Reaching out to library users
In 2009, the De La Salle University (DLSU) Library recognized that our library users were increasingly using social media. In an effort to better reach and communicate with these users, the library created its official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DLSUlibrary). Four years later, the page has almost 4,000 “likes,” and is one of the library’s primary marketing and reference tools.
The page’s personality comes from a “virtual librarian” named LORA (for Library Online Reference Assistant), who posts comments, shares news and events, responds to online queries, and chats with library patrons. LORA is a smart, trendy and techno-savvy librarian who encourages relaxed, convenient interactions and provides prompt, efficient service.
In 2010, the library set up a Twitter account (@lora_dlsulib) to respond to reference queries and promote its services to the DLSU community and beyond. Tweets related to the library can be found through hashtags and geocode searches, making interaction with users easier.
In 2012, the library started a blog (http://librarynewsette.lasalle.ph) to replace its quarterly print newsletter, allowing speedy posting of news and announcements.
Tracking our usage
A quantitative analysis of the posts and interactions for the library’s social media accounts from the time of their respective inceptions until April 2013 found that 616 people had created stories about the library on its Facebook page, while 4,254 people had seen content related to the page. Seventy percent of the library posts were about the library’s collections or resources.
The most popular post was an invitation to the launch of the DLSU Learning Commons (Facebook statistics indicated 1,503 users were “reached,” 243 “engaged,” and 15 “talking”). A post on QR codes had the highest number of engaged users (484).
The Twitter account included 665 tweets from the library and 149 replies to user tweets, while users retweeted library tweets 266 times and replied 145 times. Most of the tweets and interactions were about users’ personal experiences at the DLSU Learning Commons, the new library building. There were 132 tweets asking for help or support, and the majority of the reference questions were quick reference or technical questions. Each reference question included about four interactions.
Usage of the Library Newsette blog has climbed steadily, with more than 1,500 unique visitors in April 2013, compared to 168 in its first month (see graph).
The most popular post was a promotional one about the library’s new location and name, DLSU Learning Commons, with information on the facilities. Other popular posts included information about library events and online contests.
Addressing social media maintenance
One challenge in using social media is the lack of staff dedicated to its maintenance. Currently, reference librarians respond to queries, and the public programs librarian posts promotional information. To assist in maintaining these accounts, the library is integrating its Twitter account into LibAnswers’ Ask-a-Librarian service, which allows libraries to monitor Twitter messages side by side with other online reference services. It has also introduced mobile applications featuring QR codes and augmented reality, making interaction more interactive and fun for patrons. Other challenges include the issues that need to be considered when crafting a social media policy, including copyright of online materials, internet security, and users’ privacy.
The library is considering creating a New Media Committee to manage social media. And to attract followers and expand the reach of these social media tools, we are looking at holding online contests and inviting guest bloggers to write articles.