We began the final day of the conference with an app swap breakfast, in which conference attendees were able to share and try out useful apps. In the discussion that followed, one interesting idea emerged, something that I’d be keen to implement in my own work: researcher or student app swaps, in which participants bring in their phones or tablets and share interesting apps that have been useful in their research or studies. I already provide training in relevant apps to students, but this is generally part of an induction course, after which time there are no refreshers or updates. An app swap could fill this gap.
In the first parallel session, Mark Clowes of the University of Sheffield and Rebecca Stevenson of Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust talked about creating a joined up social media profile for library services. They emphasised the need for a consistency in style, tone and content across platforms, particularly if multiple staff shared access to the same accounts. Accounts should be linked across platforms and able to be found in one place, and any opportunity for promotion (e.g. links to Twitter feeds in email signatures) should be taken.
The second parallel session was by Claire Sewell of the University of Cambridge, on measuring the impact of social media marketing. Sewell’s talk was drawn from her MA research, in which she had surveyed the users of Cambridge’s Judge Business School Library on their impressions of that library’s use of social media. One finding was that the readers were positive about the library’s presence on social media, even if they didn’t want to engage directly on those platforms. Sewell stressed that even if you don’t appear to be making much of an engagement, library staff should persist with social media as it creates a favourable impression and makes the staff seem more approachable and friendly.
The final keynote of the conference was by Lauren Smith of the University of Strathclyde. Smith discussed the use of social media to address professional issues in LIS work. Most interesting to me was Smith’s emphasis on the way Twitter and other social media could be used by library professionals to create support networks and get the word out about campaigns such as actions to protest closures of public libraries, as well as reaching out to colleagues across the country (and indeed internationally) about problems in the LIS field.
The penultimate parallel workshop was by Andy Tattersall of the University of Sheffield on blogging. This session mainly involved small-group discussions of blogging: why do it, what content should be included, and how it should be promoted. As someone who enjoys blogging in a personal capacity but struggles to find topics about which to blog in a professional capacity, I found the discussions useful and fascinating.
Tattersall’s workshop segued nicely into my final workshop of the day, Sierra Williams of LSE talking about that university’s Impact Blog. Williams stressed the need to locate the blog within the knowledge-sharing landscape and ensure that it was researcher-led, rather than publisher-led. This meant that rather than simply being a way to broadcast newsworthy research breakthroughs, the blog became the hub for an ongoing conversation within a scholarly community.
After a few closing remarks, it was back on the train to Cambridge, my head whirling with all that I’d learnt. The conference had made me see libraries’ use of social media in a new light, and given me many tips for improving my own library’s social media presence.