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December 17, 2007
Writing about web page http://www.internet-librarian.com/Presentations/C106_Lawson.pps
Social software can be as good as any place for promotional marketing if you want to invest in creeping up to your customers and performing a marketing stunt. However, the social software might not to allow for an efficient and scalable virtual reference service.
This succinct report (Buckley Owen, 2007) of the presentation by Lawson (2007) will be useful to make this distinction: “Finally, Dawn Lawson of New York University Libraries describes her experiences using Facebook to reach potential library patrons. She managed 24 replies from the 140 students in her subject speciality, including five reference requests. But she also nearly got banned by Facebook, which outlaws bulk messaging amid fears of spam. She had to get round it by varying the text of her messages and sending them very slowly – one every five minutes.”
I suppose one could set up a virtual reference service using software designed for that, Question Point or similar, and then create entry points on Facebook, MySpace, Second Life, etc. This way you can go where your customers are, yet retain an operational service structure in case you do get any custom!
Buckley Owen, T. (2007) Embrace 2.0 – or you might as well retire. Library + Information Gazette, 2 November, p.17