INF206 Social Networking for Information Professionals has provided me with an introduction to a wide range of Web 2.0 and social networking applications. As a budding information professional, this subject has allowed me to understand how Web 2.0 applications can be used in many contexts and settings. This report will provide an evaluative and reflective statement on my journey as a social networker and as an information professional.
Since commencement of this subject, an online learning journal (OLJ) was kept in order to track reflections, evaluations and learning experiences of this subject. These activities provided me with an opportunity to explore each topic in-depth along with considering the implications to me as a future information professional.
For the purpose of this evaluation the following entries were selected:
Library Minute Videos
Information professionals in a Web 2.0 world
Delicious: a social bookmarking tool
As a user of two University libraries, as well as an employee at a public library, I found the Library Minute Videos to be an excellent example of a successful social networking tool being used in practice. These were both personal and professional, providing entertainment and relevant information in a timely manner. By using YouTube in this manner, the University of Arizona Library was able to market their services to a broad audience in a creative fashion that engaged the interest of the viewer. Part of the intrinsic value of the Library Minute videos is that they attempt to incorporate the 4c’s of social networking: collaboration, conversation, community and content creation. The major disadvantage is that users cannot participate in content creation. As an information professional, I believe this sort of use of YouTube has potential applications across a variety of businesses as it delivers information to the user effectively. By being exposed to different ways of utilising social networking such as the Library Minute Videos, I have become more aware that as an information professional I will need to explore different ways to meet the needs of users.
As a result of studying this subject, I have gained a much deeper appreciation of the implications of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0. Library 2.0, in essence, is about communication, interaction and connecting with users. As a result, it is about becoming a participatory library service. As noted in my blog post “The information professional in a Web 2.0 world” the skills required of an information professional are a mix of technical and personal skills. I believe that by understanding the needs of users, evaluating and appreciating the range of Web 2.0 tools that are available, the most appropriate one can be selected which results in being a participatory library service.
Although I believe that it will be a challenge in keeping up to date and current with changes in trends and technologies, the possibilities that are offered by emerging technologies are endless. After personal reflection, I believe that I need to be continually thinking of how best to serve my users and what tools are best suited to their needs.
As part of the learning experience the social bookmarking tool, Delicious, was used and evaluated as seen in my post “Delicious: a social bookmarking tool”. I found this to be an extremely useful tool and can see the benefits in the library setting especially for reference services. I can also see it being useful as a professional development aid, in keeping track of articles that are of interest professionally and used as a tool for collaborative learning in sharing links that are of professional interest or education. I have found that throughout this subject it is vital that each tool is assessed and evaluated individually.
At the beginning of this subject I was aware of many social networking technologies such as Second Life, Twitter and Flikr. However, I had little personal experience with these and was only utilising Facebook in a rather limited capacity. As an individual who prefers to spend time socializing in person and values her privacy intensely, this subject allowed me to develop a greater appreciation and understanding for the ways in which such social networking technologies can be harnessed in order to provide better services, open communication and value to users on both a personal and professional level along with the issues surrounding user privacy and trust.
As a future information professional I was able to see how the 4c’s of Web 2.0: content creation, community, communication and collaboration, could occur through the discussions, links and assignment questions on the INF206 Facebook site. By actively sharing information, students were creating content and supplying information they had found informative or relevant. This experience allowed me to develop my understanding of how libraries can participate and encourage online conversation by supplying a forum, whether it is a blog, Facebook or another technology, in which users can form a collaborative community.
However, one of the pertinent aspects of Facebook, or any other social networking technology, is the issue of privacy and trust. As a result of studying the modules, I have begun to understand how a 2.0 Librarian must contend with a variety of issues from an understanding of intellectual property, copyright issues to those surrounding privacy and accessibility. In my future career I understand that these issues must be taken into consideration and the use of a social media policy can assist in regulating these issues.
As a future information professional, one of the most important aspects I feel that this subject has taught me was the point made by Farkas (2008) that a culture of assessment is paramount to libraries embarking into the social networking world. This was also in evidence from the survey conducted by De Rosa et al (2007) who state that the general population surveyed did not see a role for libraries unless it was in the form of notification of new items of interest for them. As a future information professional I am aware that I will need to evaluate and assess the needs of users along with understanding the value of using social networking tools in order to be successful not only in my career but in delivering services that are needed and will enhance user’s experience of the library. A further point that I feel has developed my understanding is a simple one. Farkas states (2007, p. 236) that not all web 2.0 technologies are suitable for all libraries. I feel this is very important to remember as a future information professional as it ensures that the tools chosen will be the most appropriate one/s.
After viewing “A Librarian’s 2.0 Manifesto” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZblrRs3fkSU)
I realised that as an information professional it is part of my responsibility to seek out new technologies, to remain excited about the possibilities and to be enthusiastic about change and seeking out new trends. As Farkas (2007, p. 257) has stated technology is constantly changing and by staying current I will develop my professional capabilities and understanding of how libraries can implement any new technologies in order to provide for their users.
As part of the INF206 experience, I was required to create and utilise an OLJ which was done through Blogger. This gave me an insight into the uses of blogs, professionally and personally. Hammond (2010, p. para 11) found that many libraries have something to say, or something of value to add via blogs but this can also work through other tools. This subject exposed me to blogs such as “Blogging for a good book” which has allowed me to see the uses of blogs within libraries. Blogs are an effective medium when used correctly, especially if it is meeting the needs of the user community. As a “hands on exercise”, the use of a blog has allowed me to see how the technology can be implemented and customised for particular uses and used as a platform (Farkas, 2007, p. 40).
Overall INF206 has taught me that there are great opportunities in implementing social networking technologies within libraries. Through the modules and OLJ activities, I have gained experience in evaluating social networking technologies and have come to understanding that as information professionals we need to experiment and try out new technologies in order to understand them and how they can be applied to the library setting (Stephens, 2006, p. 13).
De Rosa, C. , Cantrell, J. , Havens, A. , Hawk, J. , & Jenkins, L. , (2007). Sharing privacy and trust in our networked world: A report to the OCLC membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. [ebook]. Available from http://www.oclc.org/reports/pdfs/sharing.pdf
Farkas, M. (2007). Social software in libraries: Building collaboration, communication and community online. Medford, New Jersey: Information Today.
Farkas, M. (2008, January 24). The essence of Library 2.0? Blog posted to Information wants to be free: http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2008/01/24/the-essence-of-library-20/
Hammond, S. (2010). Public library 2.0: Culture change? Ariadne (64). Retrieved from http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue64/hammond/
Stephens, M. (2006). Exploring Web 2.0 and libraries. Library Technology Reports, 42 (4), 8-14. Retrieved from http://alatechsource.metapress.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/content/p513w183h736683p