Tanin's Blog

November 26, 2009

“Share & Bookmark” the Seattle Public Library

Filed under: Public Libraries — tanin @ 5:22 am

The Seattle Public Library has 199 widgets, hidden inside a little button, called “Share & Bookmark,” at the bottom of its homepage.

I tried a few of those—Y! Mail, Facebook and WordPress, and this is what I found:

  • By signing on to Yahoo! Mail through the SPL, I can email the SPL homepage to those on my email list.
  • By signing on to Facebook through the SPL, I can share the SPL homepage with my Facebook friends.
  • By signing on to WordPress through the SPL, I can write my blog post about the SPL with its name as the title and its name and link as a part of the post—which is what I’m doing right now.

So the SPL’s approach tosocial media turned out to be quite different from that of the MPL. The MPL “participates” in social media.  For example, in Facebook, the MPL has a presence like any individual user, and interacts with its “friends” that way. It talks about the hours of the library during Thanksgiving, and encourages its “friends” to come by and pick up special recipes.

The SPL “uses” social media as media (or tools) to publicize itself. It does not try to assume a “persona,” but instead puts out decks of business cards which can be picked up and distributed among friends. (Like restaurants that display their cards at the cashier’s register. “Did you like our food? Take these cards and tell your friends about us!”)

I feel the librarians of both the MPL and the SPL are doing a wonderful job. They all seem sensible.

Ask a Librarian 24/7

Given the small size of Monterey (30,161 in 2006), I think the MPL is right in trying to attempt to “establish rapport” with its community through a more intimate and personal engagement via Facebook and Flickr. (See “Facebook and Rapport” by The Other Librarian.) On the other hand, for a large city library such as the SPL with 27 branches, it makes good sense that the library maintains its integrity through its homepage. It also offers personalized service through “Ask a Librarian” for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

However, if I were to be in a position to choose between the two approaches, I would probably opt for the SPL’s. As some of my classmates pointed out in our online class discussion, my biggest concern is time. Engaging in social media definitely takes up time and energy. Another important thing to consider is the percentage of library users who involve themselves in social media. If the percentage is small, wouldn’t it be better to “delete the accounts” and redirect the energy and time for some other important functions of the library that can benefit the majority of users? (See #10 of “Ten Social Networking Tips for Libraries” by LibrarianInBlack.)

* The images are in the public domain, as confirmed by the Seattle Public Library.



  1. Hey,

    Just wanted to point out that the Seattle Public Library, in addition to offering the widgets you point out, also maintains a Facebook page:


    And two library blogs, one for general interest (http://shelftalk.spl.org/) and one for a teen audience (http://blog.spl.org/yablog/).

    I think that in today’s world, it is really important to be relevant locally to your community and to provide the tools of participation and sharing that have become standard in online environments.

    Just as a side note, you should also take a look at the widgets in the library catalog!

    Comment by Toby — November 29, 2009 @ 5:31 pm | Reply

  2. Thank you for your kind assistance. I will look at the other Facebook page and the blogs that you pointed out.

    Comment by tanin — November 30, 2009 @ 7:09 am | Reply

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