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"Okay, This is Just Too Weird" Identifying Outreach Opportunities in Facebook Open Access

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The tremendous popularity of social networking sites like Facebook presents libraries with unique opportunities for reaching students. What many organizations fail to realize, however, is that the presence of professors, librarians, or parents in this social space is often perceived as intrusive, unwelcome, or just plain "weird". Researchers at a small university library decided to take a step back and ask a critical question: what do our students really want? That is, how do our students really use Facebook, and what part can the library play in this social environment? The library literature provides some insights; many of these recommendations, however, are from the perspective of librarians and do not reflect students' expectations, experiences, or preferences. Researchers conducted a mixed methods study of students' use of Facebook, focusing on the intersection of students' academic and social lives in this platform. Results indicated that students are uncertain about the library and librarians using Facebook, but are willing to consider accessing the library through this platform in the right circumstances. By listening to students' concerns and identifying standards for interaction, the researchers made recommendations for restructuring the library's Facebook initiatives. This panel will offer an overview of this study and its implications for library outreach efforts in Facebook. This panel will explore the conflict between the literature's best practices and students' expectations for library behavior in Facebook. A discussion of the library's experiences in implementing and refining its Facebook campaign will facilitate a broader consideration of the opportunities social networking sites present for libraries.

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