Facebook and Library Patron Engagement – A Question

A graph showing Facebook interaction

Overseeing the creation and maintenance of the library’s social media accounts is one of my many responsibilities. Recently, one of the staff in the Children’s and Teen Services division asked whether we could set up Facebook fan pages for library staff so that staff can communicate with at-risk youth. It seems these teens use Facebook messaging for communication far more than email (which totally makes sense and isn’t surprising), and creating patron-centred services is something the library values very highly.

Yet I’m not sure that creating individual fan pages is the right way to handle this kind of interaction. My question for you is — how does your library handle Facebook messaging between library staff and the public? What sort of best practices have you put into place to ensure that these discussions are captured, tracked, and counted toward your library’s reference statistics?

2 thoughts on “Facebook and Library Patron Engagement – A Question”

  1. A couple thoughts here …

    1. At my library if someone asked that, the answer would be “well, that’s one way to do it. Let’s meet with the department, figure out the goal, and match the best solution to that goal” … or something like that. Try to have them focus on what they want to offer, rather than on a specific tool that might not be made to do that (like setting up individual fan pages for staff).

    2. Right now, we have about 15 or so staff that help with our Facebook Page. They answer any Facebook messages we receive. Soon, we’ll be adding Facebook messaging to our Jabber client, which is used by our Ask a Librarian service. So Facebook will be one more way to ask a question at the library.

    I’d suggest either setting up Facebook Messaging through a client service (like TextaLibrarian or Libraryh3lp, or free via setting up Jabber clients), or setting up a special Facebook Page for YA staff (i.e., a Teen FB Page). Then assign someone to check it every day, etc etc.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Thanks for the response, David. I hadn’t considered tying chat messages to out virtual reference service because it is a consortium effort staffed by libraries across the province. But maybe there’s an interim solution I hadn’t considered. I appreciate the time you took to comment here.

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