Saturday, May 19, 2007

Going Where Patrons Are: Outreach in MySpace and Facebook

Meredeth Farkas, "Going Where Patrons Are: Outreach in MySpace and Facebook," American Libraries 38 (4): 27 (April 2007).

Libraries have a long tradition of bringing services wherever their patrons are located, through such approaches as bookmobiles and branches in strip malls and community centers. This has also become the ease in the online world. While most libraries have their own websites, some are also starting to push their services to the online sites at which patrons congregate.

Library services are usually not the first thing people think of when they hear about MySpace and Facebook. Regardless of what many people may think of these social networking sites, they are extremely popular with high schoolers and college-aged individuals, who are using the space to build identity and connect to friends online.


Last year, some public and academic libraries started building a presence in MySpace and Facebook by creating profiles. Some are designed to increase the visibility of the library and to make it seem more relevant to young patrons. Others actually provide library services within the confines of the profile.


The online world has opened up so many opportunities for us to embed library services into spaces our constituencies may visit. It makes sense to look at what social software sites our patrons frequent and how we can provide services there. Just like putting a library branch in a strip mall, creating presence in social networking software makes the library more visible and more convenient to access.

MEREDITH FARKAS is distance learning librarian at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. She blogs at "Information Wants to Be Free" and created "Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki." Contact her at

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