Facebook Users Prefer In-Person Librarian Interactions

As a result of this post, Eric Frierson, Donna Hayward and I bought a poll question on facebook to find out how facebook users prefer to contact their librarians.

Here’s how the poll question appeared in the News Feed of selected Facebook users in the Michigan network:
Facebook Librarian Poll
See the results below

The first thing that stands out is that only 1 out of 200 said they’d prefer to get research help from a librarian on facebook. I don’t suppose this is too surprising because I don’t think people quite yet consider social networking a research tool. I hope this isn’t disconcerting to librarians on facebook because I think there’s still potential here… What I do find really encouraging is that only 38 out of 200 said they weren’t at all interested in contacting a librarian – that’s pretty good! And it looks like in-person interactions are still tops. On a side note, I think it’s really unfortunate that the oldest age range option for the survey is 35-49. So there’s no one over 49 on facebook!?

Facebook Poll Results

10 thoughts on “Facebook Users Prefer In-Person Librarian Interactions”

  1. I’m just starting to establish myself as a librarian on Facebook, so this information comes at a great time. I agree that the low number for reference via Facebook is disappointing, but I never really saw myself doing a lot of reference work in Facebook anyway. I see it as more of a way to get connected to students so that they know who I am and what I can do for them. Then, when we have a chance to meet later on – either face to face or in other digital areas – they will already know who I am and feel comfortable about talking to me. At least, that’s how I hope it goes. Thanks again for the great poll results.

  2. Why on earth would anyone call “encouraging” the fact that 38 out of 200 users have no interest in contacting a librarian. “Depressing” seems like a more logical response–along with frustration that there is no way to follow-up with the 38 to ask “why?”

  3. Thanks for you comment, Stuart. I think the fact that 81% of Facebook users are interested in contacting a librarian at all is pretty good! Sure, I’d love it if 100% were interested, but I think it’d be unreasonable to expect that. After spending just 3 years at a reference desk and helping many a college senior with their first library experience I do see 81% as a strong number.
    And of course It’d be nice to know “why” but this was a quick closed ended poll. We do plan to do a more thorough survey of our students in the fall which will hopefully be the first in a series. I’ll be sure to post those results here.

  4. Do you think that Facebook users would say that their preferred method of contacting friends is via Facebook? Yet isn’t that why they go to Facebook?
    So, maybe we need to find a way to measure the practicality of Facebook reference that doesn’t use a ranking system. (Which is kinda how I read this survey question.)

  5. Stacy – I agree that it’d be nice to be able to gage Facebook reference in other ways. I also wonder how the results would have been different if there was more flexibility from Facebook in how you can formulate a poll question. For example, if we were allowed to let respondents choose more than one option, we could change the wording from “What is your preferred method for getting research help from a librarian” to something like “What methods for getting research help from a librarian are you interested in (choose all that apply).” I bet there’d be a lot more who would choose Facebook.

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