Between tweeting, pinning, posting, sharing, liking, and uploading, the Ohio University Libraries has earned a distinction that no other college or university has until this year. The Libraries’ and its staff are being celebrated for their commitment to listening, engaging and conversing with their audiences through social media after being ranked #33 on LibraryScienceList.com’s 100 Most Social Media Friendly College & University Libraries for 2013.
Alden Library was specifically applauded for its presence on Pinterest. According to LibraryScienceList.com, “Alden Library has some interesting boards on its Pinterest account, such as ‘Famous Visitors to OU & Athens,’ ‘College Life in the Movies,’ ‘Hispanic American Heritage Month,’ and ‘Top Banned/Challenged Books 2000-2009.’”
Janet Carleton, digital initiatives coordinator, and her students curate historical content into easily digestible bits, like the Twitter account of OHIO’s first female alumna, Maggie Boyd, which contains diary entries in the form of tweets that reveal Ohio University student life in the 1870s.
“Students seemed to delight in the instances where their world and hers intersected, for example, a snowy day both in 1873 and 2012, where Maggie complained about the effort to get to class for a lackluster lecture,” said Carleton.
To determine ratings, the staff at LibraryScienceList.com researched the popular social media platforms, searching for the most active libraries throughout the nation. Specifically, they looked at how these libraries used social media to promote library events, notify students and community members of new materials, or interact in other ways. The result was a list of 442 colleges, which were evaluated on their level of activity on various social media platforms.
Ohio University Libraries earned an overall score of 79.1 and is ranked #21 for its Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest presences and #9 for its YouTube presence, which ranked higher than Syracuse, MIT, Cornell and University of Southern California.
According to LibraryScienceList.com “the highest possible score is 100, with 32 total points for Facebook, 25 for Twitter, 18 for YouTube, 7 for Pinterest, 4 for Google Plus, and 14 for Flickr.”
As Jessica Hagman, reference and instruction librarian, explains, the Ohio University Libraries uses social media to share information and direct students, faculty and staff to resources, among other things. When a student joked about the Libraries’ new “7-story sauna” on Twitter, referring to Alden Library on one of its hotter days, the Libraries playfully agreed with the tweet saying, “This is a very positive spin on the situation :) Facilities staff are working on getting the temp down, we promise.”
“It’s essentially another way to get feedback because people say things on Twitter or Facebook that they wouldn’t necessarily come up and tell us,” said Hagman. “It’s a way to be there and hear what people are talking about.”
She recalls a student once tweeting, “@AldenLibrary you are really letting me down with your archives.” This immediately prompted a successful quest to find the needed resource through a Twitter conversation between the student and the librarians.
Beyond assisting the community, the Libraries also enjoys using social media to give a face to the people who work there.
“The Library isn’t just four walls, books, computers, and online journals and databases. It’s the people that work there who are the best assets and resources that we have,” said Chad Boeninger, head of reference. “Social media allow us to bring the people that work in Alden to the forefront, whether it be through our personal interactions on Twitter, or seeing our faces on our YouTube videos.”
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