraries on a regular basis, and those who may never even set foot on the Athens campus.
In celebrating the Libraries 10-year social media anniversary, we look ahead to the future as we reflect on how far we’ve come in the past. Given how quickly social media and the information technology landscape is changing, I have to wonder whether we’ll still be using these networks in another ten years, or if we’ll have moved on to even more powerful ways to connect with the OHIO community.
I wouldn’t hazard a guess about what form social media will take in the next decade, but I’m confident that future students, faculty, and alumni will continue to find library staff sharing their information expertise with the OHIO community and beyond.