Monday, July 16, 2012

Public Libraries and Facebook Don't Mix...

"You Can't Make Me Like You."

Okay, let me get this out of the way, I hate Facebook, I detest it.  People get too comfortable on it and they gain a false sense of entitlement from it.

Someone on my SLIS school's listserv blasted everyone with a request: "Check out my library's Facebook page and make sure to 'Like It.'"  Why?  Begging for FB-likes is an endless circle jerk in the hopes of feeding an asinine need for online "popularity."  Libraries love their stats: door counts, circ's, program attendance; it's their number one asset in the yearly battle of budgets.  Keeping track of FB-likes means NOTHING.  Budget Committee: "Ooooh, the library has 239 likes, well here's more money!"

I know libraries are trying to be "hip and cool" and "where the patrons are at."  But libraries being on FB just because is much worse than not having a presence at all.  Now libraries are adding their catalogs to their FB pages.  What the hell.  That's what the library webpage is for.  Every single library has their own webpage, USE IT.  When FB goes the way of Myspace/Friendster/Hi5, libraries that have neglected their own webpages will be scrambling to sign up for the next ALA session on "Revitalizing Your Library's Webpage."  If you rely more on FB for interacting with your patrons than the library's own webpage YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG.

My biggest problem with FB should seem like any public library's as well, but in their vain attempt to remain relevant, whatever the hell that means, they seem to throw caution to the wind when it comes to privacy.  Just 10 years ago the ALA and libraries were circle jerking about how they were the last bastions of user privacy in a post 9/11 world.  Do you know what FB completely sucks at?  Yeah, so I guess libraries are hardcore when it comes to sticking it "To The Man" (government), but sell out when it comes to "The Other Man" (corporations), even though it is harder to distinguish one between the others nowadays.

Numerous patrons have asked me if the library kept records of their checkouts, much to their relief I answered, "No."  Did I suspect these patrons of wrong-doing, no, they just respect their privacy.  The library can't have it both ways, you cannot claim to be on the patron's side in the fight for privacy when you are on a website that continues to violate user privacy (FB now scanning "private chats").

If you use a "free" service that doesn't charge you anything, than YOU are the one being sold.


  1. Okay, so for a counterpoint argument: in order for us to get anything posted to our library website we have to basically harass our IT department to update it for us. Our page/website is part of the village website (yes, they still call themselves a village instead of a city..) and we can't really do anything to it to make it stand out or look different from any other department page.

    So, we're lucky if we can get our Summer program schedule on the website once a year. For us, FB is useful cause its something we can update ourselves daily or weekly.

    Also, I did try doing a library blog/website that we had set to the homepage on all our public access computers. But that didn't really take off as planned. As everyone and their dog has a FB account, it is of course easy to say, "Hey, check us out on FB!"

    But I totally get ya on the creepy privacy issues and all that.

    Anywho, sorry for the novel! :)

    1. I was stuck in library-lala-land, assuming that most libraries had their own dedicated IT team at their whim. I can see how FB is useful in your situation.

      It is not guaranteed that FB will be around or as popular in the future and I hope your library's webpage will get the recognition and resources it deserves.