Libraries & Social Media

Nancy Dowd’s article published in the Library Journal in 2013, brought to light some highly relevant and relatable questions surrounding libraries and their use of social media for outreach purposes.  I am currently on the Social Media Team, here at Grand Rapids Community College, although this role has evolved during my 5 years here.  As Dowd outlines in the article, too frequently libraries put effort into posting on a variety of platforms but do not have a procedure of tracking whether or not the posts are actually reaching their target audience, or even if they are, are they fostering any sort of response.

In the last few years, our library has gone through a variety of staff changes due to people leaving, new hires coming and the structure of our department seeing updates, as well.  With these changes came new members of the Social Media Team, which has ultimately benefited our efforts in this area.  As new members come on board, we have frequently assessed our social media presence, reviewing whether or not the platforms our posts were going out through, remain relevant and/or heard by our students, faculty or staff.  Largely, the answer for the numerous accounts was “no”, so we have narrowed our outreach efforts down to Facebook, our WordPress blog, and Twitter – eliminating a Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and other accounts along the way.

A couple tips I am taking away from Dowd’s article, which I think our library could benefit from utilizing more frequently, are the suggestion to put out posts that are humorous and those that include “fast facts” – or limited information, just giving the basics on events or important things happening at the library.  I also, really liked the quote in the article from Susan Brown, and how she tells her staff to use their own voice when posting for the library, follow their passions and engage the community – but “don’t post anything you wouldn’t be comfortable saying at a service desk.”



Dowd, N. (2013). Social Media: Libraries Are Posting, but Is Anyone Listening? Library Journal (online). Retrieved from


2 thoughts on “Libraries & Social Media

  1. That’s great experience that you’re gaining while on the SM Team there at GR! There will be a lot of opportunities for you during your career that will help you build your expertise. We don’t have all the answers yet in terms of developing best practices. Tracking social media effectiveness is key!


  2. I constantly struggle with the voice issue. My professional voice is so stiff, but my relaxed is incredibly sarcastic. I feel like it is so hard to find that middle space that makes you relatable enough to patrons/readers, but still professional.


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