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Sunday, September 15 • 10:31am - 10:50am
“Online community building in an academic context: A university library case study”

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In recent years libraries have begun to recognize and embrace social media as a valuable form of communication, and a new area of examination has subsequently developed that attempts to qualify that value.* Many of these studies represent a preliminary examination of social networking and social media within the context of the academic library, though few studies move beyond practical descriptions of social media as a tool for marketing and promoting library collections and services. The present paper extends recent research related to social media usage in academic libraries by offering a deeper focus on the nature and value of converting members of online communities into active library users. By using and analyzing social media services as more than broadcast platforms for promotion, social media offers a value for libraries and higher education in the form of online community conversions. 

In examining social media data and activity, the authors discuss the strongest indicators of library user conversion behavior and present findings related to the conversion value of online community engagement. Discussion involves relevant tools and strategies for building online communities via social media, with a central analysis of the effects and value of community growth and engagement for the Montana State University library. Over the previous 12-month period the library at Montana State University has dedicated resources to building, engaging, and measuring community through the application of social media, namely Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Instagram. In this paper, the analysis of quantitative data from web analytics and social media management tools is combined with the analysis of qualitative data from undergraduate student focus groups to explore online communities in an academic context. 

Online communities can be developed, tracked, and analyzed through analytics and insight tools such as ThinkUp and Google Analytics, and contextualized with focus groups and social media content analysis. The authors examine quantitative and qualitative data to identify a three-stage conversion process that tracks users first from online community activity, then to online and offline library usage, and finally to library and university championing. This research represents a new perspective on the value of social networks formed through social media, and offers an instructive case study for academic and non-academic libraries, organizations of higher education, and other cultural institutions. 

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avatar for Doralyn Rossmann

Doralyn Rossmann

Dean of the Library, Montana State University
avatar for Scott W.H. Young

Scott W.H. Young

User Experience & Assessment Librarian, Montana State University
Hi. I'm Scott, a librarian and designer building a human-centered library at Montana State University.

Sunday September 15, 2013 10:31am - 10:50am EDT
ROWE 1020

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