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The Library on social media: A beginning

Social Media mind mapping

Image Copyright Ragma Images, 2012.
Used under licence from Shutterstock.com
(the photo is only indicative)

Less than a year ago “Google it up“, “Facebooking“, “Tweet it!“, “+1” were all well engraved in our vocabularies. Yet, this grammatical nonsense gave zero results when used in relation to “Library of the European Parliament”. It seemed that we were going through a difficult phase in a librarian’s life – we had to accept that social media creates an endless number of competing channels for information research and content curation. Luckily, we agreed on our shortcomings, and more importantly, we had a vision.

We knew we weren’t managing to serve Members on their preferred information search channels. Each Member uses her/his own way to moderate their information overflow and it would be simply wrong to compete with Members’ established and (more or less) working practices of obtaining information. Therefore, our value for them was decreasing, not because of the quality of our work, but merely because we were not present where they needed us most.

The vision came naturally: to successfully incorporate social media into our working processes and to provide Members with our full and convenient support wherever they are. But of course, like any good information specialist, we did our research and agreed about the future steps.

The Social Media Communication Strategy

The work resulted in the Strategy that presented which information channels Members use most. Members often work while travelling, heavily dependent on mobile devices and without easy access to our technologically-advanced internal website. We realised that over 500 Members (of 754) are on Facebook and more than 300 Members use Twitter. Other social networks are not used significantly…yet. Facebook is, logically, used to communicate with citizens, while Twitter is predominantly used to keep instantly updated, especially about international affairs. We felt we could offer valuable support with our products in both areas.

In addition, our Strategy defines our objectives, timeline and branding guidelines for all Library staff, to maximise impact with minimum additional work. This last is very important, as our focus is not only to be convenient, but foremost to provide quality information to facilitate the decision-making process in the European Parliament.

After a few weeks, the fun began! The Blog that you are reading is one of the milestones since for the first time we created a presence on the Internet. And at least for some time, this blog will be the centre of our social media activities.

But this is already a story for the next post. Stay tuned…

Library on Social Media

About Mitja Brus

Social media coordinator at the European Parliamentary Research Service in the European Parliament.

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