NATCHITOCHES – As times and ways of accessing information change, library faculty at Northwestern State University understand new methods are needed to encourage students to use Watson Library’s vast resources. One method is social media.
Librarians use social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to engage students and let them know the library can help them find accurate information as they work on research papers and other projects. Watson Library’s social media team is Head of Collection Development and Cataloging. Deborah Huntington, Head of Serials-Media Anna T. MacDonald and Assistant Archivist Sharon Wolff,
“We seek to be engaging and inspiring,” said Huntington. “We share and post information that promotes libraries, reading, information literacy and encourages life-long learning.”
Wolff said the various feeds have a “word of the week” feature every Wednesday that defines a word and give synonyms, antonyms and uses it in an example sentence. Once a month, she is responsible for a “throwback Thursday” post that uses materials from the Cammie G. Henry Research Center in a topical way. The team is also on the lookout for national/international events or holidays, such as Banned Book Week, where NSU can add its voice to other libraries, archives, and museums across the country. On Twitter, Wolff participates in a monthly archive hashtag party sponsored by the U.S. National Archive that allows her to display Cammie G. Henry Research Center resources on a national level.
According to MacDonald, the latest campaign features home offices and “new coworkers,” which usually involves people’s pets.
“I came up with several new hashtags and campaign ideas that I sent to the other committee members to get their opinion,” she said. “We are using #WatsonLibraryStrong with the home office/coworker campaign and it plays off the #LibraryStrong the national advocacy effort aimed at highlighting the value of academic, public, and school libraries, an initiative of 2018-2019 American Library Association President Loida Garcia-Febo.”
The team created hashtags for specific information in posts like #WatsonReads when we are focusing on a specific title or book-related posts and #WatsonYourLibrary for events and programs.
“I like to find fun and engaging posts that I think will entertain and get a reaction from the members,” said MacDonald. “Additionally, I like to feature events and programs and anything in the arts that I can tie into a book or database offering.”
Posts from Watson Library’s accounts may also promote other university events.
“Our goal aligns with the Watson Library motto, which is ‘Serve all who seek knowledge,” said Wolff. “We create and share posts with the intent of spreading information, creating learning opportunities, raising awareness of library resources and participating in the NSU community.”
Each faculty member who works on the account had a different perspective on how they became involved with social media. They each emphasize the importance of effectively communicating with those who grew up in a time when they always had a smart phone and social media platforms.
“I have so many student workers in my department and they have taught me how to communicate and interact with their generation,” said Huntington.
MacDonald began learning about social media in library science and marketing classes and has added to her skills.
“I think it helps being surrounded by young people every day and we are all advisors in Alpha Beta Alpha, the library fraternal organization, where we have to use social media to communicate with them,” said MacDonald. “We realize that to communicate with our student population and the NSU community we have to get out there and engage them on whatever social media platform they may be using.”
Wolff said that as an information professional, it is part of her job to understand how people conduct research and access knowledge.
“I remember what it was like as a student and how most of the information I consumed, even about official university events and resources, I accessed on social media,” said Wolff. “I know it is far more likely that a student or faculty member will see information on a library resource on social media than it is for them to see it in a campus-wide email, and be more receptive to it there as well. For the most part, I share and create posts that I would be interested in seeing on a social media platform that I followed.”
Links to Watson Library social media accounts are available at library.nsula.edu.