Libraries and Social Media: Connecting the Dots
Welcome to our Librarian Spotlight series! These exclusive Q & A’s will focus on librarians from all over the nation, giving us the inside scoop on how their social media platforms connect their patrons with not only their libraries, but with the communities they serve.
This week’s VIP is Assistant Branch Manager Arlene Haessler of the Marathon Branch Library in Monroe County, Florida.
Q: What library are you a part of? Where is it located?
A: I am the Assistant Branch Manager at the Marathon Branch Library of the Monroe County Public Library system in Monroe County, Florida.
Q: What does customer service mean to you? Do you feel that your software system provides accessible resources and support for your patrons?
A: I grew up in the customer service industry and spent over twenty-five years working in restaurants, bars and hotels. My attitude on service evolves from my experience in hospitality. The operative word for me is attention. Even if you are busy doing something else, paying attention to newcomers in a situation whether at a bar or at the circulation desk is important. Simply a quick nod and the words “I will be with you in a moment,” works wonders. It is also important to have a global awareness of “the room,” keeping an eye on what is happening all around the area you are working. I call it having bartender ears! This is a difficult concept for many library employees to manage especially when new, but we have this issue with long-term staff as well.
In a library, part of our service is to make our resources findable and accessible. I do not feel our ILS does a good job of this, but the issue is two-fold and only partly the ILS itself. For example, if the spelling is off by one character of any type, search results will not show the item even if we have it. There are also some issues with how the items were catalogued. Different versions of author names, innacurate titles (especially with series and collections), also interferes with findability and it is frustrating.
Q: How do you feel about social media?
A: I used to love social media but now that is it a major part of my work, I don’t enjoy it as much anymore. I believe it is a useful tool for reaching our community and is important for maintaining contact during emergencies such as hurricane recovery and the pandemic. I have a lot to learn about engaging our community on social media, but I have been working steadily at it for two years now and am improving a little at a time!
Q: Do you think that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, etc. help generate community outreach and engagement with your patrons?
A: Yes, I do believe these are useful tools. For us we are currently only using Facebook and Instagram; although, I want to use TikTok but don’t have the bandwidth right now. I use Twitter for myself and set up an account for the library but we don’t get much interaction there.
Q: Does your library use social media? If so, what platforms?
A: We primarily use Facebook and Instagram. As I said above, I set up a Twitter and a Tik Tok but we aren’t actively using Twitter, and I haven’t learned how to use TikTok yet, but I want to!
Q: What management software do you use? Is there anything that is not provided that you wish your library had?
A: Before they changed the pricing structure, I was using the free version of Hootsuite and loved it. I had it set up for the three accounts: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and was able to manage my posts through scheduling and creating drafts so easily. I gave it up when they changed the structure but I may bring it to our newly forming Social Media Committee as something we can do for the system. I may also shop for other alternatives to see if there is another resource with a more affordable plan. For now, I am using Facebook Business with the Instagram platform to achieve the scheduling and planning I was doing with Hootsuite, but I don’t enjoy it as much as Hootesuite.
Q: In addition to social media, what other sorts of community outreach does your library conduct towards your patrons and other organizations?
A: Before COVID, I was beginning to reach out to organizations such as our local Zonta and the Business and Professional Women’s Association to do talks at their membership meetings. Our children’s librarian did several regular outreach Programs at local daycares as well. Unfortunately, these initiatives were derailed by the pandemic and the changes to our library services.
Q: Does your library partake in any sort of cross-promotion/outreach with other local businesses and/or organizations?
A: Our County BOCC shares our events on their Facebook page and we also share announcements and program schedules with local groups on Facebook. We have a local newspaper, the Marathon Weekly, that publicizes our program schedule in each edition and occasionally does write ups about programs or events.
Q: If you could be a character in any book, who would it be and why?
A: I always admired Kinsey Milhone, the detective in the Sue Grafton series. She was tough, had a different family background and she solved problems for people.