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Observation of student workers (frequently frequenting Facebook! ... Student backlash on University staff, administrators participating on Facebook ...

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Can We Be Friends?

One New Jersey Academic Library’s Experience with Facebook

Harry Glazer

Communications Director

Rutgers University Libraries

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  • College & Research Libraries News article - “Do you Facebook? Networking with students online” Brian Mathews, Georgia Institute of Technology; May 2006

  • Personal contacts’ recommendations

  • Observation of student workers (frequently frequenting Facebook!)

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Facts about Facebook

  • Over 10 million registered users,

    (as of Nov 2006)

  • Over 43,000 people in the Rutgers network,

    includes recent alumni and select staff

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Internal Marketing

  • Recruited Librarian colleague, Julie Still (Rutgers-Camden), as partner to manage the project

  • University Librarian supportive but unfamiliar with the medium; requested a ‘tour’ before approval

  • Tour of Facebook allayed concerns

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Initial Efforts

  • Started September 2006

  • Developed group name and description with Librarian colleague

  • Placed ‘flyer’ ad on Facebook (no known responses)

  • Targeted, recruited group members from leadership of similar minded Facebook groups: Alexander (Library) All-Stars, Booklovers, I work at the Library but I ain’t no Librarian, Thesis on my mind, etc.

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Intensified Recruitment

  • Student workers at RU Libraries

  • Leaders of student government

  • Editors, writers of student papers

  • Leaders of other student groups

  • 120+ members as of Jan. 2007

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Environmental Indicators

  • Negative response to news feeds

  • Student backlash on University staff, administrators participating on Facebook

  • Uneven responses from students to Facebook emails

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Encouraging signs

  • Campus paper ran story on new resources as a result of a “Wall” post

  • Campus paper lauded Libraries’ Facebook page

  • 10% response to pre mid-terms survey on ‘favorite places to study in the Libraries’

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More recently …

  • Experimented with Event invitation, for Feb. 6th exhibition opening; received 21 Maybe and 4 Yes responses – none showed up!

  • 2nd news story on Libraries appeared in campus daily newspaper, due to posting on our group’s ‘Wall’ (re: extended evening hours; 1/17/07)

  • Posted a news story on the regular Libraries website about our Facebook presence – attracted 15 new group members

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Lessons Learned

  • Hard to judge utility of medium as a marketing method;

  • Creativity and brevity essential

  • Online ‘friends’ only solid if friends offline too

  • Relevance of medium in students’ lives is as a social networking site; they don’t go there for academic info or seek it while there

  • Investing $$ in promotion, or recruiting students to help manage the group, may yield more positive & measurable results