As a keynote speaker of this symposium, Farkas discusses academic libraries and how they may utilise Web 2.0 to improve user services. Other speakers also addressed how basic Web 2.0 applications such as blogs, Twitter, Flickr and so on can be harnessed to attract new users and reflect changing user needs.
Although delivered with academic libraries in mind, this valuable information may also be applied to a secondary school library:
Utilising social media as marketing tools
Using sites such as Facebook, information regarding the library and users can be delivered instantly and can be tailored to attract new users. A solid marketing strategy needs to be devised and maintaining such sites needs to be included in staff job descriptions so that ample time is allocated.
Know your users
At first, this seemed an obvious point as we interact with users on a daily basis. However, one must consider the users not often seen – students who play sport each break, students with learning difficulties, students who consistently have detention, teachers who devote breaks to other activities and so on. Each of these groups may benefit from library services but are otherwise engaged. Here the librarian may need to leave the walls of the library and go where the users are.
Go where the users are
Within a secondary school, the librarian may need to reach users outside of the library. Seemingly the majority of secondary students have a Facebook account and even though blocked at school, students still access their profiles before and after school – not to mention on mobile devices during school hours (school admin is yet to address this issue). Therefore it would seem sensible to maintain a presence where our users frequent.
Users include teachers
It is easy to focus upon student information needs and leave teachers to source their own resources. However, it is advised that teachers also need guidance and provide a link to student needs. If a teacher is aware of all resources and services the library has to offer, then this is also passed on to students.
A school library may seek partnerships with groups within the community to increase quality of service to users. Such partnerships can be promoted using Web 2.0 applications. For example, TAFE or public libraries, apprentice programs or mobile library services.
School library users should also be viewed as participants as opposed to consumers, being invited to suggest, comment and create information via Web 2.0 applications. Farkas recognises that there is a control risk when inviting patron comments publicly although, if monitored regularly, there exists rich opportunity for users to create services specific to their immediate needs.