The YA Department of the Nashville Main Library is an undeniably important part of the teen community in Nashville; what it lacks in social media strategy it makes up for in face-to-face interaction.
However, I truly believe that committing to more social media interaction would highly benefit the patrons of the YA Department; most of them highly support more advanced usage, at least concerning Facebook. However, Twitter is growing, though, for this age group.
Thoughts & Solutions
1. Use the platform; tweak the platform.
According to the interview with Lisa, the library has a social media platform, but again, it doesn’t have much to do with the YA Department. Also, it’s not so much that its in use, but rather, administration has a a document to “prove” that they have “plans” to make the library’s online presence stronger. Commit already! The platform should also be tweaked to allow the YA Department a little more freedom; for example, its own Twitter may be helpful, rather than just a broadcasting of pre-approved tweets from @NowatNPL .
2. Time Management
One of the biggest limitations to improving social media in the YA Department is, of course, time. However, just because there is no “time” doesn’t mean that accounts should be set up and then left alone out in cyber space. Updates don’t have to be every five minutes, but major events, contests, and reminders should be posted. Working out a schedule between YA librarians could be helpful; Hootsuite would also be a great tool for timing and collaboration.
3. Open Communication: Remember the Audience
As mentioned in the platform discussion, the YA Department should be given a little more freedom in managing its own social media. A PR department for 21 library branches as a whole doesn’t seem sufficient to get out the word about the great things going on with the teens. There should be open communication between the different departments within each branch about social media efforts, as the audience for each department is extremely different. The demographics for each branch are vastly different as well; remember the audience. Research and adjust!
Outdated social media cards aren’t enough to encourage interaction online; social media usage should be openly publicized, especially in the YA department.
Even simple posters could encourage interaction!
For example, I saw this poster on my walk to Starbucks a few days ago. Kudos, UPS, for jumping on the bandwagon! Advertise for prospective interaction.
5.Take advantage of patron knowledge.
The teen patrons of the YA Department know tons about social media; they were brought up in an online culture, and this culture keeps growing! If librarians tried to get them interested, I’m sure they would be happy to help out, even if it is just something to put on their resumes for college. Either way, use the manpower resources that are available!
6. If all else fails, hire an intern.
The library offers high school and college internship programs already but not with the YA Department. There may be some liability issues, yes, but in order for the YA Department to increase its reach and effect, time must be allocated to social media tactics and development.
All libraries across the U.S. with YA Departments could definitely benefit from getting on board with this whole social media craze; believe it or not, this is not a fad, and social media is not going anywhere anytime soon.
More and more people rely on suggestions and interactions online that ultimately affect their physical choices.
Even if YA Departments are just about creating a sense of community and fun, rather than attempting to bolster literacy, social media would help bolster that community outside of the library.