The Community

Libraries are constantly trying to stay in tune with the kinds of things that interest library patrons. College libraries have to work especially hard at keeping up to date with the current generation, since that is the very narrow demographic that they offer services to. So what do college students like? Everything points to the popularity of social networking. Facebook and Twitter are visited on a daily basis by many people, and there are many ways of communicating with those sites. Some very specific sharing sites are becoming hugely popular – Pinterest being the foremost example. So people love sharing and recommending things online. But of all the things that are shared and recommended apart from the internet, are not books the first thing to come to mind? Well, maybe recipes top that, but books must be neck-and-neck with recipes, for sure. The logical progression is to have a social network that centers around a love of books.

Goodreads has more than 12 million members, and it exists for the sole purpose of helping people find books that they love and allowing them to recommend those books to others. It facilitates online book clubs and organizes books into genres, with each book being reviewed by discerning readers. Many of my own friends on Facebook use the Goodreads app (yet another thing that college students love), and it is refreshing to see so many people who are still interested in taking the time to read great books, even when the lure of the computer and tv screen are so alluring.

Goodreads seems to have a pretty similar mission as that of libraries, except only on a virtual level, so actually libraries are now bridging that gap by partnering with Goodreads. OCLC says that Goodreads has always referred readers to WorldCat.org, but now they have an official partnership that allows individual libraries to set up their own group pages on the Goodreads site that local patrons can join. This is also a place where libraries can promote upcoming events, and it localizes the Goodreads service so that people can get to know other people with a love of reading within their own communities, instead of being spread out across the country, and potentially other countries, as well. Overall, this is a really great opportunity for libraries to reach out to young people especially, who are extremely familiar and comfortable with social networking.

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