Social networking in academic libraries: the possibilities and the concerns

Andrea Dickson (School of Library and Information Science, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Robert P. Holley (School of Library and Information Science, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Publication date: 23 November 2010



The goal of this paper is to examine the use of the major social networking tools in academic libraries in the USA. As college students are heavy users of social networking, such efforts provide academic libraries with outreach possibilities to students who do not use the physical library. The paper also seeks to examine the concerns about their use both from students and within the academic library.


The paper summarizes findings from articles published since 2006 found in the Library Literature and Information Full Text database. The first author also examined librarian blogs and library accounts in various social networking sites.


Social networking can be an effective method of student outreach in academic libraries if libraries take care to respect student privacy and to provide equal coverage for all subject areas.

Research limitations/implications

Most information about social networking is anecdotal with very little statistical analysis of its effectiveness. The popularity of the various social networking sites can change quickly.

Practical implications

Academic libraries should consider using social networking as an outreach effort but take care to avoid the potential negative consequences.


This paper provides a snapshot on the use of social networking in academic libraries through a thorough review of the available literature and an examination of the libraries' presence on the most popular social networking sites. It also provides help for academic libraries wishing to implement social networking.



Dickson, A. and Holley, R. (2010), "Social networking in academic libraries: the possibilities and the concerns", New Library World, Vol. 111 No. 11/12, pp. 468-479.

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