Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Social Networking Sites: Changing Roles, Skills and Use by Librarians in Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Social Networking Sites: Changing Roles, Skills and Use by Librarians in Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

Social networking sites (SNSs) have grown astoundingly over the past few years. According to social media statistics, there are over 1.15 Billion Facebook users compared to 700 million in 2011, over 500 million Twitter users compared to 250 million in 2011; over 238 million LinkedIn users compared to 115 million in 2011; and there are over 500 million Google plus users compared to 25 million users in 2011 (Digital Insight, 2013). Libraries of all types including academic libraries around the world are moving towards using social networking sites such as: Blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, Google plus, Instragram, Maship, LinkedIn, Wikis and a host of others. Presently, so many librarians are now using social media to fulfill a variety of objectives, with most of them focused on promotion of library services and resources. Social media is also increasingly being seen as a collection management tool, offering flexible ways to present resources. For example, YouTube for video delivery and is categorized as Folksonomies. Outreach is also seen as important--for example, helping librarians increase their visibility and connections within the broader library community and also for assisting in the promotion of the work of the faculty ... (Taylor and Francis Group, 2014).

In today's social networking era, millions of people are turning to the internet to keep in touch with their friends, family and colleagues. Social networking tools make staying involved quicker, easier and more fun than ever before. These SNSs have millions of users, with ever increasing number of users every day. Farkas (2007a) explained how the social web has led to the birth of what is known as the read/write web or Web 2.0. The author also introduced the term "social software", which refers to any software that lets people have a two-way conversation. She explained that many users spend almost all the time online to visit SNS due to the advantages of those sites, which include:

* allowing people to communicate and build community online;

* facilitating syndication by sharing and reusing; and

* capitalizing the knowledge of others and helping people learn easily.

As the social networking sites become more widespread in the information world, its adoption in the library becomes both interesting and challenging as librarians role will change to satisfying their online community. This study therefore explores the extent to which librarians in tertiary institutions (Universities, Colleges of Education, and Polytechnics) in Nigeria use SNSs. In other to achieve this objective, the researchers set the following research questions to guide the study.

Research Questions

1. Which among the existing social networking sites librarians have account with?

2. For what purposes do the librarians use the social networking sites?

3. To what extent will the librarians rate their level of skills to use SNSs?

4. Through what means do the librarians acquired the skills?

5. What are some of the challenges of using SNSs.

Literature Review

Librarians and Social Networking Sites

Presently, for libraries to go where their patrons are hanging--out, they have started utilizing newer communication channels like blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and now SNSs to extend their reach. Social networking tools enable people to connect, collaborate and form virtual communities via the internet. Social networking sites are those that provide opportunities to interact, they allow visitors to send e- mail, post comments build web content and/or take part in live chats (YALSA, 2011). There are a number of ways that libraries can use social networking tools (5 Minute Guide: SNSs, 2014) for strengthening their services so that they can make the users feel benefited. Libraries can:

* use these social networking tools to mobilize their services;

* create fan clubs, so that the popularity of the library can be measured over time;

* facilitate access to librarians and the library's resources;

* advertise special programs and events;

* highlight parts of the collection, such as new items, to a specific group;

* make users aware of activities relevant to them and the latest library developments so that users can feel excitement and want to visit the library; and

* prove that libraries are not afraid to use cutting-edge technology. …

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