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Social Media Week at the Queens Library

February 14, 2012

This afternoon, I went to a Social Media Week panel hosted by the Queens Library. Now, usually, I get starry eyed about the NYPL’s social media presence, and the NYPL in general. Unknown to me, though, the Queens Library is doing all kinds of snazzy things with their web presence. 

As part of Social Media Week, they hosted Ushering Your Company into the Social Media Age.It covered the basics, and some more advanced ideas, about putting together a smart social media campaign for a business. Using their own website and social media initiatives as an example.

I really, really like that. The library as a business, using every tool it can, to do digital community outreach, respond to patrons’ needs, even do outreach in other languages. People with tech and publicity backgrounds working with librarians who have MLIS degrees. 

The three presenters were Mary Kearl, the Queens Library Social Media Manager, Karen Keys, an Outreach Librarian (and Pratt alum) and Loida Garcia-Febo, who does outreach to immigrants, and works on multilingual and citizenship programming. 

The Queens Library is culturally fascinating. Queens is the most ethnically diverse county in the US. I’d read about how the library figures out services for all the different languages patrons speak (NYTimes link) And, as Ms. Garcia-Febo talked about social media initiatives as part of other outreach programs, I got to see how they were factoring in other languages as part of the social media strategy. (Drop-down menus to translate the library’s main site to some of the most prevalent languages, and working on content for Facebook in other languages.)

Also, I really, really like the sound of Outreach Librarian. 

Thing I did not know: 1 in 10 Internet users worldwide uses Twitter as of 2011. That’s a lot of hashtags and pithy observations about sandwiches. 

Facebook and LinkedIn are the top two social media sites people use.

The Queens library does outreach to its community libraries (community libraries is what they call branches, a simple word choice that signifies a really interesting shift in organizational thought)

So, ultimately, in a presentation about how and why to build smart social media strategy for business, the Queens library used itself as a case study.

And that makes an interesting point about the public library as a business as well as a site for community engagement, across digital and physical space.

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