Social Media for Beginners

From the Huffington Post

From the Huffington Post

Libraries have always held a certain fascination for me. Growing up, I always looked forward to Wednesday nights, when my mother would bundle us kids into the car and take us down to the local library where we would spend hours searching the stacks for that week’s new book. As I got older, the library continued to be an important focal point for me and my friends. We attended lectures, caught some classic films, and even held our club meetings there. I got a lot of value out of that library, and though I now live in a different city, I still make it a point to visit my local library as often as possible. But things aren’t quite the same as they were when I was a kid. Today, life has more distractions, and librarians need to find new ways to reach out to their patrons, and to connect with their communities. That means launching a vigorous publicity campaign, and that’s where social media comes into play.

Social Media – Taking Your Message to the People
As a librarian, you want to reach out to as many people as possible in order to promote the services and activities offered by your library. Now, most libraries operate on a tight budget, which makes it difficult to launch a typical publicity campaign. But social media offers an inexpensive and highly effective way to publicize your library. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the new social centers, with people of all ages participating in these online communities. This offers an untapped reservoir for librarians. Not only can you promote your library, but you can engage directly with your patrons. All with the click of a mouse. While there are many different social media sites to choose from, let’s look at a few of the most popular and how you can use them to publicize your library.

Where social media is concerned, Facebook is top of the heap. Even big businesses use it to connect with their customers and to promote their brands. Your Facebook page can be an online gathering place for you and your regular patrons. You can use it to create interest in your library by promoting upcoming events like a guest speaker or summer film series. You can regularly announce new arrivals, and take requests for specific titles. You might even use your Facebook page to encourage a reading group by publishing a regular reading list. Properly leveraged, Facebook can both publicize your library, and create a vibrant online community. Best of all, Facebook is free, making it a perfect fit for small libraries on a tight budget.


Twitter is second only to Facebook in popularity, and offers a valuable avenue of publicity for your library. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so you can’t get terribly in depth with your posts, but it is still a great way to connect with patrons. You can post announcements about new titles and upcoming events, links to local or national news stories, or simply tweet a daily joke to brighten your followers’ day. As your number of followers increases, and more people interact with your posts, your library’s online profile will grow. Again, like Facebook, Twitter is free.

You might not think of YouTube as a social media site, but it has many followers and devotees. Creating a YouTube channel for your library is a good way promote, and archive, special events. For example, if you have a popular author coming to town for a reading you might video tape the event for later publication on your YouTube channel. People who were there for the reading can relive the event, and people who haven’t visited your library can see what they’ve been missing. Creating a YouTube channel is free, however you should be careful about securing rights to anything you might choose to post. Also, don’t forget to cross-promote your YouTube channel on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Social media is a great way to promote any business, but is particularly well suited to publicizing local libraries. After all, a good library thrives on building a community, and social media is all about communities. However, whatever social media outlet you choose to publicize your library, it is important to remain consistent. Regular updates are a necessity, and you want to be sure to post news and updates at regular intervals. For your social media publicity campaign to be effective, it must be ongoing. The time you invest will be well rewarded.

Daphne Holmes contributed this guest post. She is a writer from and you can reach her at



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