I enrolled in this class with a sense of trepidation because in no way was I a social media guru, nor did I even really understand what informatics meant! However, I feel this class has prodded me forward from the ancient days of smoke signals as social media to more modern times of #shelfies. I have also grasped the importance of community informatics – evaluating the specific social media and information needs of your library to see what type(s) of social software provides the most benefit to users; in other words, embrace community analysis for strategic planning and return on investment! Overall, I’m not as intimidated or afraid of social media as I was just a few weeks ago, which is probably a good thing since social media is a popular library job interview topic!
Moreover, I’m not ashamed to admit that I still have much left to learn about social media, but so does everybody else in view of the rapid pace of change occurring across all social media platforms. Dynamic technologies cause a rapid turnover of beginners and experts. Part of the social media learning process, at least in my opinion, is realizing that you have the choice not to embrace every available social software. Yes, I am more open to exploring different social media technologies, but I am under no obligation to use those which don’t appeal to me (cough Reddit cough). And that same realization is critically important for libraries when implementing social media strategies. If your library has a large Facebook audience, yet few followers on Twitter, shouldn’t you focus your effort and energy on what returns the most dividends?
Ultimately, I have acquired a more nuanced perspective about social media. I think I was probably too dismissive of social media as lacking much utility prior to this class, really only judging it by its playful side. But my eyes have been opened! I am now a fan of tagging to make my life easier and more organized, whether personally or professionally – #timesaver. As a library and information professional-in-training, the group project was invaluable in teaching me how social media can enable beneficial and enjoyable collaboration among coworkers – even when separated by distance. Perhaps the greatest insight about social media I accrued from this class is why social media should matter to me as a future librarian. Obviously, it’s an open-access means of communication and information, yet it’s also the domain where the future of librarianship is being debated and determined. Social media isn’t exempt from the core debates of accessibility, accuracy, authority, censorship, classification, copyright, discrimination, ethics, free speech, plagiarism, publication, and relevancy that have concerned traditional physical libraries for decades. Librarians, as I hope to be, cannot ignore social media because it has become both public narrative and voice.