Rather than monitor a brick and mortar organization, I decided to track Save Libraries, which is, according to its website, a “grassroots effort to compile information and advocacy resources for libraries that are facing devastating budget cuts.”
The save libraries movement first came to my notice when I began seeing tweets with the hashtag, #savelibraries, appearing in my Twitter feed in the wake of the library closures in England.
The tone and mood of the tweets using #savelibraries is often very positive and upbeat. I have not seen any trolls using the hash tag to be critical or demeaning. Most of the tweets, though, seem to be retweets of news articles or videos that voice support for the libraries. Though Twitter obviously helps facilitate this conversation, it is not used as a means of organizing any planned protests or actions. Though #savelibraries is still a popular conversation, I was surprised to learn that Save Libraries is actually not officially connected to the hash tag, though the end goal is still the same.
Save Libraries is also traditional website with a collection of various resources that can help struggling libraries. The tabs make the navigation relatively easy, though all of the columns, especially due to their narrow widths and amount of information, can make the home page a bit overwhelming. Having an index really helps organize the information more neatly since all of the information is categorized under broad topics and then alphabetized. A really neat aspect of the site is that it has a separate “Twitter Archives” where tweets using the various hashtags followed by the Archives are stored. Surprisingly, Save Libraries follow hashtags of local, imperiled libraries, as well as the general #savelibraries tag.
Like any good 21st century grassroots movement, Save Libraries also has a Facebook page. This screenshot is from March 15, 2010. The immediate thought that comes to mind is that this is not updated every day. Even though March 11, the date of the most recent post, was only a four days ago, that is an eternity (almost) in internet time.
UPDATE: a new video has been posted to the site.
Scrolling down the page also reveals some other problems. There are a couple of posts, like Lisa Cohn and Nancy Denofio’s (the latter is cut off), that are not directly related to the Save Libraries movement and are mostly personal. Even though Cohn is trying to help her library win books, her post does not provide any useful resource or information that can be used to help other libraries.
One other issue is the spam. It is unclear who is responsible for updating and maintaining the Facebook page and though there aren’t many spam posts, the problem is that the nobody has taken the step of deleting the ones that are there.
This was originally posted last December and, as of March 15, is still on the Wall. Though most readers seem to have ignored the post, as you can see from the comment, at least one person has noticed and reacted negatively (obviously, considering the content of the spam) to it. As far as spam posts go, this one looks as if it was sent by an actual Facebook user and any visitor curious about the organization could have seen that post and possibly even formed some erroneous conclusions about the group.
One of the challenges of monitoring this “brand” is that it is not really regulated by any one individual or group. Though there is a Facebook page and website that somebody is clearly maintaining, Save Libraries, the rallying cry, is open to anyone. For example, typing “Save Libraries” into You Tube will find a long list of videos relating to, well, saving libraries. Some of these videos have been posted by the institutions themselves while others are newsclips or even home videos of rallies.
There is a savelibraries channel, too, but there’s no indication that the ones behind the website are also those who are maintaining the YouTube channel. As of March 15, there are only four videos found on the channel with no subscriptions or subscribers.
Libraries need all the help they can get and the effort is really appreciated. But only by those who are aware of it. As a resource, the website does a great job collecting information, though the same cannot be said for its information dissemination skills. The Facebook page has only 3,934 “likes”, while “Freaks and Geeks”, a television series canceled after only one season has 160, 378 “likes”. In addition to some of the maintenance and issues that are simple to repair, Save Libraries-the resource, the conversation, the YouTube channel-needs to somehow do a better job of marketing itself. Just by having a webpage or a hash tag isn’t enough. Ideally, all of these various social media tools can come under the leadership of one unified group or individual so that they can be coordinated. As it stands now, with all these independents all trying to “save libraries”, nothing is really organized, which is a shame, considering that all of these tools used together can really make a palpable impact.
Just for fun, here’s Alan Moore on libraries: