What do libraries do on Facebook?

Photo: Annica Andersson Photo: Jari Mäkinen
  • Library:
    Mariehamn city library
  • Respondent:
    Lise-Lott Ehrnstén
  • Mariehamn has
    11 200 inhabitants and is
  • located on the Åland Islands
    west of Finland.
  • Library:
    Nurmijärvi Library
  • Respondent:
    Heli Koivukangas
  • Nurmijärvi has
    41 000 inhabitants and is
    located in the southern
    parts of Finland.
Since when has the library had a Facebook profile?

Lise-Lott: “Since 3 February 2009.”

Heli: “24 November 2009.”

How many people like/follow the page?

Lise-Lott: “1,020.”

Heli: “695.”

What do you know about them?

Lise-Lott: “Women: 71%; men: 27%. 423 from Åland, 770 from Finland, 186 from Sweden; others from Europe, the US and Indonesia, most are aged between 35 and 54.”

Heli: “73 % of the likes have been from women and 25 % from men; we don’t know about the rest. The most likes have come from people aged 35-44 and the least from those aged 55 and over as well as those aged 18–24. There are 600 followers who speak the Finnish language. Most of the followers are library patrons, but there are also other people and parties (communities). Our library is also on Instagram and there we clearly have more followers who are younger.”

How often do you update the page?

Lise-Lott: “Sometimes daily; otherwise weekly.”

Heli: “We update our profile at least twice a week, but sometimes daily.”

What type of issues do you usually write about on your Facebook profile?

Lise-Lott: “We give advance notice of all activities and anything else that is happening at the library, short anecdotes (e.g. about our oystercatchers that live on the roof), current exhibitions, book tips and other literature-related posts, e.g. about prizes for literature.”

Heli: “About the everyday life in the library, collections, exhibitions, events, and from time to time basic announcements and links of interest.”

What distinction do you make between what you write on Facebook and the library’s other information and marketing?

Lise-Lott: “We provide more spontaneous information about events and write direct posts when we know what will take place in the library, e.g. about lectures, changes in opening hours or programme items. We reach our followers more directly.”

Heli: “Writing in Facebook is more informal and patrons can comment on updates in the social media in a different way than with other types of communication.”

What response do you get to updates?

Lise-Lott: “Very rarely comments; mostly people “like” our posts.”

Heli: “Most of the time people react to updates by liking them. We usually get some answers to questions. There is some interaction.”

Has Facebook changed library work or customer service? 

Lise-Lott: “It is a different way of reaching the people who visit the library, and others. Some get in touch via Facebook, a definite improvement in customer service in terms of information about activities at the library.”

Heli: “I think library work has become more interactive. At least I find myself thinking that library work can and certainly should to a greater extent acknowledge patrons in other ways (other than distributing information and material from top to bottom). Patrons should also be asked things to obtain information about what they want and to be able to develop services where possible. Today’s library work seems diverse. It’s nice that the Facebook visitors have made the library part of their everyday life in the social media as well.”

Senior Adviser Regional State Administrative Agencies in Finland