15 Application of Social Media for Library Services

Sunil M V

epgp books



I. Objectives

This unit will navigate you through the range of social media tools, library services offered through social media, and organizations that are already using social media. After completing this Unit will able to:

  • Have holistic understanding social media tools and its implementation for library services,
  • Get a picture about library services offered using suitable social media tools with suitable examples and live case studies,
  • Understand the concept of OPAC 2.0 and application of discovery tools; and
  • Getan idea about the plan of action for using social media in libraries.


II. Learning Outcome


On completing the module you are expected to have an idea of the various social media tools that are available today and their scope and purpose. You should also be aware of how social media have been effectively employed in library services. Also you learn about various social media and their use in the scholarly communication.


III.    Structure of the Module


1. Introduction

2. Why Social Media for Libraries?

3. Are we ready for Social Media?Use of Social Media in LibrariesTypes of Social Media and their use in Libraries

4. Types of Social Media and their use in Libraries

5. Type 1: Communication

5.1. Facebook

5.2. Application in Library

5.3. Case studies

5.4. Videos

5.5 .To know more

6. Type 2: Collaborative Content Building

6.1. Drupal

6.2. Features in Drupal:

6.3. Features specific to library

6.4. Application in Library

6.5. Case Studies

6.6. Video

6.7. To know more

7.  Type 3: Multimedia Sharing

7.1. YouTube

7.2. Application to Library

7.3. Case studies

7.4. To know more

7.5. Flicker

7.6. Application to library

7.7. Case Studies

7.8. To know more

8.  Type 4: Review & Opinion

8.1 To know more

9.  Type 5: Entertainment

9.1. To know more

10.  Type 6: Monitoring

10. 1. To know more

10.  2. Integration of Social Media Tools in to Opac

10.  3. What is OPAC 2.0?

10.4 Case Studies

10.  5. To know more

10.6. Library Thing

10. 7. To know more

10.8. Case Studies

11.  Summary

12.  References


1. Introduction


Today, we cannot take social media dispassionately. Having seen our friends, family, faculty, functionaries, etc, and with our own experience, we know that it is easy to learn and use. We may have experienced social media already to a great extent for personal affairs. When we attempt to get our libraries or organizations to have social media presence, we should have a clear understanding about pros and cons, use and misuse, merits and demerits of these tools bring along with its implementation. Further, we should be aware about the requirements, responsibilities, and commitment needed for implementing social media for libraries.


Social media is a way current world would create & publish the content, interact, and have web presence. In this new world, everyone is a creator or publisher of information. The content on different social media types with different tools – Communication, Collaborative Content Building, Multimedia Sharing, Review & Opinions, Entertainment; and, Monitoring – made this world live and real time. In the literature, Facebook, Twitter, Drupal, MySpace, LibraryThing, YouTube, Flickr and so on, are some of the tools found used by libraries. Having thorough knowledge about how to use these tools to make our library website, OPAC, reference service, alert service and our interaction with users more interactive, effective, and elegant is the need of the hour for Librarians 2.0.


A wise saying by Alvin Toffler utters ‘the illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn’. This is going to be true especially in case of internet usage, which only shows the power of internet in shaping our future.


The Internet has given ample opportunities for information industry in general and libraries in particular to communicate and engage with the information users using free online resources. Social media is just a name for how the internet looks nowadays and the way people use it. This change is particularly dueto the social media tools. In a general sense we can say ‘social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques’ (Morgan, 2012). Social media makes our information search, accessing, organizing, creating, disseminating and analyzing more interactive. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological andtechnological foundations of Web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” We can see the concept of ‘Co-creation’ coined by C.K. Prahalad effectively in social media where the concept is materialized using the technology and social interaction.


2. Why Social Media for Libraries?


The social media revolution is changing the way individuals and organisations interact and libraries are not immune from this. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the Internet was a monolithic passive medium. It was more a medium to provide content, not for interaction. With the introduction of tools for user to comment, engage, share and enhance the content on Internet, it became dynamic and interactive. So, we can understand the social media in simplest form as ‘a web- based medium through which people can share content, personal opinion, spread news, swap perspectives and generally communicate with other people’.


As we understand from the above description, the whole social media brings the newer, better and more useful systems that are for everyone. Libraries have historically been places to receive information, create an environment to disseminate the information, but their role was very less in contributing information. With social media, the information is adding to the web every second and as information scientists, we should be part of this information flow for – organizing, disseminating, archiving, evaluating and systematizing for a better world. It is an ironic fact that libraries are part of the solution, but are not part of the problem.But as information professionals we are bound to deliver information service for the betterment of the society. Therefore, it is an imminent responsibility to understand social media and its implementation in service delivery and to be connected with our users.


Before we discuss on social media in libraries, let us understand Social Media and Web 2.0. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein (2010) say ‘social media is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundation of Web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content’. This conveys that the collective term of Web 2.0 application for information exchange is called Social Media.


Paul Miller (2005) in his work ‘Web 2.0: Building the New Library,’ says “Libraries should be seizing every opportunity to challenge these perceptions, and to push their genuinely valuable content, services and expertise out to place where people might stand to benefit from them; places where a user would rarely consider drawing upon a library for support.”


Now it’s time to understand what the computer and the Internet has introduced to our users, our libraries, and our profession. Let us question our self ‘are we technologically and culturally ready for these changes?’; ‘are we ready to deliver our service to iPods, laptops, smartphones, interactive webpages?


The next sections of this unit will help you to understand these technologies and explain how we can introduce them to library culture.


3. Are we ready for Social Media?


It is easy to learn the basics of Social media and get our library to have its presence up and running. At the same time, it brings responsibility and commitment which should not be taken lightly. You should provide a short period of time to spend on social media application. The tools available in social media to respond to your user, to interact, to upload the content, to share and to disseminate is very easy. Since the user has the privilege to allocate or share the activity to one or more persons, it helps us to distribute the workload among our staff or library supportive committees. This will bring the interaction, shared content, and make the web presence fresh.


The rich features in social media demands the librarians to – understand and learn the features; connect to the users for discussion, conversation, and community participation; adopt to different communication modes of choice (telephone, Skype, Instant Messaging (IM), Short Message System (SMS), texting, email, virtual reference, tweets, postings, etc.,); use of user-driven and user-developed content and commentary; and, to understand the activity of the social media crowd. This demands us (librarians) to know about the technology, its application, and user behavior.Hence, Stephen Abram (2005)says “Librarian 2.0 is the guru of information age”.


The best thing any librarian can do is to learn more about these tools and how they figure into our professional lives and our libraries. Learning to learn and taking time to play with such social media tools will help us to make our self ready for the next generation users and to prepare ourselves to be called as Librarian 2.0. (Some of the terms used in the description of social media tools are described in the glossary provided at the end of this unit. Before reading the next section, please visit the glossary section. )


4. Types of Social Media and their use in Libraries


In this section, let us learn about how to use social media tools for library services. We will learn about one tool in each of the category of social media identified by Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) and later will discuss about Library 2.0 Website and OPAC 2.0. Before learning about the social media tools, we will discuss about types of social media.


Social media is called “social” for a reason. It enables information exchange and gives direct access to our peer group for a person or customers/users for an organization / library. Social media can take many different forms, including internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, micro blogging, wikis, podcast, pictures, video, rating and social book marking. Based on the presence, features, processes and community involved, 6 typesof social media are identified – Communication, Collaborative Content Building, Multimedia Sharing, Review & Opinions, Entertainment; and, Monitoring. The services and the tools identified by Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) under each of the typeare discussed at the end of this unit as Types of Social Media.


Now, let us discuss some of the social media tools under each of the types.


5. Type 1: Communication


Communication type considers those sites which are the ways many people connect and interact online today. We use these tools to connect with friends, strangers, group with same interests, communities, and interested brand / product companies. Members send messages, post content or photo or image, video, express views, vote/ promote events and so on. In this type, let us discuss Facebook for library activities, which are listed under the sub-category Social Networking.


In this sub-section, we will learn about the brief history of the tool, its general features, and application to library. Further, it will introduce some references to suitable case studies to understand the implantation / application. References to selected videos which explain the concept and application are also provided for better understanding.


5.1.      Facebook




Facebook is a social network service and website launched in February 2004, owned by Facebook Inc. As on December 2013, Facebook has 650 million active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow computer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes (Carlson, 2005) at Harvard University to share the photographs of community to get comments. Initially, it was open for the Harvard community, later it was opened to other universities in Stanford, Columbia and Yale, further to the high schools in these university region and employees of Apple Inc. and Microsoft. Sean Parker, an entrepreneur who was the advisor to Zuckerberg for Facebook, found Facebook incorporated in 2004. On September 26, 2006, Facebook was opened to everyone of age 13 and older with a valid e-mail address (Abram, 2006).


Facebook is equipped


•    To share the user profile, photo, personal information, contact information

•    To share the public or private message

•    To chat

•    To create groups

•    To express like or unlike on the content place or posted

•    To send files as attachments

•    To provide news

•    To tag the content (both image and text)

•    To create blogs (allow the user to import data or posting from other blogs like xanga, blogger, livejournal, etc.)

•    To send virtual gifts

•      To provide personal name connected to facebook (www.facebook.com/sdmimd)


5.2. Application in Library


Libraries have always tested and implemented any new phenomenon or technology for their users. Facebook seems to be topic for research in library and information science since 2007 (Jacobson, 2011), the works mainly concentrate on sharing the experience of librarian, explaining the applicability of Facebook for library services and sharing the users feedback about the experience of library services in Facebook.

  • Instant messaging system – to answer the user queries over chat. This will help to attend the student reference queries. Further, this will help to attend to users beyond desk hours. The feature to indicate the ‘status’ (available, busy, online) will help to inform the students about your availability for services.
  • Developing user database – using the feature to create group, libraries may have the students’ profiles under different categories like undergraduates, graduates, postgraduates, faculty, staff, alumni, guests, etc.
  • Event posting- libraries can conduct online events in which users can share their thoughts on the topic of the event. The World Book Day, Librarian’s Day, Copyright Day, Social Media Day, Science Day, Father’s Day, Teacher’s Day, Mother’s Day, Friends Day, etc., celebrations of birth and death anniversary of prominent authors, Institute foundation day, alerting the user about the upcoming institute events, etc., can be conducted virtually using this tool.
  • Posting photographs – posting the photographs relevant to the events, photographs captured during the institute events, student achievements, faculty achievements, memorable photographs of the yester years of the institute, etc., will attract the student community and help the library to archive the information over the time-line.
  • Providing news – libraries can create the alert system using Google Alert by giving Keywords related to Institute, subject domain the user community is interested, the hot topic in the news, etc. Selected alerts from these can be shared with the community. This will enhance the visibility and visitors likes for the library Facebook page.
  • Blog – we can use the blog features in Facebook to inform the student about – the new arrivals, most borrowed book, collection available in relevance to the online event (please refer point 3 above), core reference books for a course, most cited article in an area of research, statistics on the use of database, introducing open access resources, etc., this will help the students to know about the collection and to comment on the posting made.
  • Sending virtual gifts–Facebook alerts us about the birthday, anniversary, and special occasion or about the student or faculty achievement. Libraries may send virtual gifts to these community members which make them to be part of library family. Such initiatives will bring librarian close to the community.


5.5. To know more

  • Facebook for Libraries.(2012). Retrieved April 14, 2014, from  http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/facebook-libraries
  • Facebook in the Library: Enhancing Services and Engaging Users. (2010).Scribd. Retrieved April 14, 2014, from services-and-engaging-users
  • Jacobson, T. B. (2011). Facebook as a Library Tool: Perceived vs. Actual UseCollege & Research Libraries, 72(1), 79–90.


6.  Type 2: Collaborative Content Building


In this type, let us learn about the Content Management Systems (CMS) as it is much used social media tool for organizing and disseminating content. A content management system is equipped with the add-on social media tools which allow the user for publishing, editing and modifying content. The administration of the entire operations is from a central interface. CMS has a well-defined procedure and workflow management for collaborative environment. In this sub-section, let us discuss Open Source Content Management System – Drupal and its adaptability in libraries. Since Drupal has the well-defined content management application (CMA) and the content delivery application (CDA) it has been introduced. Other CMS which can be considered are Joomla and WordPress.

6.1. Drupal

Dries Buytaert released Drupal as an open source project in 2001.Drupal is an English rendering of the Dutch word “druppel”, which means “drop” (as in “a water droplet”). Drupal is the widely accepted CMS across the world. It is deployed by the US Government and many other countries for managing content about the ministry. Drupal has his presence in the company websites too. As of February 2014, more than 1,015,000 sites are using Drupal, which includes corporations, companies, government, non-profit organizations, educational institutes, libraries and individuals. Drupal is now developed by a community. The releases, modules for different applications, interoperability standards, act as an evidence for its popularity and wide spread applications. Drupal has won several awards including the popular Packet Open Source CMS Awards and the Webware 100 (three times in a row).


6.2. Features in Drupal:


Drupal offers a sophisticated set of content management features, all of which are available through a web based administrative interface.

  • Interactive Web-based Publishing–The content can be published using web-based editor or rich text editor, which is similar to a word processor. Hence, barrier to know the code and web development language to place the content is not available.
  • Blocks for Content Organization–The content organization is controlled by providing Blocks. Hence, the user has an option to place the content as per his requirements. Further, it provides options to make the content visible or publish non-visible, to have URL as required. This feature helps the user to organize the menu under different sets and organize in different blocks.
  • Interactive Contact Forms–The web-based interactive forms are available in different formats for gathering information from users, conducting survey, opinion polls, etc. The system supports exporting the data in MS Excel and other formats for analysis. The basic reports generated by Drupal greatly meet the requirement of libraries.
  • Attractive Templates–Drupal suggests templates for different domains / areas, like education, corporate, entertainment, advertisement, etc., which ensure the consistent presentation of contents. These templates are available for free and offer interoperability of content in selected sets.
  • Tagging –Option to tag the content for easy classification, organize information into sections based on assigned tags, taxonomy, and cloud formation, is best among the other CMS. This feature helps Drupal to automatically display links to the most popular information in your site.
  • Page Layout–The rich features to create multi-column, multi-row layouts for presenting information, and deploy dynamic content within pre-defined regions on each page help the content developer to place information as per his requirements.
  • Workflow–Well defined approval workflows for content publication ensure the information properly reviewed before going live. Further, this feature supports the easy workflow and content transfer among team members.
  • Alert and Comments – Supports the administering and deployingof RSS feeds, Blogs, comments, forums and other user participative modules.
  • Pagination–The content or documents in the website are available for easy navigation and access through pagination. This feature greatly helps the visitor for easy reading and developer to create story for a specific period.
  • Access statistics and logging – The usage, visit, hits, downloads, logs, and other core statistical reports are well presented.
  • Content Search – The content search feature is very rich. It supports the search engine optimization and indexing to get hits for the site.
  • Updates and Support – Theupdates regarding security, templates, modules and other services are available through the active developer community. The multi-site support both in the system (Drupal) and from the community is very strong.
  • Security – The well-defined system to capture the information about the user and to allocate the privileges to control the access at various features.


6.3. Features specific to library


The library specific module in Drupal greatly supports metadata functionalities, controlled vocabularies, XML publishing, content creation, content management, publishing, and presentation. The following modules are available for Drupal –

  • MARC: http://drupal.org/project/marc
  • Bibliography (orDrupal Scholar): http://drupal.org/project/biblio
  • Z39.50: http://drupal.org/project/z3950
  • OAI‐PMH: http://drupal.org/project/oai2
  • OAI2 for CCK: http://drupal.org/project/oai2forcck
  • Faceted Search: http://drupal.org/project/faceted_search
  • the eXtensible Catalog (XC) Drupal Toolkit: http://drupal.org/project/xc
  • Dublin Core to CCK: http://drupal.org/project/dc2cck
  • EZProxy: http://drupal.org/project/ezproxy
  • Millenium OPAC Integration: http://drupal.org/project/millennium


Drupal being open source and tuned to adopt social media tools, it is possible to bring library specific modules easily. These modules are implemented in the examples shared at the end of this sub-section.


6.4. Application on Library


Drupal has the capability to help (academic) libraries in resource discovery, promotion, education, and advancement. It can also put a cohesive interface on information coming from different sites (catalog, digital collections, blogs, calendars, website) (Coombs, 2009). Apart from The AskUsservice, Library calendar (containing working hours, library events, library instruction, etc.), Links to subject guides, promoting resources (showcase of book jackets, new services, special announcements, etc.), Library News and Events blog, Promotion of the unique resources (Special Collections, Institute Archives), Integration with social media,Requests for feedback on library services or resources, and, Site Search, following are the services which can be introduced using modules available for library in Drupal.

  • The flexible page layout helps libraries to organize the resources and services in different panels and blocks. Example: About us, Resources, Services, Collections, Contact us.
  • The templates based design help the libraries to include modules for dates, calendars and events. This will help the library to provide information about events, library instructions, schedules, activities, etc. The add-on features like applying flag, adding to calendar, setting the schedule for discussion, etc., will make the librarian’s job easy.
  • Libraries can allow user to comment on the posting made in node or page. This helps to track the user behavior and feedback for each of the post or the activity.
  • The blog module helps to integrate the blogs present in blogger, wordpress, etc. It also provides rich feature to have the library blog.
  • The OPAC module helps to integrate the library OPAC on to the website. The OPAC will be treated as Block which can be placed as per the convenience of the library website structure.
  • The instant messaging system and status display greatly help the libraries to interact with the community. Sending message to a group or to an individual about the event, activity, alert, etc., is very easy when compared to other CMS.
  • We can create user friendly or search-engine friendly URL’s for making our library website compatibles for search engine optimization. This will also help us for having Faceted Search too.
  • The use of Tags created by the user community or the content developer in Drupal is appreciable. For creating cloud, for organizing content, for creating store, for directory listing, etc., the tags are the key source and it is well structured.
  • Other user friendly,salient features are RSS, creating survey, polls, flexibility to change the template, image handling, creation of contact forms and Webform with Captcha, and, defining workflow.


In a nutshell, we can say Drupal is the perfect CMS for having a Library 2.0 Website.

6.6. Videos



Alejandro Garza, (2009) From OPAC to CMS: Drupal as an extensible library platform, Library Hi Tech, 27(2), 252 – 267.


7.  Type 3: Multimedia Sharing


The multimedia resources like presentations (PPT, prezie, animated clip, cartoon clip, mythological serial clip, etc.,), video (movie clip, YouTube video, process explaining video, case study, etc.,) audio (the explanation of the concept by the author, audio book, etc.,) and photographs / graphics (photographs, table, maps, charts, etc.,) play a major role in teaching methodology. This further helps in innovation in the way the concepts are explained, discussed and put into practice. These resources have wider application from publishing industry to hospitals to engineering. Hence, providing awareness, access and availability at the right time to the right user become a challenging job for librarians. Social media tools greatly support this activity. In this section, let us understand what YouTube and Flicker can do for us.


7.1. YouTube

In February 2005, Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim the former employees of PayPal developed YouTube using Adobe Flash Video technology. The user-generated video content like movie clips, TV clips, music, education presentations, lectures, public videos, short films / videos are shared on YouTube. The user community includes individuals, companies, educational institutions and others. YouTube is a subsidiary company of Google Inc. after it was bought by the latter in November 2006. This video sharing provides options to the person uploading, to give title, tag, add a description, which make people to search the videos by keywords, and then set the security for the video. Options to make the video public or to a group is similar to that of Picasa, Flickr and other photo/image hosting services.


YouTube has certain user friendly features like playback, quality codes, 3D videos, content accessibility, platform independence, localization (regionalizing the accessibility of content), user reviews and comments, tagging, downloading the interested video, availability of video on Copy Left policy or Open Access policy, etc. These features have also made YouTube to attract certain criticism about copyright, privacy, controversial content, user comments, etc. Keeping these issues’s the librarians should have due-diligence in selection of content and providing service using YouTube to our community.


7.2. Application on Library

  • Developing Digital Video Library – the videos supporting the course curriculum and the teaching pedagogy can be identified from YouTube. After checking for the copyright, content and community requirements these videos can be embedded in a CMS page. The page can be properly titled to indicate the Digital Video Library of the subject relevance. Such aggregation will help the teaching community to a great extent. 100 Awesome YouTube Videos for Libraries is the best example.
  • Introducing Much Downloaded Video – the library website may share the most downloaded video relevant to the celebration – world book day, environmental day, father day, mother day, etc., to build awareness about the celebration and importance. The Library of Congress account in YouTube has the well-organized video resources.
  • Training Videos Library – YouTube is known for having good collection of training videos on the application of software, user education, guides and tutorials supportive videos. Libraries may use these videos integrated to the OPAC with proper Metadata description. This will enhance the richness of



  • Uploading Institutional Videos – the video clips of the guest lectures, institute events, important celebrations / meet like conference, seminar, library guides, walk-through of institute, user orientations, etc., captured at the institute or organization or company may be uploaded to the YouTube. This will help to share among the community, alumni and other stake holders. The library service introduction video by MMU is cited as case study below.


7.3. Case Studies


7.4. To know more

7.5. Flicker


Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake of Ludicorp launched Flickrin2004. Flickr is an image hosting social media service provider. It is also known for sharing video also. In 2005 Yahoo took over Flickr and made it more interactive. Flickr supports the sharing of photographs on public or to a group or to an individual and provides tools for organizing the photograph in more presentable manner. The content provider / user have option to tag the content, comment, review and polling. Option to provide relative metadata for the uploaded content (photo or image) is also available. The content uploaded in Flickr can be embedded to a website, blog, Facebook or any other social media platform. Flickr is said to be the most liked and powerful photo storing and sharing social media tool available for free.


7.6. Application on Library


•    The services identified and listed for YouTube can be introduced using Flickr


7.7.  Case Studies


The British Library







8.  Type 4: Review & Opinion


The reviews & opinion of the community (user community) is the key source to decide the future action or creation of blueprint for future. Since the tools discussed above under Communication, Collaborative Content Creation, and Media sharing have provided the usage data, reviews by users, survey and poll data, etc. additional tools are not discussed here. Also, the data provided by these tools are exhaustive and could provide sufficient information for librarians for decision making.


Drupal recommends and provides modules to integrate and get data from sources which use the social media tools discussed in this section.


For information about social media tools under this category, MouthShut.com for product reviews; Yahoo Answers, Askville and WikiAnswers for community Q & A; are the most popular ones.


9.  Type 5:Entertainment


We should understand that libraries are not only for reading and reference.It reconnects communities around the educational segment. Libraries are also places for recreation and social value which create community gathering, socialization, and cultural enrichment. Libraries always look for ways to reach beyond their traditional patron base to reach more users. Entertainment is the key tool for such initiatives. Providing information about games, storytelling, cultural events, etc. which can generate interest and give knowledge about the act is one of the activities which can be part of the library outreach program. Use of social media tools in this outreach activity will be a cost-effective and user-effective solution.


Integrating media and entertainment platforms like Cisco Eos in Drupal is attempted in libraries in US. This helps to get the information /solutions from media and entertainment companies through which users will get information about the products, interact and have online communities for the product. Eos supports all entertainment genres and incorporates social networking, content management, site administration, and audience analytics features into a single operating environment, using CMS like Drupal.


To give an experience of Virtual worlds, we can introduce our users to Active Worlds or Second Life. The game sharing through Sims Online, Kongregate, Miniclip, etc. will help the user to get recreated and move out of academic stress.


10.  Type 6: Monitoring


When we adopt social media tools and have our presence on the web, we are committed to spend time, resource and cost for the community. This applies for libraries too. We spend time on creating content, posting updates; engage with our community, updating the pages, enhancing the web properties, etc. At some point we should stop and look back and evaluate to see – Is our effort is paying (getting) the result as expected? This demands the numbers pertaining to your online community, the posts, the hours spent on chat, the survey data, poll data, like or unlike data, the traffic, hits, user opinions, etc. Proper analysis of these data will help us to understand our community, know the effectiveness of service and helps in decision making.


Social media tools are inbuilt with certain analytical tools which provide substantial data and analysis. The Facebook insight, YouTube analytics, Drupal Reports, provide reports with substantial information for decision making. There are certain tools which support the social media page analysis and reporting like Attensity, Statsit, Sysomos, Vocus. These tools demand minimal level of knowledge about data synchronization, statistical analysis and web analytics.

In the earlier sections, we discussed and understood how to use social media tools for extending library services. Except the library website developed using Drupal, other services are independent services for specific activity. The discussion we made above on the said 6 types / categories of social media gave us an understanding about what are the social media tools available in each of these categories? What are the features available in these tools? How can we bring / introduce these tools for library services?


However, the use of social media tools also brings responsibility, commitment, adherence to best practices, criticisms, and appreciations too. We should implement these tools with due-diligence for the services. We should always keep in mind that we are representing an organization or institution in our web presence; and for community, we will be representing the stake holders of the organization. All these demand a strategic plan in the implementation of social media tools.


10.2. Integration of Social Media Tools in to OPAC


In the subsequent section, we will study about (OPAC) Online Public Access Catalogue 2.0. OPAC, which is termed as the information gateway for the entire library resources, need to be equipped with social media tools for better search, presentation, retrieval and interaction. Integrating OPAC with the library website is the trend for the day and, hence, this section is introduced. Before discussing how to integrate social media tools into OPAC to make it as OPAC 2.0, let us understand what makes OPAC 2.0?


10.3. What is OPAC 2.0?


OPAC, as a distinct module of Integrated Library System (ILS) has made appearance substantively in the mid-1980s. The OPAC basically fulfills two functions – locating documents based on known details (e.g. subject / keyword, author, etc.); and, identifying the documents in the database that cover a given search term and providing the details on the document to the user. The OPAC has its importance as the window to access information about library collection; supporting administration in housekeeping activities; and, service presentation layer to the user community. The OPAC is expected to be ‘user centric’ than ‘librarian centric’ by layout, presentation, services, options and usability.


OPAC 2.0 is the evolved /matured library search window of OPAC. It is expected to have sophisticated search technology; relevancy ranking; faceted search; user participation for tagging, review, comments, liking, polling; interaction with library with chat, instant messaging; integration with other web sources like Amazon, Google, etc., for information enhancing; and, dynamic for interoperable standards.


To address these requirements, the discovery layer was superimposed on to the existing OPAC making it OPAC 2.0. MitaWiliams was the first to use the concept ‘discovery layer’ in connection with OPACs. Even though we see a lot of activity towards developing, introducing and deploying next generation catalogs or discovery tools, there is no single definition of what constitutes a next generation catalog or OPAC 2.0 (Breeding, 2007). However, for understanding and to introduce the concept, let us consider following definitions:


“The next generation library catalogue is expected to gather a broader set of information, resources, and services into a single interface that is more comprehensive in scope and more modern in presentation.” (Breeding, 2007)


“The next generation library catalogue provide search and discovery functionality, and may include features such as relevance ranking, spell checking, tagging, enhanced content, search facets” (OLE Project, 2009)


“The discovery tool promise to provide a single interface to multiple resources based on using a centralized consolidated index to provide faster and better search results.” (Hane, 2009)


Being aware of the developments in the Web 2.0 technologies by the use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools; and having used Amazon, Google Scholar, EBSCO Discovery Service and other discovery embedded sites; the author opines that the term ‘current-generation catalogue’ will be more appropriate instead of ‘next-generation catalogue’. This was also opined by Breeding (2007) in explaining the concept of ‘Discovery Tool’.


With the importance highlighted about OPAC in the above paragraphs, let us study the salient features of OPAC 2.0. These basic features should be considered while selecting suitable OPAC 2.0 tool or discovery layer tool.

  • Design and Layout: The home page or the OPAC page should be framed for suitable navigation and should support the user in better understanding of search functionality and features available.
  • Single Search Box: Instead of confusing the user with the option for basic search, advanced search, field search, etc. it should provide a single search window, which leads the user to narrow down his search by options available with the search results categorization.
  • Integration of databases: While the library collections have shifted towards proportions of electronic content, the traditional approach to library catalogue failed to accommodate the article level searching, integration of subscribed databases, digital repositories available in the institute and on Open Archive repositories. OPAC 2.0should accommodate different database(s).
  • Search results categorization: The key dissatisfaction about the ILS OPAC was the display of search results. The ILS OPAC dump the search result without any organization, this demanded the human intervention to understand the result and location of document. The search results of the discovery tool should be categorized into different sets such as Location, Language, Date / Period, Format, Author(s) with number of documents, Subject heading, Type, etc. This will greatly help the user to refine their results by clicking on the various d facets.
  • Catalogue Display: This feature is totally dependent on the catalogue display or individual record display of Amazon. The catalogue display is expected to present the detailed information about the resource, the cover image of the content – in case of published sources, comments, ratings, referring to other resource of the same category, electronic resources appended, information about the supplements accompanied if any, etc.,
  • Spell Checking and Leading: The current users being tuned to the SMS (Short Message Service – communication service component of GSM mobile communication system) English, the computer auto spell feature and due to problem with the language expression, it is observed that they greatly fail to express the correct spelling in the search box. To overcome this, user expects the OPAC to guide them towards the correct word and lead them to place the correct string. This feature was examined with the search feature available in Google.
  • Integration with library house-keeping modules: The level of integration with the library house-keeping modules greatly depends on the success of the discovery tool. Providing details about a resource is the primary aim of the OPAC, but discovery tool should perform better by informing about the location; status; if issued, then option to reserve; if library does not hold the document, the option to place request; request for holds; etc. Further, the discovery tool should be able to use the Web 2.0 features to provide alerts service about the request and the services.
  • User Participation: The key characteristic for the success of Web 2.0 based services is allowing user to participate, contribute and distribute his content, views, comments, etc. The discovery tool should provide option to comment, present reviews, ratings, rankings, tag, and cloud to create access points, etc. These features greatly contribute in organizing, archiving and disseminating the user contribution on library collection and services.
  • Alert Services: This feature was examined by the service available in social network sites such as Facebook, twitter, etc. Here, the discovery tool is expected to support the alert services pertaining to comments on the postings made, reservation status, hold status, requested document status, alerts from the library, etc.
  • Implementation Support: The issues pertaining to the support extended by the developers concerning to implementation; customization; code and schema; the license for distribution and upgrade support should be considered in selecting the discovery layer. Further, the aspects pertaining to community, number of download, age, the versions, etc. d should be considered.


The two discovery tools – VuFind and LibraryFind are equipped with above listed features, thus these two are competent enough to offer OPAC 2.0 for libraries (Harinarayana, 2010). The other tools in the open source arena Blacklight, Fac-Back-OPAC, Rapi, Scriblio (WPopac), SOPAC (Social OPAC), have shown good attempt.


Often it is criticized that OPACs are developed keeping ‘librarians operational convenience’ in mind. Tennant (2005) puts across this criticism sarcastically by saying “After all, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still very much a pig”. Thus by saying this, he tries to highlight the uselessness of the glorified monolithic ILS OPAC features. Keeping this criticism on the back of mindone has to evaluate the above listed features in the discovery tools before selecting and implementing for library. The evaluation should be driven by user needs rather than the librarian operational convenience. Analogous to this, the librarians should contribute greatly to bring the features that are available, introduced and framed in the search engines, e-commerce portals and commercial products. Gradually the key features like standards, interoperability and openness, in discovery tools should be examined in bringing features available in social media tools in OPAC.

10.5. To know more
  • William Denton, Sarah J. Coysh, (2011) Usability testing of VuFind at an academic library, Library Hi Tech, 29(2), 301 – 319.
  • Birong Ho, Keith Kelley, Scott Garrison, (2009) Implementing VuFind as an alternative to Voyager’s WebVoyage interface: One library’s experience, Library Hi Tech, 27(1), 82 – 92.
  • John Houser, (2009) The VuFind implementation at Villanova University, Library Hi Tech, 27(1), 93 – 105


10.6. LibraryThing


If you want to experience what OPAC 2.0 looks like and to create a test -bed for your collection, Gurulib, LibraryThing and Shelfari are the freely available tools. It is easy to have your collection on to any of the three if your bibliographical database obeys Z39.06 compliance. These applications make your OPAC visible on Web equipped with Web 2.0 features. All the 3 tools are similar in service, however LibraryThing shows wider acceptance. This may be due to its capacity to integrate wide range of library catalogues, Unicode compliance, not allowing advertisements, and, easy interface. LibraryThing allows you to add 200 titles without any fee and charges $15 per year to increase from 200 to 5000. Ofcourse, there are no hosting and support charges.


10.7. To know more


11.  Summary


Adopting social media in library enhances the visibility of the collection, service and importance of library; along with these benefits it also brings responsibilities too. These service demands commitment, update about the current technological trends, regular monitoring, and marketing of the service or product. Developing social media enabled services will go a long way towards developing a dynamic and interactive library.But this demands constant monitoring of user needs and expectations. So, as said in the beginning of this unit, ‘we are not the part of the problem, but we are the part of solution’, hence implementation, service delivery and enhancement of any library service should have a structured Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat (SWOT) analysis to have a win-win situation for both the information service providers and information users.

you can view video on Application of Social Media for Library Services

12.      References