Saturday 29 June 2013

Event Recap: Social Media in Libraries

Last Thursday Mylee Joseph, Project Leader, Innovation Project at the State Library of New South Wales, gave a fantastic talk at Customs House for a City of Sydney event about social media in libraries.

Mylee talked about the three opportunities for libraries with social media: discovery, engagement and collecting.

One of the attendees, Joachim Cohen, has put together a Storify of the event, which is well worth checking out. Mylee will also make her presentation available on Slideshare.

Below are just a few highlights from my notes:


Commander Chris Hadfield's use of Twitter when he was on the International Space Station was historical in many ways. There were some great moments of engagement, such as William Shatner tweeting to ask if he was really in space, not to mention his version of Space Oddity, which had 22,630 retweets.

He also used reddit successfully. But Mylee emphasised that libraries shouldn't try to get into everything. Instead, choose a platform that suitable for the material you want to share, and is something your target audience uses.

For example, Google Hangouts can be great for author events, especially if they're in a different time zone. The interview can be held live on air and recorded for later viewing on YouTube.


Social media is ephemeral, so libraries have a place in keeping this record for future generations.

The Vatican archived Pope Benedict XVI's tweets, showing the importance of this record. The archived tweets can be seen alongside the Twitter feed of current Pope Francis' tweets.

There were 500,000 tweets about last week's #spill. Collecting so much information can be difficult, but could be useful to researchers.


Flickr's The Commons is a way for cultural institutions to make their collections discoverable: the State Library has 1795 images, with well over 7.73 million views and 8933 people connected as contacts.

The Historypin app is being used heavily by the State Library as a way of allowing people to view historical photos of places where they are.

Creating or updating Wikipedia entries using the State Libraries holdings is a great way of sharing information about significant people or events. Two examples are an article on the Aboriginal Australian World War I soldier Douglas Grant, and an article on the recent DIY rainbow crossing movement in Sydney.

More Engagement

The State Library has had much success with Pinterest- their most popular board is HSC: Researching beyond Google.

Mylee advised libraries to be careful with what they repin- try to find the original source (and consider asking the original artists if you can pin their work).

When asked about the people needed, Mylee emphasised the need for a team-based approach. The marketing team are good at promoting events, but there also has to be people listening and (quickly) responding to questions and comments. At the State Library there is a 'coalition' of people authorised to respond via Twitter on behalf of their section.

Amy Croft

1 comment:

  1. The notes from the presentation