Library activities cannot seamlessly be translated to social media space. Many issues arise or are made more volatile by the virtual space. One such issue that arises is the loss of library branding. Patrons who visit the library in person are actively immersing themselves in the library environment. This brings with it a certain level of openness to marketing events and library services. However, patrons who participate in virtual library activities are primarily utilizing social media, and only secondarily utilizing the library. As such, marketing efforts need to be in line with the patrons’ primary interests in using social media.
Another issue is patron privacy. Most social media websites are constantly harvesting data about users. In light of this, libraries are forced to balance education and awareness of site practices with patrons’ motivations and interests in utilizing the sites. Is it a library’s role to protect the privacy of patrons’ reading choices and opinions when using social media?
When conducting online activities, it may be difficult to understand when and if a host community is participating in its local library’s online activities. Libraries should strive to interact more with underserved patrons, but it can be difficult to identify whether active patrons are within the intended service population. Is it even ethical for libraries to target their local patrons for social media activities?
All of the issues mentioned presuppose that patrons are actually interested in participating in library-organized online activities. The passive nature of social media may well disincline patrons from participating. And if there is interest, it would be difficult for that interest to be paced like a regularly meeting book club. This brings up all sorts of difficulties of scope and spoilers which could anger or frustrate the library’s social media patrons.What other issues are there? Do you think that these issues can be conquered? If so, how?
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