This study looks at the influence of social networking sites and library 2.0 as a gateway to information access and knowledge sharing in Prof. Festus AghagboNwako Library, NnamdiAzikwe University, Awka. The study sought to determine the various social networking sites available at PFAN library website, the extent of use of library 2.0 tools in PFAN to provide information access and knowledge sharing and the level of influence of social networking and library 2.0, in accessing library services in PFAN library. Five questions guided the study and descriptive survey were used as the research design. Also, all the 23 professional librarians in PFAN library were used as sample for the study. Data from each research question were collected and analyzed for easy interpretation. Statistically, simple mean method was used for data analysis. The study revealed that the available social networking sites in PFAN library website were Facebook, Instant Messaging, Twitter, Linkedin and blog. Also, the study showed that the extent of use of library 2.0 tools to provide information access in the library were very low. Findings from the study also revealed, that the level of influence of social networking sites and library 2.0 for accessing library services was very low and that the challenges to use of social networking sites and library 2.0 for information access and knowledge sharing were due to lack of ICT skills by librarians and cost of ICT equipment among others. Appropriate recommendations such as training of librarians in the use of ICT and social media and seeking of alternative means of funding by the libraries were made
Background to the Study
From time immemorial information management, i.e. knowledge collection, selection, preservation and transmission, has being the exclusive responsibility of library as an institution. One of the key tasks of information and library professionals is to manage and present functional information to users.
With the influx of new technologies – the personal computers, the Internet and World Wide Web (www), knowledge dissemination has drastically changed. Potential library usersnowhave many options beyond the traditional one of walking into a physical building to get useful information. There are now thousands of commercial search engines that provide information, even more than what any single physical library can give. The question now is, how can librarianship thrive in the face of these new technologies? How can we reach students and other library users if they don’t come into our physical or cyber space domains? How can we maintain our traditional role as knowledge custodians? One obvious answer is to go to them.
Social media platform provides the potential to promptly take information resources and services to users at anytime and anywhere. And because of its resourcefulness, adaptability and expediency, social media has become an integral part of modern world. It constitutes a very dynamic aspect of the mass media that has not only grown in popularity, but has also become the mainstream. Social media provides its numerous users with profound and rich experience in interaction, partnership and collaboration. Also, it constitutes one of the technological tools the modern society has bequeathed to humanity to help shrink the world into what has aptly been described as global village. Social media is a product of technologies of the Internet and the Web helping to restructure where, when, and from whom we learn. In providing the context to his discourse on social media, Curtis (2011) describes social media as Internet sites where people interact freely, sharing and discussing information about each other and their lives, using a multimedia mix of personal words, pictures, videos and audio.
Social media is varied and appears in different forms and shapes. A number of authors have attempted to categorize social media into some groupings. Gu and Widen-Wulff (2010), for example, classify social media tools for scholarly communication into eight slightly different categories, namely: blogs, mini blogs, RSS, wikis, tagging, social networks, multimedia sharing, and online documents. Curtis (2013) also notes that social media can be seen in blogs and microblogs, forums and message boards, social networks, wikis, virtual worlds, social bookmarking, tagging and news, writing communities, digital storytelling and scrapbooking, and data, content, image and video sharing, podcast portals, and collective intelligence. However, this paper shall focus on social networks as a gateway for information access.
Social networking as a term is new, but the ideas behind it such as sharing content, collaborating with others and creating a community have been around as long as man exists. Literarily, social networking is described as the grouping of individuals into specific groups, like small rural communities or a neighborhood subdivision. An online dictionary, wiki (2009) defined Social networking as the interaction between a group of people who share a common interest.
Social networking is the enabling platform for people to build up connection of friends and associates. It builds and creates links between different people irrespective of time, location, and space. Although social networking is possible in person, especially in schools or in the workplace, it is currently most popular online. This is because unlike most high schools, colleges, workplaces or religious institutions, the Internet connects millions of individuals who are eager to meet other internet users to develop friendships and business relationships. When it comes to online social networking, websites are commonly used. These websites are known as social sites. Social networking websites are an online community of Internet users. This new technology is capable of making the contribution of content and interaction with other people faster, easier and more accessible to a wider population than it’s ever been before.
Danah and Nicole (2007) define social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and organization of these connections may vary from site to site. There are more than a thousand of such social sites. However the most important thing about social networks is that it enables information to be shared to a vast group of people who give their feedback or update the information.
Therefore, the use and application of social media platforms to perform the functions of library and information dissemination has been seen as a part of Web 2.0 or its derivative, Library 2.0, which Casey and Savastinuk (2006) describe as the heart of user-centred change. The authors further noted that Library 2.0 is a model for library service that encourages constant and purposeful change, inviting user participation in the creation of both the physical and the virtual services they want, supported by consistently evaluating services. Library 2.0 involves the use of social media software tools in providing information services and emphasizing online collaboration and participation of the clients. Social media presents new ideas and philosophy of providing highly quality, collaborative and participatory service. The versatility of social media makes it compelling for various strata of socio-political and economic spheres to adopt it for their gains.
In essence the use of any social networking site to promote library services, constitutes library 2.0. According to Miller (2006) Library 2.0 invites and facilitates the culture of participation, drawing on the perspectives and contributions of staff, technology partners and the wider user community. This concept is exemplified in wikis, blogs, RSS and social bookmarking systems facilitated by Web 2.0 technologies. Cho (2008) explains that Library 2.0 not only encourages user participation and feedback in the development and maintenance of library services: it is continually evaluated and updated by users and librarians to meet the changing needs of library users. He also adds that the active and empowered library user is a significant component of Library 2.0. With information and ideas flowing in both directions – from the library to the user and from the user to the library – library services offered in a Library 2.0 environment have the ability to evolve and improve on a constant and rapid basis. Thus, the user becomes an active participant, co-creator, builder and consultant of the library services and products. In other words, the use of social networking sites and library 2.0 ensures easier access to information.
Social networking and library 2.0 plays an important part in the lives of a great proportion of library clientele especially students. According to Marshall (2007).The more information and library professionals use social networking environment like Facebook, the more they will discover good ways to use it to improve library services and to expand their outreach.
For the fact that Facebook seems to be an all-encompassing part of student life, librarians can make good use of it. Social networking sites, especially Facebook, have several options and opportunities that libraries can grab to create future for library clientele. Social networking sites – for instance, Facebook, is a low-cost technology tool that can expand library outreach beyond limited library budgets.
Social media sites such as Facebook, blogspot, twitter could be used as an avenue for library outreach to students. Libraries through library 2.0 could create their presence on Facebook in formation of Groups or Pages. Also, they could employ the service of “Internet librarian” or social-networking librarian” who will be available all day round to repartee or chat with students, researcher and other library users, answering late night questions ranging from trivia to last minute-assignment-due in the morning information emergencies.
As a result of the popularity of social networking amongtodayspotential library users and the use of library 2.0 by libraries to meet these ubiquitous users in their comfort zone. This paper therefore sets out to examine the influence of social networking and library 2.0 as a gateway for information access and knowledge sharing.
Statement of the Problem
The social and communication pattern of our society are being shifted by the influx of Social media products and services such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Bloggers WordPress, Delicious etc. Undeniably, this development has direct impact on various aspects of library and information services; starting from how we find information online, to the ways libraries reach out and relate with their clientele.
The ubiquity of online networked social space presents librarians with an opportunity to become members of user community and thereby integrate library resources and services at point of need and point-of-discovery in ways previous models of library outreach could not obtain.Participating in networked social space is particularly valuable for connecting with other students for whom the library is unfortunately alien and mystifying entity.
Moreover, a networked social space provides information and library professionals’ opportunity to cordially relate among themselves thereby encouraging social association, professional partnership and scholastic collaboration. However, despite thebenefits of use of these social network’s and library 2.0 tools, there appears to be hardly any change as regards the use of library resources or awareness of online presence of the library by users. Also,it seems as though librarians are only paying lip service regarding the importance of social networking sites and library 2.0 tools for information dissemination and knowledge sharing. In otherwords, it seems that librarians are not really cognizant of the power of social media and the opportunities inherent in using them to promote library services. This is because although most libraries have a Facebook group or fan page, these groups are hardly updated or current. Furthermore, other social networking sites and library 2.0 portals such as library blogs, twitter handle, IM and even a whatsapp group are none existent and even those available are hardly been used or kept up-to date. There is no doubt that good use of these technologies willhave a profound impact on library services.
This study therefore seeks to explore the influence of social networking and library 2.0 as a gateway for information access and knowledge sharing in Prof. Festus AghaboNwako library, NnamdiAzikiwe University,Awka.
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study is to access the influence of social networking and library 2.0 as a gateway for information access and knowledge sharing in Prof. Festus AghagboNwako Library, NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka. Specifically the study seeks to;
- Identify the various social networking sites used by PFAN library.
- Identify the level of use of library 2.0 tools in PFAN to provide information access and knowledge sharing.
- Identify the level of influence of social networking and library 2.0, on information access and knowledge sharing in PFAN library.
- Identify challenges to use of social networking and library 2.0 in PFAN library.
- Identify possible solutions to these challenges.
Significance of the Study
The result or findings from this study will be of immense benefit to libraries, librarians, library patrons, higher institutions and the society at large.
To libraries, findings from this study will increase the use of their resources. This is because of their ability to reach wide range of users online and provide functional information to them. There is no doubt that libraries are known for their quality and accurate information, so findings from this study will enable them prove to their current and potential users that there is no other institution that provides well packaged information as good as libraries. Also, findings from this study will help libraries remain relevant in this IT age. It will give them competitive edge over other information providers in the industry. It will also, improve their services in terms of efficiency, timeousness and customer feedback.
Secondly to librarians, findings from this study will equip them with the necessary skill to be able to serve their IT savvy users. It will enable them to easily migrate from their role as traditional librarians to techno-librarians. From this study, librarians will become competent, efficient and effective in meeting the information needs of their users. Also, they will be exposed to other professionals through collaboration, which will hasten interlibrary borrowing and exchange of ideas among others.
Thirdly, to library patrons. The findings from this study will expose them to what the library has to offer through social media. It will bring to their awareness the benefit of using the library as their main source of information and most importantly it will show them how they can access these services on their social media. In addition, findings from this study will improve the academic performance of students as library services are now available at their finger tips and as librarians are now their friends on Facebook.
Furthermore, findings from this study will be of benefit to higher institutions. The reason is because faster and more convenient library service will not only improve students’ performance academically but it will also improve research and development in the institution which will boost their income and reputation as the case maybe.
Finally, to the society at large. The findings from this study will not only provide well educated members of the society as a result of effective library services, it will extend the same education to the society through online education and distance learning programs offered by their institutions.
Scope of the Study
This study is delimited to Prof. Festus AghagboNwako library, NnamdiAzikiwe University, Awka. The content scope includes influence of social networking and library 2.0 as a gateway for information access and knowledge sharing.
- What are the various social networking sites used by PFAN library?
- What is the level of use of library 2.0 tools to provide information access in PFANlibrary?
- What is the level of influence of social networking sites and library 2.0 on information access and knowledge sharing in PFAN library?
- What are the challenges to use of social networking sites and library 2.0 tools in PFAN library?
- What are the possible solutions to these challenges?