Diving into the first week of RSS articles in the Library Currents listening post

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My first investigation of the articles in the RSS listening post that I made for the Library Currents blog revealed that the topic of social media is popular both in the LIS world and around the web in general. The listening post picked up original articles by authors of major websites, blogger’s creative posts, information graphic reposts, and curated articles of other major stories with commentary. There were articles about the usual suspects: Facebook, Twitter, and others, which are always good places to start with writing articles about social media advances, tips or discussions.

Social Media Tools

I found an interesting article on trendspotting on The Digital Shift by Robin Brenner, who described her experience following the social media trail to find where her teen patrons were congregating online. After failing to converse with teens about the library on Facebook and Twitter, she found that they responded to Library posts on Tumblr. She provided some great tips about not only how to use Tumblr, but also how to think about it when using it to communicate with teens.

The Digital Shift also hosted an article by Linda Braun regarding The Book Elf, a social tool that is taking public domain books to the level of social sharing. The Book Elf allows members access to free public domain books, and users can create their own libraries and share them with their friends. Friends can include their friends’ books on their own shelves, and even suggest books to include on The Book Elf if they own and can provide a digital copy. Digital, sharable public domain books seems like a natural fit for social sharing, especially with many books required for educational purposes.

I also came across a few technology articles that were not related to social media, but either the Internet or technological innovation in general. Many blogs and websites write about both social media and technology topics, as they are interlinked.

Maker Spaces

For example,  Makezine posted an article by Phil Shapiro, where he talked about how to spread the word about Maker Spaces, Maker Zines, and Maker Faires to the world at large. As a maker space evangelist, he speaks about his goal to raise general awareness of the maker movement to 20% of the population. He describes the maker movement as being broadly defined, including everything from knitting, welding and electronics to jewelry making and software programming. The future of libraries includes patrons creating content and other things for their libraries, and maker spaces are a large part of what makes libraries participatory.

Emerging Technologies

Emerging technologies can also be seen in the Library Currents listening post. For example, Mark Enis writes about a new cloud-based repository that allows educational institutions to save and host research papers, datasets and other important documents for public viewing and access. The concept is similar in nature to YouTube for videos or Flickr for images, and would bring cost savings to colleges and universities because FigShare would receive big cost breaks in hosting the materials. I definitely seeing academic libraries forging partnerships with Figshare to develop the connections and applications for college departments to be able to use this service. Expect this to be a big thing in the future.

Mobile Device Trends

The Business Insider posted an interesting infographic showing how the general public is on the Internet twice as much than just 3 years ago! Apparently, the rise of smartphone market share along with the introduction and widespread use of tablets has contributed greatly to this jump in usage. I would venture to add that people are accessing social media in greater numbers as well due to these devices, making their relevance to libraries even more important.

Forbes adds to the conversation with a repost of an infographic on its website, showing the IDC’s report that 87% of connected devices in 2017 will be tablets and smartphones. Smartphones are gobbling up the market, and will comprise 70.5% of the market in 2017, up from 59.5% today.

Social Intelligence

Obviously, the market will require more information gatherers to keep up with changes in trends, and according to McKinsey & Company, a growing concept called “social intelligence” is catching on in the business world that transforms information gatherers into information hunters. This is because intelligence-gathering on products, audiences and markets is moving away from the traditional siloed business unit model to the social intelligence model, which is driven by social media and the conversations in social media by experts, bloggers, and, well, people like you and me. The social intelligence model can data mine for discussion topics, consumer sentiments, qualitative insights, or the volume of product buzz. Social media is becoming a new platform, a new paradigm, and essentially a new way of doing business research.

The implications for libraries are grand, if those of us in the LIS world can grasp social media within business concepts such an social intelligence. The future may require librarians to not only conduct SWOT analysis during the strategic planning process, but data mine using software applications hooked into social media — just to stay competitive with your local bookstore, who may have all the ins and outs of social media already in play.

In conclusion, the listening post gleaned a wide variety of information this week about libraries and social media, but also pulled new ideas in emergent technologies, maker spaces, mobile device trends and social intelligence. I believe there will be plenty of ideas to cover on a weekly basis in the future Library Currents blog, whether the focus is on innovation in general or social media in particular. Combined with new research, case studies, pilot projects, academic studies and analysis of other data in the scholarly or peer-reviewed literature, Library Currents will always be able to be a trendspotter!

Next up: A Look at the Library Literature Regarding Social Media and Innovation

Series Navigation<< Researching the Trends of Social Media in 2013: First LookLibraries and Social Media within the recent LIS Literature >>
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Mickel is an MLIS and the creator of Library Currents. His inspiration for the blog was the SJSU course "The Hyperlinked Library" taught by Dr. Michael Stephens, a course that is also a worldwide MOOC. If you wish to contact him, feel free to write to Mickel Paris at librarycurrents1@aol.com.

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