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.