Social Media in the Library

Okay…time for a hot topic. This has been on my mind for quite some time, and I think it’s necessary to dive right in.

Where does social media fit into my library? Well, I honestly don’t know because my school district blocks almost all forms of social media. As part of my evaluation this year, I am supposed to effectively communicate with the students in my building. I have started doing a staff newsletter and a student newsletter through Smore. The staff edition is emailed to the staff and is well-received. The only way to communicate my student edition to the students is through My Big Campus, which is our learning management system. I have advertised for kids to join the Media Center’s My Big Campus Page and approximately 20 students have done so. However, they get tired of all of the email notifications, so they turn the notifications off. This means that they have no idea when I post a newsletter. In December only 5 students viewed my newsletter. The amount of time it took to make the newsletter was inversely proportional to the number of students who actually read it.

So, I decide to do some research.

1. I found this article by Andrew Watts and shared it with a few students. They said, for the most part, it nailed their views on social media.

2. The Pew Research Center recently released their Social Media Update for 2012-2014. While Facebook seems to be leveling off, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter are still increasing in usage.

3. In many Media Center Newsletters posted online, you will find links to the Media Center Twitter and Facebook accounts.

4. Naomi Bates has a great blog that explores this topic.

5. I watched a webinar through Follett Learning titled “RU Ready 2 Trust ’em? Why Access is Essential to Developing Citizenship Among Millennials”. Great information!

Now that I’ve done a bit of research, I am sad. Of all the things I found, it seems that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are my best options in reaching the teen masses. Alas, my district blocks them all.

The filter, my friends, is not the issue. The issue is with the person/people that choose the filter settings. Some of the reasoning falls back on eRate. So…time to research federal eRate funding.

Aha! It’s not eRate’s fault, either!! According to E-Rate Central, the FCC wants schools to be Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) compliant by providing Digital Citizenship training for our students. In order to effectively teach Digital Citizenship, social networking sites should remain unblocked. That makes sense. How can you teach students about these sites if the sites are blocked?!

So, what are my options? I really don’t know yet. It remains to be seen. I’ve gone to our technology committee, but their hands are tied. I’ve gone to my principals and their hands are tied. I have talked a bit with our Head of Technology, but there was no response. I will probably get a negative mark on my evaluation this year for not continuing to market the library through student newsletters, but I need to use my time wisely. I can spend hours creating a beautiful newsletter and only have 5 students read it (one of which is my son who is forced to read it to make sure all of the links work), or I can use my time to help individual students as they come into the library.

I work for a great school district, but we are not infallible. In our effort to protect students and staff, are we also limiting them? Are our preconceived notions regarding the negative impacts of social media overriding the positive impact social media could have in our schools? Are we scared to interact with students based on the few crazies that take the interaction too far? What are we missing here?




Currently reading: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

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Filed under Librarianship, Rural Library, School Library

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