Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Article Note: Another one on reaching students with Facebook

Citation for the article:

Mack, Daniel, et. al. "Reaching Students with Facebook: Data and Best Practices." Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship 8.2 (Summer 2007).

Available online here.

This small piece did not tell me a whole lot that I did not know already. Although it is a year old (2007), some of the information on it is already out of date. For example, Facebook now allows organizations to create "pages," which serve to address what you had to do before in making a "profile" for a library. From the looks of it, a good number of libraries have created pages in Facebook; in fact, I am in the middle of investigating and tinkering with making one for our library. In addition, some of the information on the article can be a bit misleading. Facebook does not make it as easy as the authors claim to promote the profile. I have a link on my blog (see the right column) to my FB profile, but unless you are actually registered in FB, you will not see much more than my name. I did explore efforts to see if the public listing (what FB provides for you to create the link) could be enhanced, and so far nothing has come out of it as I can't add much other information. The options are not there. So, you can let people know you are listed, but that is about it. The badge options are fairly limited as well. To make sure, I went back and checked my FB as I was reading the article, and I can attest to my observations.

Other than that, the article is pretty light on the "data." Other than providing a chart of reference transactions for one of the librarians (one of the authors one could assume, since the librarian is never named), there is no other data on FB usage. Most of the article actually consists of a long literature review that mostly cites celebratory and praise types of items to get librarians to use FB. The bottom line is that this article by now is mostly superseded. For example, their optimistic assumptions may be questioned by things like the University of Michigan survey by now, and it is not as substantial as the title leads us to believe. Also, just because students may not value privacy as much, as this article claims, does not follow that is a good thing. Plus, there are articles that may show students do place some value on their online privacy, like this one. So, the article may be ok to look at in order to review any literature available, but for librarians investigating use of Facebook professionally, they need to be reading other things as well.

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