The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media [Review]


reviewed by Rebekah Hosman

The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media
Laura SolomonThe Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media
Chicago, IL:  American Library Association Editions, 2012
ISBN, 978-0838911600, paperback
224 pages, $52.00

Laura Solomon writes in the introduction of The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media that “this book is my attempt not only to answer common questions libraries have about using social media but also to explain and demonstrate how libraries can be doing social media more effectively” (intro pg. ix).The best part about Solomon’s book is that she thoroughly accomplishes what she sets out to do–the book is chock full of effective methods to navigate the social media world, with the understanding of why libraries should be involved in social media in the first place.

Solomon includes a wide range of topics from Understanding Social Capital (which is a key concept that I hadn’t heard before), Fine-Tuning Facebook, Online Reputation Management, Social Media in the Long Term, and more. Each of the eleven chapters addresses a vital component in understanding and managing social media for a library. Solomon doesn’t just talk about how to participate successfully in the social media world, but she also gives references, resources and practical tasks for a library’s social media plan. There are many types of social media sites discussed in this book, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, and blogging. It’s up to a library to choose what works best for their needs and patrons.

This book is a great asset for libraries wanting to start or advance their social media agenda. If libraries aren’t currently utilizing social media, this book will help you to understand and plan an effective social media campaign at whatever level will best suit your library. Whether you are the Library Director or the Social Media person, you will find practical applications in this book. At our library we have started using several social media sites; including Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook to connect to our patrons and be a resource for our community. After reading this book I realized that I’d missed some steps to be successful in our media plan. For example, we didn’t have a Social Media Policy, and Solomon explains why that’s important and directs readers to several policies developed by other libraries.

As the Library Director of a small rural library, I sat down to read the book and was excited to find a wealth of useful information I could use for our library. I ended up not only underlining the key tips that Solomon puts at the end of each chapter, but also wrote down a list of tasks for my library’s social media plan. We plan to implement a social media plan, poll our patrons to see what social media sites they use, and establish a social media team to help keep our sites current and updated. We especially appreciated the specific advice on how to effectively post on Twitter.

My library also appreciated the final chapters that talk about evaluating your social media plan and social media in the long term. Solomon helps readers to understand how social media is a changing system, but will continue to be around in some form. If you follow Solomon’s advice and direction then you will have a long-term effective plan for your library’s social media. She also provides encouragement by having real-life library staff give social media advice. For example, “Social media, just as the names implies, is social. No one person or department can tackle it alone successfully. It has to be a group effort. And, oh, yeah I almost forgot, not an afterthought to your other endeavors” (192).

When you are finished reading (and re-reading because the information is so relevant) the book, you will feel equipped and ready to take on the social media world. Solomon’s book is not only an effective guide, but in essence a how-to handbook for libraries using social media. I would recommend this book for libraries that would like to start using social media, and libraries that are having difficulty using social media effectively.

Rebekah Hosman is the Library Director at the Grangeville Centennial Library.

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