12 · Survey Results: Executive Summary
cial networking sites such as Facebook (70%), 35 have
implemented tagging (55%), and 39 libraries make
use of media sharing sites such as Flickr or YouTube
(62%). Survey results indicate that the most broadly
adopted social software, chat or instant messaging,
was also the earliest implemented social software.
While one respondent was using instant messenger
for reference and another was using chat for internal
communication as early as 1998 the earliest use of
this type of social software dates back to 1993.
While chat and instant messaging have been in
use for several years, use of other types of social soft-
ware in libraries is very recent. Beyond isolated cases,
a steadily increasing number of ARL member librar-
ies began implementing social software in 2005, with
the largest rate of adoption being in 2007. For example,
one of the responding libraries was blogging in 2001,
but others adopted it much later 13 institutions began
using blogs in 2005, another 16 began blogs in 2006,
and 17 others started in 2007. RSS was adopted by 19
libraries (30%) in 2006, though one was experiment-
ing with RSS as early as 2004. Five libraries reported
using wikis as early as 2004. Use of wikis has steadily
grown six respondents report using the software
in 2005, 15 in 2006, and the largest number, 22, in
2007. While many libraries (13) were experimenting
with social networking sites in 2006, the majority
(20) began using Facebook and other sites in 2007.
Other social software, such as media sharing sites,
tagging or folksonomies, and virtual worlds, were
largely adopted in 2007. The type of social software
with the highest rate of adoption in this past year was
widgets. In 2007, thirty of the responding libraries
deployed software such as MeeboMe chat widget,
catalog searching plug-ins and the LibGuides widget
on their Web sites.
Social Software Beginnings
When asked about the impetus for implementing
social software, 80% of the survey respondents said
it was a grassroots effort by individual librarians or
other staff. Slightly more than half said it grew out
of a pilot project in a specific department (probably
reference based on the IM, chat, and virtual reference
software that was used first by many respondents.)
Twelve (20%) said it was a recommendation from
library administration and ten (16%) that the IT de-
partment recommended it. Only five (8%) said that
library users requested it.
Overall, libraries hope that the use of social soft-
ware will increase user awareness of library collec-
tions and services (56 or 92%), help deliver services to
library users (53 or 87%), and establish rapport with
users in online environments (48 or 79%). Nearly 60%
hope to support faculty in teaching and learning, and
41% want to gain a better understanding of users’
online behavior. Several respondents also wanted to
enhance staff communication.
Types of Social Software or Networking Used
At the time of the survey, all but a few of the 61 re-
spondents (54 to 60) were using chat or IM, RSS, blogs,
and wikis. The majority (43 to 48) were using wid-
gets, social networking sites such as Facebook and
MySpace, social bookmarking or tagging sites such
as del.icio.us and LibraryThing, and media sharing
sites such as YouTube and Flickr. Fewer libraries are
using Voice over IP services (25 respondents) or have
a presence in the virtual world Second Life (21 re-
spondents). Twenty-three respondents reported the
use of a variety of other applications, including the
LibX toolbar in their Firefox browser, podcasting,
Twitter, Google maps, SharePoint, and LibGuides,
among others.
Examples of Social Software Used
For each of the ten types of social applications, re-
spondents were asked to provide an example of the
site, software, or service used, the year it was first
used, a description of how it was being used, and the
goal for using that particular tool. Following is a brief
summary of each type of application.
Social Networking Sites
Thirty-three of 43 respondents (73%) currently have
a Facebook page and four (9%) have one in develop-
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