whose space?

The more I think about it, the more I can’t believe I haven’t seen tons of blog posts about libraries and MySpace, the most successful (read: used) social networking site to date. Maybe I’m just not subscribed to the right blogs. First, if you’re not familiar with this internet trend (de jour?), here’s a blurb from wikipedia:

Due to the popularity of the website (over 45 million users)[are any of these , it has been suggested that a unique culture, mostly within the alternative scene, is developing within the MySpace network. It appeals to young adults, and because of the interactivity between users, many people also discover new groups of people or bands by looking through other people’s profiles and their lists of friends and contacts. Additionally, the easy communication and built-in focus on pictures has helped MySpace become a haven for the creation of new trends and the dissemination of current ones.[emphasis mine]

Clicking around the site for yourself will be a good introduction too. With all of the (awesome) talk going on about being where our users are, MySpace seems to be an elephant in our libraries. Kids are telling us right where they are. Can it get any more obvious than “This is my space?” Shouldn’t we be there?

I’m no prude, but I must say that not all is rosy with MySpace. Some kids are using it to be sexually provocative, and talk about things like their use drugs and alcohol. This is fairly typical stuff for teens to talk about, surely, but something about it being on the web for all to see, potentially forever, makes me wish there was some better judgment being used. This grey content might make many librarians want to stay far, far away from MySpace, but it might be all the more reason to get involved. Don’t young people need role models?

Here’s the MySpace page for the Thomas Ford Memorial Library. I haven’t done much with it yet, and haven’t promoted it at all. There’s just one blog post, and our contact information. Some people that work at the library have added us as their “friend” and vice-versa. I have a vision in which MySpace users from the community add the library as a “friend,” most likely because it will be funny to them. As a friend, the library will be able to send them announcements of events, and other news.. Another aspect to MySpace is the Instant Messaging going on within. I’m starting to hear of kids doing most of their IMming within MySpace. Hmm….

I could see a library program about starting a MySpace page to be a failure. The site isn’t difficult to use, and kids are more likely to just do it than go to a class about it. However, I wonder if an impromptu “Making your MySpace Awesome” session would work. More important than trying to force education about MySpace is to teach by example and be a responsible, and interesting user of the site.

18 thoughts on “whose space?”

  1. Hmm….you might be interested to know that websense (the filtering software we use where I work) has MySpace blocked as a “personals and dating” site.

    The only time I’ve had anyone ask about it at the ref desk was a dad who was here with his teen daughter. She wanted to set up a myspace page and dad was freaking out about her sharing personal information online. I’m surprised we haven’t had more kids complain about it being blocked.

  2. It might be hard for the library to get an account if it is blocked! Doh! I too have had parents ask about their kids’ content on MySpace. Touchy subject, huh?

  3. I just learned that it’s only blocked on some staff accounts–some glitch with updating software. So, there’s MySpace for those who don’t have parents glaring over their shoulders!

  4. I’ve posted about it at my blog:

    http://lisnews.org/~Samantha/journal/4010

    But I’m not a Big Name Librarian so it was likely overlooked. :-)

    MySpace and the like definitely have some interesting potential and I was very excited to see what y’all are doing with MySpace. I friended your library so as to keep track of what you do with it.

  5. My Space is not just for those twenty-somethings… my husband had to get an account because he wanted to see the xmas party pics his (late-20-something) son had posted. You can only view a few pics until you sign up for an account. After joining, he discovered his other son, daughter-in-law, and a lot of his co-workers all have myspace accounts.

    One of his co-workers/friend of mine told me last night in no uncertain terms “You HAVE to get on myspace so I can leave you weird comments on pictures.”
    I had posted my pics from that same xmas party on flickr. (I wonder if she realizes she can comment there.)

    Bottom line: myspace is more important to HER because that’s where HER account is.
    My choice in the matter is inconsequential.
    Welcome to Friendships 2.0
    :)

  6. Hmm, an interesting observation, “Friendships 2.0” I just hope it does not become the next viral meme (I am getting so sick of the L2 one). At any rate, I go to this post from LIB. I had read the _BusinessWeek_ article a while back. A lot of our students on our campus use either MySpace or Facebook. I think the majority goes for Facebook. I wrote a bit on the privacy issue of Facebook, the idea of posting your pictures getting drunk that an employer could dig up down the road on a Google search kind of precautionary post (then again, I am nowhere near famous, so likely lost in the stream kind of post, c’est la vie). However, I have not thought about getting an account myself. My director has a MySpace account, and cool as she is, I have not felt move to get myself an account. At this point it seems like yet another account to mind along with my blogs, my delicious, my e-mails, and a couple other things. However, I am open to the idea, so I am certainly keeping an eye on the conversations, seeing if it works for others, seeing if maybe they convince me to jump in as well. The library MySpace idea sounds intriguing as well, while I don’t think we are quite ready as of yet, I can see possibilities. Actually, as I am typing this comment, I am seeing possibilities in terms of outreach and library instruction. Hmm. Well folks, thanks for reading this and allowing me to reflect a little as I reply. Best, and keep on blogging.

  7. Very cool My Space page! I was just wondering about library presence in MS/ Facebook yesterday when probably a majority of users on our comps were on Facebook. I’ll second the fact that Facebook seems more popular for college kids. We get tons of people browsing there in the library (and when they should be paying attention in IL sessions). Not as familiar w/ how Facebook works and if it is more than a dating/ friendship site but I think the idea of library My Space pages in great. There are tons of bands/ record labels etc who use MS for marketing purposes so why not your local library too?

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