Thursday, May 01, 2008

WAPL 2008: MySpace - Don’t Be Intimidated By It! Can It Work For Your Library?

A presentation by Amanda Tuthill, Young Adult Librarian at Milwaukee Public Library

Overview of the process Milwaukee PL went through to create their MySpace presence:

Milwaukee PL MySpace time line:
Sep 2006:
Initial idea pitched
Info gathering stage

Nov 2006:
Formal proposal
Addressed safety concerns

March 2007:
Creation of test site [at this stage, one needed to be a friend of Milwaukee PL MySpace in order to see the beta design]
The MySpace page went through many, many design changes

May 2007:
Presentation to the Milwaukee PL Administrative Team
More info gathering
Asked other library systems who had a MySpace presence; asked about who controls site content at their libraries

Summer 2007:
Consulted with the city attorney

October 18, 2007:
Presentation made to the library board
Demonstrated how the MySpace page connects with the library’s mission and vision

October 19:
MySpace page went “live” at

Tips on setting up your own library's MySpace page:

Addressing concerns:
Teen online safety / DOPA
Content control – Milwaukee PL has set it so comments made by others require approval before they appear on the MySpace page
Ask other libraries how they're handling these issues

Favorite features of a MySpace page:
  • MPL lists all library teen events there, with links to the library’s web site
  • Amanda seeks out YA authors to “friend” on the library’s web site, so kids can start a conversation directly with authors via MySpace pages
Milwaukee PL includes a link to the library’s 24x7 chat ask-a-librarian service

They're working to get more teen-generated content posted on the MySpace page

Before you create a MySpace page for your library…
  • Have a clear purpose in mind
  • Think about who your audience will be
  • Decide who will be responsible for monitoring content
  • Decide who will be responsible for handling any issues regarding the MySpace page
  • How will you decide if what you’re doing is worth it?
  • Decide who you will choose to friend
    Other libraries?
    MPL doesn’t seek out teens to friend
    You don’t have to accept every friend request
Designing the page:
  • There are lots of free MySpace editor layout generators available free online; copy & paste the code
  • When determining the color scheme, teen input is crucial
  • Teen advisory boards are great for finding kids to be involved
  • Look at other libraries’ MySpace pages for ideas
On MySpace, image is everything; “Who wants to be friends with a 100-year-old building?”
Denver PL created an avatar to represent their institution
For schools attended, MPL lists all Milwaukee area schools, so their MySpace page can more easily be found by alumni

Getting the word out:
  • Don’t expect teens to be searching for you – do your best to be found
  • Bookmarks put in books written by authors who are friended by the MPL MySpace page (wow -- great idea!)
  • Highlight the MySpace page on the library’s web site
Trying new things like MySpace is a a three-step process:
  1. Get comfortable with it; wade in; get your feet wet; create a personal page for yourself to try it out; if you’re solidly on board, it will be easier to convince others to try it
  2. Keep swimming: once you know your way around; be ready to explain what you’re doing and why
  3. Dive in: you’re familiar with the waters; don’t be afraid to try the next big think if you think it’ll have a positive application for your library

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