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Striking a Balance: Effective Use of Facebook in an Academic Library

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Abstract : As one of the fastest growing social networking sites, Facebook presents librarians with a prime opportunity to engage academic library patrons. A survey of 136 users at Western Michigan University (WMU) measured the effectiveness of Facebook as a marketing, reference, and instruction tool. It also measured user comfort and satisfaction with a library's presence on Facebook. The majority of respondents found Facebook to be a useful and engaging medium to learn about library resources and services. The results of this study indicate that an effective library Facebook page must maintain a balance between providing pertinent and useful information and preserving patron privacy. In a second study also included in this article, data from a survey of 14 peer institutions of Western Michigan University positions WMU's local survey within the context of their peer's use of Facebook. The survey of peer institutions concludes that most libraries use Facebook for marketing and outreach purposes.


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