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Investigating the Facebook Generation: A Case Study on the Nashville Library’s YA Social Media Tactics—Part V

The Basics

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!

4. Publicize.

Outdated social media cards aren’t enough to encourage interaction online; social media usage should be openly publicized, especially in the YA department.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.

Final Musing

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.


Investigating the Facebook Generation: A Case Study on the Nashville Library’s YA Social Media Tactics– Part II

An Interview with Lisa Schutt: NPL YA Librarian

Lisa, a former high school teacher, now works at the Teen Desk at the Nashville Main Library. Her bubbly and relaxed personality is extremely welcoming, and the teens there seem sincerely interested and comfortable in chatting with her and participating in craft time.

On November 17, 2011, I had the opportunity to talk with her spontaneously about the library’s current stance on social media and its use in the YA department.

Ironically, Lisa explained the main library had just recently had a meeting about improving its presence online, specifically concerning Facebook and Twitter.

Lisa believes that social media gives librarians more access to patrons and supporters than ever before, especially concerning library philanthropy.

But what about the YA Department?

There is a core group of students that come to the Teen section after school virtually every day; Lisa thinks that using social media would be a great tool for “keeping up” with this core group, but there are some issues.

Time resources are incredibly limited in the  YA department. Lisa explained that the library has a “social media platform,” but it is difficult to find someone who can dedicate his or her time to it.

She asserted that “unless you go into it with a genuineness,” social media isn’t going to be effective.

“Cobwebs”

The current social media situation at the library, specifically with its Teen Web Blog, has been in “cobwebs,” according to Lisa.

However, there is work being done to correct this, as the blog has become active again.

What are the kids into these days?

With a variety of socioeconomic classes represented in the YA department in downtown Nashville, teen social media usage here is probably an accurate description of the online engagement of teens ages 12 to 18.

Lisa hears a lot of chatter about Facebook from the teens and a little about Myspace as well.

“Twitter? Not so much,” she said.

Surprising? I thought so too. [More about Twitter in Part IV]

The Wonder of Facebook

For the YA Department of NPL, Lisa believes that Facebook is and will be the most useful. From events to funny blurbs and inside jokes, Facebook offers the best possible connection to the teens at the library.

However, this is not the PERSONAL Facebook account of any of the librarians; Lisa, as well as others, want to keep personal life separate from work.

The open communication with Facebook events could potentially increase event attendance as well; according to Lisa, if the teens get to see that their friends are “attending,” the programs will become “less scary.”

Learning from Lisa

The library has a platform for social media, which is a great start, but more importantly, it should be implemented.

The limitation in implementation? Time resources. This seems to be the biggest problem for in social media strategy– time commitment.

What’s Next?

Part III will reflect a very different view of social media and the YA Department of the library through an interview with James McClanahan, Teen Program Coordinator.


Investigating the Facebook Generation: A Case Study on the Nashville Library’s YA Social Media Tactics–Introduction

In trying to decide on a topic for exploration for my Social Media and PR class, I finally landed on an idea that was close to my heart—the YA, or Teen, department of the Nashville Downtown Library.

I spent all of my afternoons in high school walking the short 2 blocks from my antediluvian school building to the library; in a herd of my friends, we spent hours in the study rooms there and even participated in the Teen Library Council (see photo below) that helped plan events and make suggestions for the department.

At the time, between 2005 and 2009, though, we never really utilized social media, although we were all heavily addicted to Facebook.

It’s a strange, nostalgic experience to reflect on high school happenings, especially as a Junior in college; however, the library was a great inspiration that kept me on the right path to success in planning my education and career.

This personal connection inspired me to take a look into the Young Adult social media strategy at the Nashville Downtown Library.

This post functions as an introduction to a five-part exposé and analysis of the Teen Department’s use of social media.

1. First, I’ll explain how YA social media is functioning now.

2.Second, I’ll be relaying an interview with Lisa Schutt, a YA librarian at the Downtown Branch.

3. Shortly following, I’ll present an interview with James McClanahan, the Teen Program Coordinator.

4. Then I will be posting and analyzing the interviews with some core patrons—the teens!

5. Finally, I will be giving my own suggestions for a social media strategy, or at the very least, some concepts to consider.

Stay tuned over this next week for some thought-provoking reading about the next generation’s use of social media and the true function of our precious libraries as a whole!

Do you know the true function of a YA department? What are teens using it for? How are librarians staying connected with them?
Keep updated with

“Investigating the Facebook Generation: A Case Study on the Nashville Library’s YA Social Media Tactics.”