Reflections: Social Software and Libraries

It’s been a busy term, and it’s hard to believe it’s over already!

I’ve mentioned that I am currently employed at the University of Waterloo Library, and this class has been an excellent complement to the experiences I’ve been enjoying at work. If I wasn’t convinced that social media are an increasingly important component of library services, I am convinced now. It looks as though I’ll even get the opportunity to look over the University of Waterloo’s draft social media policy and offer some insights and suggestions. Then, many of the ideas and skills I have absorbed this term will certainly come in handy.

I have to admit that at the start of the term I was a bit smarmy about certain applications that we explored over the past four months–in particular, Twitter. I knew that a certain Canadian author whom I respect (Margaret Atwood) is an active Twitter user and Twitter proponent, but I still associated the tool with the stigma of inane chatter. However, I have discovered that Twitter can be fun and very useful as a platform for public communication and even information discovery (not only that but, as a place where many people interact, Twitter is also an important forum for self-expression and play). As you can see from the Twitter widget I’ve added to my blog, I am becoming a relatively prolific tweeter :).

One thing I think it’s important to remember is that social media are not necessarily, in themselves, innovative. They are often pretty ubiquitous (esp. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), and the challenge we face is not to be ‘wowed’ by the technology itself or to ‘fit into’ social media spaces, but to create interesting and engaging uses for the technology innovatively. Considering the time, money, skills and motivation that need to be invested in such an endeavour, that challenge is pretty daunting. But such challenges are not new, and the outcomes of facing them with some pizzazz can be impressive.

I have to admit that engaging with some applications has been quite challenging for me. You’ll notice that my last blog post about podcasting was not followed up by an actual podcast. Although I stepped away from this activity for a little while to clear my head, I plan to pick it up again soon. That ongoing pursuit will provide additional fodder for my blog postings-to-come. I definitely plan to continue writing within this platform; I have developed a penchant for blogging, and I hope I’ll continue to have some followers in the future (i.e. when there is no longer a class organized around intaking a roster of blogs that includes my own).

Thanks so much for a great class and a fun term!

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