The average amount of time spent on social media each day worldwide, according to the latest data, is set to hit 147 minutes, or two hours and 27 minutes in 2022. So… how can libraries and their teams leverage some of this time to ensure their libraries remain visible in their communities?
Libraries are integral to their communities
The importance of libraries cannot be underestimated, and particularly in a higher education setting.
Higher education libraries play a fundamental role in enhancing the learning experience, providing students with all the materials and services they need to improve their knowledge and succeed in their studies.
With university fees reaching £9,250 a year, students are looking for value for money. Raising awareness of university libraries and what’s on offer is just one of the ways to help satisfy student users and their needs and, for many, a large focus needs to be getting them through the door.
The current scene
Libraries offer different services aiming to improve the student experience, including a physical space where learners can find various materials such as books, dictionaries and encyclopaedias; an area where students can chill-out and relax by listening to music or reading books; a place where students are able to find international magazines and discover what’s going on worldwide; and independent study areas as well as collaborative learning spaces where students can meet up with other learners to complete group projects.
Increasing awareness and visibility of libraries in a post-pandemic world is especially important as universities continue adopting digitally enhanced or blended learning. In addition to this, could students be avoiding academic libraries because they’re ‘scary’?
Research published in 2016 suggests this, with 85% of students described their initial response to the library in terms of fear or anxiety.
Libraries need to sell themselves to capture the attention of students, because they have a lot to offer. This is where social media can really drive footfall – here’s how:
Introduce yourself: let users know who works there and what they do
This will work on all social media sites. On Twitter you can make it a thread and pin the tweet to the top of your profile, and on Instagram, you can do the same.
Simply post a photo of the library staff, their job title and how they support their student users, for example: “This is John, the research librarian who will help you to access the relevant information and support you in gaining the skills needed for effective research. John’s favourite book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar (don’t ask) and his go-to dinner is sausage casserole.”
This social activity will break down the wall between the user and the librarian which can help make the library and librarians seem more approachable (even though librarians are lovely – exhibit A – Meet the Librarian).
Share posts about the latest books that have arrived on the shelves
Each week when you receive new releases, share them on your socials, especially if it’s a book that would be popular amongst the student audience. It’s a great way to show that you are in tune with what appeals to them and it’s a nice way to encourage self-care via recreational reading.
Share book reviews
If anyone in the library has read a book they’ve really enjoyed and would recommend, sharing a review on social media is another excellent way to get users into the library. Reviews act as a form of social proof, in addition to this, it again allows librarians to share a little bit about their personality.
A university library that does this really well is the University of Derby library! They even share the location in the library!
Use the momentum of awareness days
A quick Google search will tell you that there’s a day for everything! There’s plenty of awareness days which lend themselves well to promoting certain books and collections within libraries.
Using the hashtag that relates to the awareness day, as well as ‘checking in’ at the library as a location will help increase traffic to your social media pages and, hopefully, your library building.
Be a part of the conversation
This goes without saying, but it’s a channel and an outlet for the library, giving you the ability to send your message out universally and institutionally. Similarly, if you see a student mentioning an issue that the library can solve, a quick Tweet can show them that they have been seen, heard and they are cared about, which is something that is really important to students these days.
Why should libraries use Twitter?
It’s free and has the potential to help raise the profile of the university library and encourage students to make use of the host of services on offer. Libraries are an incredible resource in higher education that can definitely be considered an underused part of the university.
Libraries don’t just stock books and journals, they’re home to a team of helpful individuals who have both student access and experience in mind.
Librarians should be proud of what they do, and be loud about it – and social media is a great place for that.
Once you’ve made your library social media account, do follow us. We’ll follow back and give you a share!
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