The topic of library Facebook applications having been thoroughly explored by numerous library bloggers over the past year or so, most of this post will be no revelation. That said, because it’s based on some preliminary feedback we’ve gotten from a monster (as in 3400 responses and counting) student technology survey we’re administering at OU this quarter I feel obliged to write about it a bit.
Among other things, we’re finding from our survey that our students are much likelier to welcome library search/discovery applications in Facebook than in MySpace. Why? Simply, most of our respondents don’t really seem to use MySpace very much anymore. Because they spend a huge amount of time in Facebook anyway, many seem to think a library application would be “convenient.” That said, a roughly equivalent number of respondents definitely don’t want to use a library app in Facebook, citing that they’d like to keep that space separate from school activities (again, not a revelation). That an equivalent percentage of our students would welcome a Facebook app to those that wouldn’t is what surprised me.
Seeing that downloading such an application is not compulsory, it stands to reason that if our population is representative of other campuses (and we are the apotheosis of average, by the way) library Facebook apps are likely to be well used by supporters and inoffensive to those who would rather keep their pages library-free. Maybe usage and download statistics from libraries who have developed examples of these confirm this? I’m curious.
Also, and this is really interesting – over half of Facebook-using respondents have added at least 1-5 applications to their profiles, meaning that in this context they are becoming quite comfortable with the idea of interface customization and relying on task-specific mini applications. Thankfully, the development process seems to be accessible even to those with minimal programming experience – yesterday Digital Web Magazine published an awesome how-to on creating Facebook apps…
Thanks for sharing these results Char. The should-we-or-shouldn’t-we have a presence in Facebook debate is something I’ve been following, and your survey results add some useful information to the picture.
This is pretty much my whole stance on libraries in social networks. Go ahead and make a page – students don’t have to friend you if they want to keep those spaces separate. Don’t go spamming people looking for friends, don’t make it a new top level priority, just be available through a wide variety of modes of communication. If you make an application, those who want it can have it and those that don’t will probably never even run into the fact that it exists.