University of Calgary Library: Facebook

March 30, 2012

The University of Calgary Library’s Facebook page was extremely easy to find.  The Facebook button is located beside the other social software buttons (Twitter, Flickr and RSS) in the bottom center of the page.  When I initially entered the library’s homepage, the picture in the center took a moment to load, so the “social buttons” were in the very center of the page, and immediately caught my attention.  I am not sure if this was intentional, but it certainly made the presence of the “social buttons” very obvious.   Just in case you happen to miss the buttons in the very center of the page, they are also visible in the top left corner.

The Univeristy of Calgary Library uses Facebook’s Timeline, and I would say that I am in agreement with Alma Mater’s number two reason for disliking timeline: “It’s too much on the eyes.  There’s so much going on I don’t even know what to see and what not to”.  Timeline is very busy, and it takes a while to figure out exactly what it is you’re looking at.  Timeline, of course, is not the library’s design, so they can’t really be faulted for its poor layout.

In fact, the library has divided the timeline wall in a way that makes a great deal of sense.  On the left hand side, the library posts their own announcements, and on the right, posts and recommendations made by others are listed.  This makes the page a great deal easier to navigate.  In a later post, I will discuss the Yale Library’s Facebook page, which is not so clearly organized.

The University of Calgary Library advertises its new services on the announcement side of its Facebook page.  For example, on March 2nd the library made the announcement that  materials s from the Military Museum could now be requested and delivered to the library.  However, longer-standing services are not mentioned on the library’s Facebook page. Their services, such as book a librarian, writing consultations, research guides and workshops, are advertised centrally on their homepage.  Library services, then, are not integrated into the library’s social network, but are well advertised none the less.

If I were a patron of the University of Calgary’s  library, I would definitely use their Facebook page to check for announcements, and if I had a specific question or comment about the library, I might also post it on this site.  I noticed that in some cases users helped each other to answer questions.  On January 31st, a user asked about how to use the chairs in the library, and another user responded with a link to the chair instructions.   Librarians also responded to user comments. On October 25th, a library user complained about the lack of seating in the library, and was answered two days later by a librarian who said they had added more seating.  As a user, viewing these conversations between users and librarians would encourage me to participate.  Though there is not a huge amount of conversation going on in this Facebook, I believe this site has taken some steps in accomplishing the goal that Michael Stephens sets out in “The Hyperlinked Library”  by “[c]reating connections and community for library users…”

In his blog post “Revisiting Participatory Services in Trying Times”,  Michael Casey defines the participatory library as one that “…engages and queries its entire community and seeks to integrate them into the structure of change”.  The library’s Facebook site does a very good job of asking users about specific issues that the library has already targeted for change, such as the design of the library website or the display messages above the library service desk.  However, the “recommendations” area, which gives the opportunity for users to generate their own thoughts on the library and possible changes, seems quite ineffective.  In the “recommendations” area, there are only two comments and both of them are complements.  While complements are always nice, no real recommendations are given.  Perhaps this section should be re-phrased and given a more specific title such as “What would you change about the library?”  or “What can we do better?”.  Titles that include a question may be more effective in generating actual recommendations.