SPEC Kit 304: Social Software in Libraries (July 2008)

This SPEC Kit explores how many libraries are using social software and for what purposes, how those activities are organized and managed, and the benefits and challenges of using social software, among other questions.

For this study social software was broadly defined as software that enables people to connect with one another online. The survey asked about ten types of applications: 1) social networking sites; 2) media sharing sites; 3) social bookmarking or tagging sites; 4) Wikis; 5) blogs; 6) sites that use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to syndicate and broadcast content; 7) chat or instant messaging (IM) services; 8) VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services; 9) virtual worlds; and 10) widgets.

This survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in February 2008. Sixty-four libraries completed the survey by the March 14 deadline for a response rate of 52%. All but three of the responding libraries report that their library staff uses social software (95%) and one of those three plans to begin using social software in the future.

This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents of examples of Web sites that show how each of the ten types of social software is used.

Table of Contents

SPEC Kit 304: Social Software in Libraries (July 2008)