Thing 2: Online Communities & Location Based Services

Welcome to week 2! You all did a great job of getting your learning journals set up last week. We know there were some hiccups here and there, but your patience and persistence paid off! All the conversations flying back and forth on your learning journals has been wonderful to see.  Don’t forget you can find ALL of your colleagues’ learning journals listed on the Participants Page.


This week we will focus on Online Communities (aka: Social Networking) and Location Based Services. We’ll explore how they’ve changed the way we use technology to communicate with each other and share information about the organizations in our communities.

Many of you are already members of online communities, the most popular ones these days being  Facebook and Twitter. But there are many others out there! Some revolve around personal interests such as knitting, photography and reading. While others are more professional in nature: LinkedIn, WebJunction, Classroom 2.0, Teacher-Librarian Ning and ALA Connect.

Online Communities: Some people love online communities, others hate them, some just aren’t sure what to make of it all. But regardless of our personal opinions, we can’t deny that online communities are a big part of the world we live in today. Take a look at this video and see what you think, are any of the facts presented surprising to you?

Common Craft also has a  video explaining the basics of social networking. 
Social Networking video
(video won’t play here, you need to visit the CommonCraft website)

Location Based Services, like Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor and Google Places, help people find organizations and services based on geographic location and let them explore reviews and recommendations written by friends and others. For example, a search on Yelp will help you find great restaurants that your friends have visited and recommended. A search on Foursquare could help someone find that there’s a library nearby with free wifi (and maybe coffee?). An entry as an attraction in TripAdvisor could tell me that your library will let me check out books while I’m visiting your town on summer vacation. And of course, your Place Page on Google should provide accurate hours, contact information, description of services and hopefully some good reviews from your community.


Participating in online communities has benefits for each of us as library staff and also as a way for connecting with the users of our libraries.

As individuals, social networks help us connect with other library staff in our local communities and around the world. This can provide an amazingly rich source of innovative ideas and support. Stumped with a problem that you can’t solve or need to brainstorm with someone? Maybe someone in your online communities has faced this same problem and can share some good ideas. And you can do the same for them. We all have expertise, let’s share it!

Going to a conference & don’t know many other people attending? Connect with other attendees ahead of time. It’s a great way to get to know people before a conference or workshop. I’m amazed at the number of online friends who have become “in person” friends & valued colleagues as a result of connecting online and then meeting at conferences.

For a library, having a presence on social networks is one more way to reach out to the library’s community. Use these tools to announce upcoming programs, discuss an upcoming budget vote, highlight great new resources, hold a book discussion, ask for feedback on your services, run a trivia contest, provide a weekly list of new titles, answer reference questions and so on. Your patrons and potential patrons are using these tools. Really, they are! Provide them with information about library services and a way to connect to the library staff in a space that they already use often.

Examples of how libraries are using these services:

Privacy Concerns

  • Facebook Privacy Settings  This covers the changes that were made to Facebook privacy settings last summer (2011). Be aware that Facebook changes things all the time, so it’s a good idea to check your settings now and then.



  • Linked In – Designed to help professionals connect with each other to generate job leads and collaboration opportunties. Includes discussion forums on a broad range of topics.
  • GoodReads, LibraryThing – Great book related social networks.
  • WebJunction – Terrific resources for libraries and good discussions.
  • ALA Connect – Are you an ALA member? Then make sure you take a look at ALA Connect. You can connect with other members of the committees, sections and roundtables that you belong to.
  • Ravelry – For all you knitters & crocheters out there.


  • Google Places – Claiming your library’s Place Page on Google is a “must do”. To find out what’s already on your place page, do a Google Maps search on your library’s name. Click on the name of your library in list of search results to the left of the map. Your place page will be displayed. Here’s an example from Saratoga Springs Public Library. They’ve “claimed” or verified their page and have added useful information to it.
  • Yelp – Take a look, is your library there? Are there some reviews? Unless you’ve already claimed the listing as your own, you should go ahead and claim the listing.
  • Foursquare – Foursquare is a location based game of sorts, but also a searchable listing of local services. People use their phones to locate businesses and services near where they’re located. For instance, I might use it to find a nearby coffee shop or a location that has free wifi. Your library is very likely already listed here. You may not have been the one to list it, but you can claim it and take control of the location. You could add information about hours, services, wifi and so on. You could even offer a some sort of special reward for people who check in a lot.
  • TripAdvisor – Not as many libraries are listed here, but they should be! When people are traveling, it’s nice to know that the local libray could help them with answering questions about the area, provide them with wifi and other services. Libraries fall in the “attraction” category on TripAdvisor: Get Listed as an Attraction


This week’s activity is to explore an online community or location based service that interests you. Pick one of the options below.

Option 1: Join and explore Facebook. Look for some library pages to see what they’re doing with their presence on Facebook. If you don’t want to join Facebook, you can still explore some library pages. This google search will turn up quite a few public library pages:

Option 2: Join & explore one of the other online communities that have been discussed in this lesson.

Option 3: Look for your library or nearby libraries on Yelp, Foursquare, Tripadvisor, Google maps. Are there reviews from library visitors? Is the information accurate? Did you find the option to “claim your business/location”?

Bonus: Join the BYBO Facebook group! This is a group just for members of this project, so you can share ideas with each other easily. Many of the participants from the first 10 Things series are on there and still active!


    • Please label your post “Thing 2 : Online Communities”
    • Comment on your experience with online communities & location based services. Do you think they’re valuable?
    • How can libraries use them to connect with customers?
    • Do you see social networking as a way to connect with other professionals?

1 Response to Thing 2: Online Communities & Location Based Services

  1. Well, I was a week late with Thing 2: Online Communities but I am really glad that I went back to it. I’ve been using Facebook for a couple of years to promote our events and programs but I haven’t really explored this other options. There really is so much you can do with them! And the statistics presented are amazing! I checked out yelp and the Butterfield Library is on there but it sounds like it needs to be updated (it says we only have two computers!!). We weren’t on Trip Advisor so I tried to add us. We were on Foursquare but there didn’t seem like there was any information. I’ll try to update all of these.

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