Myspace is Your Library’s Space!
Michigan Library Consortium
January 11, 2007
Good evening everyone. I’m here to talk to you a little bit about the phenomenon known
as MySpace, how it’s used, and how it can be used in a library environment. Now, I have
to start my little talk by saying that while this is primarily focused on MySpace, most of
what I am going to say is probably going to applicable to any social networking or
blogging site. Also, chances are, if you’re on Second Life right now, you’re probably
already attempting to make the best use of the resources out there on the web for your
library or organization, and I’m basically going to be reinforcing a lot of what you
already know. If this is too basic and you already know enough to do this presentation
yourself, send me an IM, and I can send you a copy so you can educate your co-workers.
I would also like to mention that YALSA has put together a fantastic toolkit and blog,
much of which was created by Beth Gallaway/Cerulean Vesperia and Kelly Czarnecki/
BlueWings Hayek (who is also coordinating the Eye4You Alliance Teen Island project
through the Alliance Library Sytem). And that there are numerous blogs on the web
including Mashable, Totally Wired, and Tame the Web where information can be found.
For a compilation of sources of information for this presentation, please visit
So, I’m going to start with the very basics. What exactly is MySpace? Who is using it?
And why are they using it?
What is MySpace?
MySpace is first and foremost a free social networking website. The term social network
was first coined by J.A. Barnes, and it encompasses the idea of expanding ones familial,
social, and business contacts. Social networking sites are essentially sites that create
virtual communities. In these communities, users set up profiles that contain information
about their hobbies, interests, locations, or anything else they see fit to post. These sites
usually have search mechanisms that allow users to find other users with commonalities.
These sites usually allow a user to see the network of contacts or “friends” for another
user. Many sites have social networking components. AOL has its searchable buddy
profiles. Live Journal, a blogging site, allows its users to search by various criteria, and
has a grouping function. Classmates.com reconnects people from high school, college,
and the military. Friendster, Facebook, Xanga, Flickr, Yahoo 360, and Stickam (a web
cam community recently gathering more press) are all considered social networking sites.
MySpace’s tagline is “A Place for Friends.”
What is MySpace used for?
People use it for networking in their profession. They use it to find dates. They use it to
reconnect with former acquaintances, friends, and colleagues. They use it to find new
bands to listen to, watch television shows they missed, or put up video diary entries.
They use it for role-playing. They use it to find discussion groups for topics that interest
them. Sometimes it is used to send messages that people would never say in person. It is
used to blog one’s special thoughts on the state of the world, one’s crush on a next-door
neighbor, or how one hates the school principal. According to Alexa.com, a web traffic
site, as of last night, January 10th, MySpace.com was the third most visited website in the
United States. According to Reuters, it has at various points in the past year been the
most visited United States website on the Internet, beating out even Google and Yahoo.
It has become so ubiquitous that the other day I was driving down the highway and saw a
gentleman wearing an old shirt and jeans holding a torn cardboard sign up on the side of
the road. Now, did this say “Heading to Cleveland. Need a ride” or maybe “Will work
for food” like I originally anticipated? It said “Go visit www.MySpace.com/marakis” I
wish I had taken a picture.
History of MySpace: MySpace was founded in July 2003 by Tom Anderson (also
known as everyone’s “first” friend, Tom), the current president and CEO, Chris
DeWolfe, and a small team of programmers. MySpace was founded at a time where
Friendster was the biggest social networking site on the web. In a 2006 interview with
Forbes magazine, Tom Anderson stated that “On Friendster, if you were a band and you
made a profile, they would delete it. They didn’t want bands on their site. If you made a
profile for your company or for where you lived or a neighborhood or an idea, you’d get
deleted. We recognized from the beginning that we could create profiles for the bands
and allow people to use the site any way they wanted to. We didn’t stop people from
promoting whatever they wanted to promote on MySpace. Some people have fun with it,
and others try to get more business and sell stuff, like a makeup artist or a band, and we
encourage them to do that.” Many of the first people on the site were artists and
musicians from Los Angeles. MySpace currently has over 660,000 musical artists on
their site. Music is one of the main components of the site that set it apart from its
competitors and possibly caused the mass migration from Friendster and other sites.
Many bands have found increasing success because of the free exposure MySpace
allows. A band from the United Kingdom, The Arctic Monkeys, had a fan start a fansite
for them without their knowledge and as they gained more plays on the site, they gained
more exposure internationally. MySpace continues to put on “Secret Shows” and has
also developed a record label. MySpace also allows more customization than previous
social networking sites. It not only does not ask users to place themselves in already
established categories, but it allows backgrounds, layouts, blogs, and pictures to be fully
customized. MySpace was partially owned by Intermix Media, and was bought in July
2005 for $580 million by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the parent company of
Fox Broadcasting and other media enterprises. MySpace is headquartered in Santa
Monica, California. As of September 2006, the site was said to have 106 million
accounts, with approximately 250,000 accounts being added each day according to Cnet
News. After reports of safety issues and inappropriate behavior, MySpace hired a Chief
Security Officer, Hemanshu Nigam. MySpace now employees more that 250 employees,
approximately 90 of which are devoted to “monitoring the safety and security of its
Who is on MySpace?
Regardless of whether people think the site was well-designed or is well-managed, it has
become the giant of the social networking world. According to Reuters, MySpace
controls just over 80% of the social networking traffic online. Facebook is in second
place with approximately 8%. If you walk into any public library, I can pretty much
guarantee half of the computers will be on the site. In my library, all of the computers in
the youth area are on this site all afternoon. Kids will message each other through the site
even when they’re sitting just across the room from each other. A recent California State
University study found that teenagers spent an average of 15 hours per week on
MySpace. According to Nielsen / Net Ratings in April 2006, there were 38,359,000
unique users that visited MySpace.com. This was a 367% increase from April 2005. In
August 2006, there were 55,578,000 unique users who visited the site. Oddly enough as
the site has expanded, the age demographic has shifted. In August 2005, nearly 55% of
MySpace users were under the age of 35, with 24.7% being between the ages of 12 and
17 (ComScore Media Matrix). In August of 2006, only 11.9% of MySpace users were
between the ages of 12 and 17, with users 35 and older making up 52% of its user force.
Anatomy of a MySpace Page
Setting up an Account – When you sign up for a MySpace account it asks you for a valid
e-mail address, password, first name, last name, birthdate, location, and gender. The
minimum age to set up a MySpace account is 14. They have no way of verifying any of
the information you provide, so an 11 year old can easily set up an account on MySpace
simply by making his or her birthdate a few years earlier. If you are looking to solicit
members from your geographic area, it is a good idea to include your location in your
The first screen that comes up after you have signed up asks you who you are and who
you would like to meet. There are boxes for your interests, your favorite books, movies,
etc. There are also tabs along the top to add more information, including your schools
and networking affiliations (these are, unfortunately, all predetermined by MySpace, and
thus there is no “librarian” category) You can also add html to these boxes to change
the background colors of your site, if you are so inclined. All of this information is
contained under “Edit Profile”
If you head into the Account Settings link, you can change your privacy settings. Right
now, my profile is set to be private. I have selected to not allow bands to invite me to be
their friend. My blog is set so that only friends can view it, and occasionally my
“Preferred Friends” which means that I created a list of around 20 people of the people on
my “Friends” list who can view the entries. You can also select that you wish to see
comments before they are posted, so you can have the opportunity to delete them.
MySpace also allows you to block users who you do not wish to be contacted by. You
can even choose to have other users see your birthday if you wish to get tons of messages
when that day arrives. In the case of libraries, I would recommend keeping your
profile and blog public, if your purpose is to attract attention to library services. I would
set the comments section as moderated.
So, once you’ve logged in, this is what a profile looks like. Near your default picture
(which, by the way, in my case, is an excellent likeness of me), you can add or change
photos, manage your blog, change your account settings, and edit your profile. You can
also create a calendar and address book.
Beneath this area is where users receive messages. Your inbox is where new private
messages or comments will be sent. When you have new messages, MySpace will
inform you of this when you log on. It will hold on to all received messages unless you
delete them. It also keeps a record of sent messages for 14 days. The box labeled “friend
requests” will let you know when you have a notice from another user requesting you to
be added as a friend. It will also tell you which of your friend requests are pending. You
can also post a bulletin from this section, which is a message that will be sent to everyone
on your friends list.
There are links on the center of this page to the numerous components of MySpace.
Most recently MySpace has added a job search and tv on demand from the Fox network.
You can also listen to music, watch videos, join chat rooms, leave messages on forums,
play games, and find out about filmmakers and comedians, to name a few parts. The
book section is less developed than some others. It features a list of the most linked to
books from MySpace blogs to Amazon.com, and it offers reviews of feature books that
the site has selected.
Now what I am going to say is going to sound silly and frivolous, but I feel it necessary
to explain some of the social norms on MySpace.
As you scroll down the page, you can see your listing of friends and the bulletins that
have been sent to you by these friends. Many of these bulletins are simply surveys that
people have filled out that they believe their friends will find amusing. There are just as
many spam messages and annoying forwards on MySpace as there are on any other
service. There are also many interesting social mechanisms afoot on MySpace. I feel I
should also mention that friend is a verb on MySpace. One says “Oh, I’ll friend you on
MySpace,” “I defriended her because of her comments on my blog.” There is a ranking
system to friends on MySpace. Previously users were only allowed a Top 8 friends. As
the site has evolved, you can now choose up to a Top 24. The thing is, people really
notice if they have dropped out of your top friends. I have received messages before
where friends have wondered if I was upset with them for moving them out of my Top 8.
Hence, why I now keep mine as a Top 16. I prefer not to offend. I highly recommend
that a library rotate its top friends from time to time. Oddly enough, 13 out of my 16 top
friends are librarians or library workers. At some point I may need to branch out. Some
people compete as to the number of friends they can acquire. Some only friend people
that they know in person, others only friend those people they consider “real” friends, and
so have small networks of 5-10 people. When you first join MySpace, you automatically
have Tom, one of the co-creators of the site, listed as your friend. This is also something
of a public relations ploy by the site to give it a personalized feel. I am guessing at this
point Tom himself does not respond to every message he receives. There have been
numerous jokes made about him including T-shirts that state things like “I have more
friends than Tom” or “Tom is my only friend.” There are also numerous popular culture
references to him and parodies of him, including an Internet sensation called “MySpace:
The Movie”, which began circulation about a year ago. You can defriend Tom. It is
usually considered something of an oddity to have him listed in your Top 8.
Comments also serve as social currency on MySpace. The more comments you have, the
better you look. It is also considered polite that if someone comment you, you comment
them back. If someone states that the library does an excellent job with its programming,
the library should write a comment back thanking them. It is also acceptable to send a
private message in response.
This is simply a view of my profile as it looks to friends who view it. You can see that I
have blog entries near the top, a description of myself, and a song playing beneath my
There are numerous add-ons to MySpace. One can change layouts, backgrounds, make
photo collages and slideshows, or have a continuous jukebox of music playing, to name a
Benefits of MySpace
As I mentioned, YALSA has created a wonderful social networking toolkit that contains
some of the great reasons MySpace should be used.
Social networks allow people to share ideas and collaborate. Even if you or your library
posts no information to your site, it is extremely useful to be able to see what other
libraries and librarians are doing. Have you thought about having your Teen Advisory
Board start a pen pal project with another TAB from across the country? This could be a
good space to find a partner.
Social networks can create a sense of community. It can create a sense of belonging. If
you are someone who has a hobby that might be slightly outside the norm, let’s say
Contra Dancing, I can pretty much guarantee that you can go on MySpace and find
hundreds of other people from across the country with similar interests to your own. You
can join groups to talk with these people. A library can create groups for book
discussion, censorship issues, current events, or just for people who love libraries.
Having a profile allows people already in your geographic community to learn more
about your space.
Websites can help develop Reading and Writing Skills. While everyone knows netspeak
or chatspeak is not exactly akin to writing a dissertation, anyone who is taking time to
write a blog about something he or she cares about or is sending messages to other people
is developing these skills. Many classrooms and schools have started blogs that relate to
projects they are working on. There have also been discussion groups formed for group
projects. Libraries can encourage community participation in their blogs in writing book
and media reviews, sharing stories of library use, or suggesting ideas that libraries may
look to incorporate into their services in the future. It is also an opportunity for users to
learn html skills.
They create a forum for self-expression. Some people are not necessarily comfortable
expressing themselves in person. Social networks allow people to express sentiments
they may not feel comfortable expressing when speaking. Some users may create
projects that provide a sense of empowerment, whether that be soliciting donations of
books for a local library, raising awareness of a political or social issue, or receiving
feedback on an artistic endeavor.
Sites like MySpace can encourage positive social interaction between young people and
adults. While there are many concerns with interaction in this way, it may be possible for
an adult to encourage a young person in his or her endeavors in an electronic format.
MySpace creates an opportunity to network with authors, publishers, and other libraries.
It also allows users to interact with their favorite bands and sometimes actors. It also
allows users to very quickly find the latest buzz on their favorite celebrities and other
I have heard many stories of adult users who have found friends in their area after
moving,or have found relationships through common interests. Of course, I’ve also heard
some horror stories of things that didn’t quite work out.
MySpace also provides a wonderful opportunity for libraries to provide educational
classes. I will discuss this a bit more when I get to programming.
It’s a great opportunity to introduce users to library resources. Some people in your area
on MySpace may have never set foot in their local library, or may not know about all the
services you offer.
Did I also mention it was free?
Controversies and Issues with MySpace
Let’s begin with the most relevant of issues to a library’s MySpace site: the
advertisements that run along the top and bottom of the screen. Some of these ads
contain pictures and words that users of the site may deem offensive. MySpace is
supported almost entirely by advertisements. It is impossible to determine which ad may
appear on the library’s webpage during a view.
Next, in terms of the parent company, Fox Media, there have been accusations of
censorship of ads, blogs, and personal profiles. Certain sites have been blocked including
those sites that claim they have created “trackers” for users to see who is viewing their
profile. At one point, Fox removed the profile of a band called “Bones” from their
address at www.myspace.com/bones and placed a page about the Fox network’s crime
drama Bones. Due to mass mailings from fans of the group, this was later corrected.
It is also entirely possible that a user of myspace whose profile may not contain content
appropriate for all ages may “friend” or link to the library’s profile. In general, it is not
difficult to run across pictures that depict illegal activities or that are intended for an adult
There are tons of issues related to myspace. There have been many news reports of
people being stalked or attacked through use of the site. There are also numerous stories
of sexual predators searching for victims through social networking sites. Last June a 16-
year-old Michigan girl flew to Jordan to rendezvous with 25 year old man she met online.
Myspace was also sued last year by a 14-year-old girl who says a 19-year-old man she
met through site site sexually assaulted her. In the California State University Study,
researchers found that 7% of those teens interviewed were ever approached by anyone
with a sexual intent and nearly all of them simply ignored the person and blocked him
from their page. “Two-thirds of the parents were sure that there were many sexual
predators on MySpace, while only one-third of the teenagers shared this concern.” This
is, of course, something to be concerned about, but technically, this could happen
anywhere on the web. Chat rooms, forums, discussion groups, games, listservs. It is
virtually impossible to tell if someone is who they say they are. The study also found that
“nearly ¾ of teens give out their school name, half give out their e-mail address, and half
give out information about activities they will be doing, including the location.”
It is very simple to create false information using someone’s real information. The
Bergen Record reported that “In February, someone created a phony profile of 12-year-
old Monirae Hickey of Nutley on MySpace.com, posting her name, cellphone number
and a photo of a provocatively dressed woman; the page said she was a stripper. As a
result, the girl was barraged with phone calls.” This has very dangerous implications,
and as it was a classmate that did this, is an excellent example of cyber-bullying. While
MySpace provides a forum for those too shy to say things too express themselves, it also
provides a forum for those willing to hurt others surreptitiously. The site also allows
users to submit photos for ranking. It is quite easy for users to attack other users they
know in regards to their physical appearance through this tool.
In addition to safety concerns, there have also been many instances of passwords being
hacked user profiles being taken over.
Websites have also popped up exploiting, or perhaps embracing the myspace phenomena,
such as Deathspace, which keeps track of myspace users that have passed away, or Fake
Your Space, which allows users to pay to have attractive friends added to their profile.
Developing Polices regarding MySpace both in house and on the net
Will MySpace be allowed on all library computers? In recent months several libraries
have banned MySpace on their computers outright. There is some concern over safety,
“hogging” bandwidth, the display of adult content, and numerous other issues. Most of
these concerns could actually be concerns about any website. Much of what your library
chooses to do with MySpace is going to be dependent on your mission. If your computer
policy states that the computers are to be used only for research purposes, than it is most
likely within reason to ask users not to use MySpace. But, if your library allows patrons
to use computers for their personal recreation, it may be difficult to justify banning
MySpace. If the library decides it is not within its scope to allow social networking on
its computers, that is up to the individual library, but it also means that other sites with
the same purpose should be included in the ban. Banning a site simply because it is
popular seems a bit uneven. I would, personally, advocate taking the approach the
Librarian in Black suggests in her blog “Libraries have policies in place to deal with the
behavior issues people raise in relation to MySpace: spending more than the allowed time
on the computers, displaying obscene or harmful materials, being disruptive, etc. Enforce
those policies, regardless of what activities your users are engaging in.” I also think it
may be more productive to restrict privileges of certain individuals that consistently
violate library policies, rather than restricting the privileges of everyone in the
community, some of whom may have perfectly legitimate uses for certain websites. The
main concern for many librarians is that outright banning could be a slippery slope. Is it
up to us to determine the importance of patron Internet needs? Also, I hate to mention
this, but there are workarounds to filters. If your library depends on library filters to
block a site without a staff member moderating the area, users may still be able to access
Acceptable Use Policies
If it is decided that the library will develop a MySpace account of its own, there are a few
things to take into consideration, as there are for libraries using free blog sites and other
outside services. Essentially, it would probably be good to have a purpose in using
another site in addition to your library website. For example: The library has developed a
MySpace page in order to have an interactive forum for our community. Please consider
visiting the site and leaving us your comments. You also need to consider the privacy
settings for your site. Are there limits to who the library will add as friend? Who will
decide what comments are appropriate for display, or will the page be an open forum?
The library may wish to post a notice that that the library is not responsible for the
content of other users profiles, even those linked from its site, nor is it responsible for the
ads on its page. It may also be nice to give notice of mediation of comments or entries.
An example of a policy concerning outside services from the Thomas Ford Memorial
Library reads, “The Internet represents a world of resources and organizations beyond the
walls of the Library. This website provides links to other sites that the Staff feel are
valuable in some way. However, the Library cannot take responsibility for the accuracy
or reliability of these Internet resources, their privacy policies, or their use of personal
information. As an Internet user, be aware that some material found on the Internet may
be considered offensive. The Library does not monitor patron use.”
Libraries and Others that Use MySpace
The Denver Public Library has a very cool MySpace site. Along the left side of the page
they have links to book and movie reviews done by their patrons. They also have a blog
of upcoming events and feature contests on their site.
The Rockford Public Library shows their address and hours along the side of the page.
What’s great on their page is that their first friends are all other libraries on MySpace!
Very easy to navigate around and see what others are doing. They also have a very cool
The Hennepin County Library has a link that directly searches their catalog from their
page. Also, along the side under books and music, they link to their new CDs and DVDs.
They also feature a blog that talks about upcoming events.
The Brooklyn College Library has a blog that links to various articles about the library
and events that are coming up. Their top friends are all local institutions such as The
Brooklyn Museum and The Brooklyn Historical Center. They also link to their catalog
and their new Media Center.
The Allen County Public Library has made a great use of the MySpace calendar function
on their site.
There are other library-related organizations that have a presence on MySpace including
The Young Adult Library Services Association, which does a great job of keeping their
page updated. They have links to their book and media selection lists and their blog.
The American Library Association also has a presence on MySpace.
Another good example of people librarians can look for on MySpace includes authors.
Now, young adult authors are probably the most prevalent, but there are others. I only
have a few authors who I have “friended” including John Green and David Levithan but
each time I have sent them a message, I have received one in return. This can be a way to
get questions about books answered, inquire about speaking availability, or simply
compliment them on their work. Meg Cabot is an example of a primarily young adult
writer who has a site. Harlan Coben, an adult suspense novel writer also has a site.
There are also several publishers that have MySpace sites and run contests to receive free
advance reading copies and other prizes such as Harper Teen.
Harry and the Potters are a band that tours the country going to various libraries. Their
headline reads “We sing songs about books.” Songs include “Saving Ginny Weasley”
and “This Book is so Awesome.”
This is a very small sample of the libraries and authors that currently have MySpace sites,
but I hope they might give you some ideas for what you may be able to do at your library.
Okay, moving on to MySpace as a Resource.
Now, here’s an interesting use of MySpace… You can find people. Now, I know that’s
what social networking is for, but this can be useful in ways that go beyond standard
professional networking or finding people who have similar interests to you. MySpace is
a directory just like other directories. One can find e-mail addresses, phone numbers,
screen names, addresses, and a tremendous amount of other information. Granted, the
people on MySpace choose what information they make available, and many people are
smart enough to maintain some semblance of privacy, but one can also always send a
message directly through the site. There have been many times that I have had someone
approach the reference desk in an attempt to track down a former classmate, colleague, or
company. MySpace is simply one more resource that can be used in this search.
This is also something of an odd use, and perhaps not everyone will agree with it, but our
library recently had an incident with a person that resulted in this person being banned
from the library facility for the rest of the school year. Not everyone on staff knew who
this person was, and so it would be difficult for some to enforce this ban. (The ban was
not lightly undertaken, and it did involve police action.) But…he is on MySpace and has
pictures on his account. So it’s not just that the people search is useful as a reference
source, but, also as something of an identifier.
I had an interesting question the other day from an acquaintance. She was trying to track
down a somewhat distant family member who had not been in contact with anyone in the
family for three years. This young man was not listed in any directory and did not show
up in any standard database. On something of a whim, I decided to search MySpace. Lo
and behold, 24 hours later I had received a message from him that included his current
address, cell phone number, and e-mail address. This will not work for everyone,
obviously, but it is one more resource to use when conducting this type of search for a
If you look at the search interface on MySpace, it is reasonably self-explanatory, though
the browsing function is not quite as simple. In December, Google took over the search
on the site, and it has exclusive rights to “provide MySpace with search results and
keyword-targeted advertising.” MySpace has a main keyword search under its search
heading. You can also search by name, display name, e-mail address, school, and
networking affiliations. Once a search has been completed, it allows the user to limit by
zip code. The browse function has numerous categories including age, gender, sexual
orientation, college major, education, ethnicity, etc.
Some organizations and businesses are opting to make a MySpace account rather than
building a normal website. A few weeks ago I was thinking of going to a show at a club I
had never heard of about an hour from my house. I was trying to find an address, and
perhaps some more information about the business itself. The only site I found that gave
me the information I needed was MySpace. It is a free alternative for businesses that
may not have a website administrator or the time to develop a site. This is also true for
libraries and other educational organizations. It is very simple to set up a site, and takes
very little attention to maintain it.
Another way that I have used MySpace as a resource is as a collection development tool,
specifically in relation to music. MySpace music allows artists to put examples of their
songs on their site. Users can add songs to their profile from these musicians’ sites.
Users who are not the performers of a song violate the MySpace terms of agreement if
they post something to the site. There is, however, little regulation in this area. But,
MySpace Music does keep track of the number of plays musical artists get on their
profiles and ranks them. One can go to the Top Artists area of the site and see the Top
100 major label, independent label, and unsigned artists. Users can sort by country, state,
and genre in order to find out what MySpace users are listening to. While it may seem no
different than looking at the bestsellers on Amazon or the Billboard charts, the more
specific searches are tremendously useful. If libraries are interested in developing local
music collections or specific genres of their collection, this search can be very effective.
Promoting Your Library via MySpace
MySpace has built in promotional tools. First, obviously, having a MySpace site gives
your organization additional web presence. People may accidentally run across your site,
or deliberately find your site. Also, you can search for people in your geographical area
to see if they’d like to be your “friend.” I fully believe most people would accept a friend
request from their local library, primarily because most people simply want to up their
numbers of friends. My 15-year-old nephew has 382 MySpace friends. Do you think he
knows all of those people? He would accept a friend request simply to move to 383. Is it
a great reason? No. But, basically, this can be used for direct marketing to your patrons,
even some who may never think of visiting the library in real life. There are two main
ways to promote events on MySpace. One is through sending a bulletin, which is
essentially an e-mail message sent to all of your “friends.” The other is to post an Event.
Events can be seen by anyone using MySpace. This is an example of a search for events
within 10 miles of East Lansing, Michigan. If someone were to go in and type a keyword
that matched your event, or choose to search in a certain vicinity, your event would
appear to them.
As was previously mentioned, under the Books and Movies areas on each space, it is easy
enough to put a link to the library catalog, especially if there is a way to link it to a list of
new items. Having a blog on the site can also promote collections, services, or,
programming. Users are also able to subscribe to blogs so they will automatically receive
notification when a new posting is made.
The pictures area of MySpace now allows up to 300 images per account. In addition
Photobucket, Flickr, and other sites usually have MySpace ad-ons, which can allow any
number of pictures. The process for uploading pictures to the site is very simple, much
like attaching a file to an e-mail. I’m not sure if other libraries have this problem, but
each time my children’s librarian wants to post something to our website, she has to
either take something else down, or call the firm that designed our website and have them
alter the code in order for her to have another picture spot. This could be a quick way to
archive events and promote past events to the public.
The videos area of MySpace allows users to post their own videos. Have a library PSA?
Video from a program? Student films from a film contest the library had? Want to make
an advertisement for Summer Reading Program? These could all be posted to MySpace
videos and directly linked to the library’s website.
Soliciting feedback can also be a great use for this site. Have you seen the number of
surveys and quizzes that get passed around? I’ve answered like 80 of them myself, just
out of boredom. If you’re interested in finding out what the people of your community
want, post a survey in a bulletin or blog entry.
MySpace offers several programming options for libraries.
One of the main programs libraries can offer for their communities is an Internet Safety
Education program for parents, and their teens. I have done this successfully in the past
and have several scheduled in the future. Many parents see news stories about MySpace
but have not visited the site themselves. A 2006 study conducted by California State
University found that “Only one-third of the parents have seen their child’s MySpace
page and only 16% check it on a regular basis.” This is a great opportunity for
discussion. I tend to be very neutral in my presentation of information, showing parents
example pages on LiveJournal.com, Flickr.com, YouTube.com, MySpace.com, and
Facebook.com. I try to show a productive use (example: homeschooled students creating
a science experiment video on YouTube), a pretty average use (a daily diary on
LiveJournal), and what I like to call a “more interesting” use (which may include photos
of some sort of illegal or unhealthy activity on Facebook). I also tend to emphasize
young people need outlets for self-expression, but that it is up to them as parents to
determine the limits of those outlets for their individual child.
Another option, which would most likely be aimed towards teens that use the site is a
“MySpace Makeover,” or as we promoted it “Pimp My MySpace”. First, a library could
actually teach an html class so students could learn how to develop their own layouts, but
there area also numerous sites out there that provide ready made backgrounds, layouts,
and graphics. Of course, because there are issues with some of the codes from these
sites, I would probably make sure that someone with a background in web design ran this
program. There are also numerous outside sites that can create objects like photo
collages, slideshows, and surveys.
You could conduct a video competition. Who can make the best PSA for the library and
place it on MySpace videos? The best Summer Reading Club advertisement? Some
MySpace sites have integrated podcasting into their site. Libraries could have regular
podcasting “shows” featuring people in the community.
The groups section of the site would allow creation of a forum for online book discussion
There could be a competition for who can create the best “character” profile from a
Maintaining the MySpace site could be a volunteer job. Or have various contributors that
post weekly blog entries, place book reviews on the site, or highlight some new music or
Does anyone have any suggestions for programming that they’ve done at their library or
that they’ve heard of?
Well, I’d just like to close this discussion by saying that MySpace is a tremendously
diverse site that offers many unique opportunities for interaction and expression. I hope
that your library or even you personally will consider the possible benefits of using the
site and I would like to thank you all for sitting and listening to me ramble. And thank
you to the Michigan Library Consortium for inviting me to speak. It was an honor.