RA 4 FB: Reader’s Services on the Social Web

Risks and Rewards of Reaching out to Readers on the Social Web

(On program: From Suggesting to Engaging: Reader’s Services on the Social Web)

Susan Brown, Lawrence Public Library (LPL)

  1. Overview of what has been done at LPL.
  2. Where ideas have come from?
  3. Inspiration to do even more

This isn’t a:

  • Why to do social media
  • How to do social media

“Reader’s advisory is one of the most social services libraries offer. It’s no surprise that talking about books so easily made the leap to the Internet. This discussion is a natural extension of the RA conversation” –Kaite Mediatore Stover

This is a:

  • What to do with social media
  • What to say and how to say it

Lawrence asks lots of questions in its social media.

Marketing is about image: libraries shouldn’t fight books image. Market this — Reader’s Advisory!!

Chris Brogan’s Trust Agents: from his idea, libraries can use social media to be shown as a knowledge agent with books and reading. Susan has directed the social media efforts at LPL to reflect this idea.

LPL started a conversation by asking questions on social media, especially Facebook. Lots of involvement here. Every Sunday the library asks, what are you reading?

Build user involvement virtually much easier than in person — and connects with other readers.

Other questions:

  • Best of the Year Book?
  • What’s the most romantic book you’ve ever read?
  • What’s the most ___ book you’ve ever read?
  • Timely questions
  • What did you get for Christmas — paper? audio? electronic?
  • Favorite nonfiction?
  • “Hidden gem?”
  • Favorite holiday movie.

Makes people think of the library in a different way. And the responses are mixed gender.

On social media, you reach out to a different group of library users.

Don’t want to be snarky — but don’t want to take yourself too seriously.

Repurpose content that you’ve done on social media: take a question and its responses and make a blog post, or a bookmark.

Social media: mobile user-friendly: link directly into catalog so people can put holds on a book.

Some questions will tank; others will succeed. Lots of factors for why that happens.

Share book news so people can see that the library is an expert in books and reading:

Early Word blog and Huffington Post books section two good sources

Crowdsourcing from fans/friends/followers: they can share ideas on your wall or stream as well. Even authors and businesses.

Doing Social Media So It Matters: A Librarian’s Guide rec’d book for librarians.

LPL helps readers find their next book through Facebook.

Chat or in-person recs aren’t public. Helping readers find their next book through social media: it’s public, everyone benefits!

Can get into deeper conversations through social media you never could face-to-face at a desk.

LPL has fun!


We ask questions, similar to ones on Facebook. But, it’s a different platform. Laura Solomon’s book on Social Media has great examples of what works on FB and Twitter.

Be a knowledge leader? Twitter is great for this. Post teasers — not just regular statements. Make fun, fresh, interesting. Easy fast — makes you look up things.

Early Word is good for seeing who’s going to be on the media.

Google Reader RSS feeds for Local Book Bloggers in Lawrence: library posts their posts to Twitter.

We suggest books. Must be concise and creative in your posts.

Facebook and Twitter: can plug into Pop Culture with your posts.

We tweet about more than fiction. Linking to catalog searches in their posts.

We deliver traditional RA.

We offer backstage passes — give them something special. New orders tweeted just before posted to website.

We empower readers — tweets about databases.

We have fun.

Susan’s slides will be online.


Commitment of time; attention; staff. Have to listen AND respond. Blows up the RA desk; Crowdsourcing RA. Everybody on staff can recommend.


No focus on RA in the building. Virtual RA desk. Ongoing conversations. Stretch RA skills. Regular users of this medium. New demographics reached. Four articles written about the library in 2011 summer after 0 in 2010. Library now seen as the place to talk and books and reading in lawrence and connect with them.