Yale University Library: Facebook

According to Michalis Gerolimos’ article “Academic Libraries on Facebook: An Analysis of User’s Comments”  Yale University Library’s had the most “likes” on their Facebook of the twenty university libraries surveyed, with 2149 likes in March 2011.  As of April 1st, 2012 (the day I last looked at the site), they were up to 3,486 likes.  I thought I would take a look at Yale Library’s Facebook site, to see what all the fuss was about.

The link to Yale’s Facebook page is fairly easy to locate.  It is located on the bottom right corner of the library’s homepage.

Like the University of Calgary’s Library, Yale Library uses Facebook’s Timeline.  As previously discussed, Timeline is somewhat difficult to navigate simply because of the amount of stuff on the page.  Unlike the University of Calgary’s library, the Yale library does not divide its Facebook page between user generated and library generated content.   Instead, the Yale library’s posts go down either side of the page, with the library’s “likes” on the top right-hand side.  For new users, I believe this site would be quite difficult to navigate because events, announcements and pictures are all mixed together and seem to be organized only by date.

Through Facebook, Yale University is doing quite a good job of advertising parts of their collection as appropriate.  For example, the library uploaded images from the Visual Resources Collection related to Easter to generate interest in that collection.  It is clear by the number of shares, likes and positive comments that the library is successful in generating interest in the featured items through Facebook.   Yale also uses Facebook to advertise its events, and in that way is marketing its services as event facilitators, but none of the other library services seem to be integrated with the library’s Facebook page. Like the University of Calgary’s library, Yale library’s Facebook page does not announce its services for assisting students with research or assignments.  Instead, these services are advertised on the Yale library’s homepage.   I might add that Yale library’s homepage does not advertise these services as effectively as the University of Calgary does. 

Yale uses Facebook to post some interesting pieces of their collection, and I would certainly be interested in visiting this site to view these posts.  However, I do not believe that I would participate by posting anything new to the site.  I notice that most of the posts on this site are user compliments responding to advertised pieces of the collection, library photos, or event notification, and very little two-way communication seems to be taking place.

Despite the fact that Yale library’s facebook page has one of the highest number of “likes” among university Facebook pages, there is very little in the way of constructive two-way communication between the library and its users.   I read through the posts until the year 2010, and found that the library never directly asked its users for input on how the library could better serve them.  If the goal of implementing tools like Facebook is to create a participatory library as defined in Michael Casey’s blog post , the Yale library should make more of an attempt to generate feedback from its users.  Perhaps creating polls to gather opinions about library services, or simply asking directly for user feedback would accomplish this goal.

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