Social media: Can you tell if it’s working yet?

On Friday 1st July I jumped on a train up to Manchester to attend an ARLG NW event called Social media: Can you tell if it’s working yet? I always look forward to these courses, partly because social media in libraries is one of my main areas of interest, but also because it’s good to meet other academic librarians and hear about their experiences.

My journey through Manchester was eventful; it was the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and there was a big afternoon procession due to start from the Central Library where I was heading, meaning many roads were blocked off.  I’m terrible with directions anyway, and despite a printed map, Google maps on my phone, *and* written instructions, I got completely lost and had to ask a proper grown-up for help. I arrived with 10 minutes to spare, spending 5 minutes admiring the giant cannons outside ready for the procession, and 5 minutes admiring the beautiful atrium of the Central Library. I’d certainly advocate a visit to this venue – it’s a gorgeous old domed/pillared building, with a clean, modern and bright interior.


After the cannon-fire subsided, the course got going.  Sarah Mallen from the University of Manchester Careers Service, and Michelle Bond from Liverpool Hope University spoke about their experiences of using social media, with a common theme of learning to hone their social media presence over time in response to changing audiences and channels, using a strategy or framework to make the whole process manageable and easier to evaluate.  They were followed by Tom Mason, Social Media Coordinator at the University of Manchester, who demonstrated the value of a social media framework and also showed us how he manages a large social media presence for an entire university.  I really appreciated his expertise from a marketing perspective, and it was actually the opposite of what I’d learned from previous social media courses.  Whereas those courses had focused on systematically crafting different content suitable for each channel, Tom spoke of deciding upon the message first, and then disseminating it through the appropriate channels. This makes sense to me – if you decide on what you want to say first (let’s say we’re talking about study space) then you can decide how best to communicate the information to the people who need to know about it (perhaps pictures and maps of the different spaces) and then decide on the best channel (a photo-sharing site i.e. Instagram plus cross-sharing across platforms).

The final part of the day was the bit that had sold the course to me – working in groups to create a social media framework.  My group discussed our experiences more than working on the framework, but this was valuable in itself and I came away with not only a way forward in terms of our own social media strategy, but loads of great ideas (and things to avoid!) from my group.

Overall it was a very positive day out, and I’m really glad I went. I’m now brimming with renewed enthusiasm for the huge potentials that social media can offer us.



CILIP West Midlands Member’s Day 2016

On Thursday 11th February, I was up bright and early to get the train to Worcester for the annual CILIP West Midlands Member’s day (for non-library folk, CILIP is the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals).

I was on my way to The Hive, the first integrated public and academic library in the UK.  This was my first visit to The Hive and I was impressed by how spacious, light and quiet the building is.  Coming from an open-plan building, it struck me that despite being busy and having lots of toddlers around at that time of day, the sound didn’t travel between the floors. On the whole, library users were very quiet!  I went on a guided tour at lunchtime, where we saw the mix of library users at work, and the way that all the public and academic resources have been integrated. I think it’s a fantastic way of enabling students and the public alike to access library materials.

The Hive

Image (c) The Hive


The theme of the members’ day was marketing, with the following speakers:

  • Neil Infield, Manager, British Library Business & Intellectual Property Centre
  • Adam Koszary, Communications & Social Media Officer, Bodleian Libraries Oxford University
  • Nick Poole, CILIP Chief Executive
  • Andy Ryan, Stellar Libraries (Winner of the 2015 PPRG Impact Marketing Excellence Award)

The speakers were all engaging and knowledgeable about the topic.  I was particularly fascinated by Adam Koszary’s recent viral story about the mouse that got caught in the 155 year old mousetrap.  I’d read this story via a link on Facebook to one of the clickbait sites, and it was interesting to hear about the impact it had from the originators point of view!

One of the key ideas from the day was about how blogs should be the social media platform of choice.  They serve as a more useful information archive than Twitter, Facebook and the like, because Google indexes the posts.  I’ve seen this in action looking at our own blog – 3 of the top 5 viewed posts in January were over 3 years old, via people searching for help on Google.  When Twitter ceases to be popular (or exist at all, as speakers were predicting), your blog will still be there.  Your blog is a portal to all other forms of communication that you currently use.

Another key point was about how differently you should be using each social media platform.   For example, I post here on our blog, on our Twitter account, and most recently on our new Facebook page.  I try to mix it up – I post slightly different things on Twitter and Facebook, for example.  According to Neil Infield, people don’t want to be ‘sold’ your services on Facebook, so it’s worth taking the time to craft content (behind-the-scenes snippets, interesting items in your collection etc.).  Twitter, on the other hand is shorter, more transient, and better for quick news and updates.  I think we’ve greatly improved our social media presence in the last year or so – but I didn’t know that Instagram was the most used social media site for 18-25 year olds currently, even though I use it myself more than any other!  The question was asked – why are we not on Instagram when the majority of our students are in that age group? There was a lot of food for thought, and I came away from the day with a much clearer idea about how we can grow and improve our use of social media.

Thanks to CILIP West Midlands and The Hive for hosting us – it was a fantastic day!

Library updates January 2015


We’re now on Facebook!  This gives us another route of communication and allows you, our users, to receive library news and updates quickly.  Hopefully this will take off and work well in conjunction with our very active Twitter page.  The more people who like and share our posts makes it more likely that Facebook will show our posts in people’s feeds – so please give us a ‘like’!

facebook like

Library jargon

Ever wonder what certain library terms mean? Struggling to understand what we mean when we say…?


Our handy Libguide is here to help!  We’ve offered definitions for many of the terms we commonly use, and we will continue to build on it over time – this is a work in progress and any suggestions/feedback about the content is valuable to us.  You can feed back using our contact form.

Library Help

We’ve been hard at work expanding our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and making our Library Help page more user-friendly.  Got a question about the library? Search our FAQs for the answer, chat to us live, or submit a question via email or text.  You can also Tweet us, Facebook us, or visit us in person.

You Said We Did

Wonder what we do with complaints or suggestions? We publish these termly as You Said We DidThere is a now a Libguide to display our popular answers.  We’re also adding some of the responses to our FAQ pages so that they are easily searchable.

You said we did