Thursday, September 27, 2007

Facebook and the media librarian

There's been an awful lot of column inches of late dedicated to the "valuable business tool" that is Facebook, but does anyone genuinely believe its anything more than an enjoyable exercise in time-wasting/stalking? What use, if any, can it be put to in the context of media librarianship?

There's a school of thought that we should be on Facebook simply because its there, and that to fail to keep abreast of the latest developments in Web 2.0 is to risk becoming outdated and irrelevant. But to adopt this argument is to encourage the blind adoption of whatever latest intetnet craze the "kids" are talking about. Without relevant application there's little or no point to that shiny new pod cast, RSS Feed or (cough cough) blog.

So what practical use can Facebook be put to?

Its important to remember that Facebook is fundamentally a social networking tool: its natural territory is the embarassing drunken photograph, the "witty" wall post and the ever popular "poke". However this format also lends itself to the exchange of ideas and the accumulation of contacts. To give one example, I used my status to ask about popular news-blogs, and within an hour I'd been sent an extensive list of favourites from friends and acquaintances I'd never have thought of asking in person.

Also, it shouldn't be underestimated just how many journalists are falling for their own hype: Guardian News and Media and the British Broadcasting Corporation both have their own Facebook networks, as do numerous American media associations. These networks provide us with a link to our users, and effective social networking can lend us a heightened profile amongst them.

Another useful tool offered by Facebook is the ability to form groups centred around common interests. "media librarians and proud of it" could prove a useful forum, as could "Librarians and Facebook."

In short, Facebook could prove an important tool in networking, sharing information and promoting our services. These opportunities should not be overlooked.