Welcome to the social networking mediums of the 21st century, where all your on line friends are connected to other on line friends like at best a fresh daisy chain, or at worst a nasty chain letter.
At the heart of Face book, My space and Bebo is the desire to share and communicate with other like minded people. For many this is a wonderful way of interacting and the potential for libraries in terms of networking with a younger generation of library users is huge.
How ever with technology there also comes responsibility. My first experience of Bebo was at the library. I noticed that a very large number of the people using the computers in the library were on Bebo. They are quite often young, not going to school, and not gainfully employed. Some come into the library with very young children who are ignored and not supervised for long periods of time.
This was my first experience of the impact of social networking on the library environment.
I know Bebo is very popular with the young. I went into Bebo using my son's log on and he navigated me around his Bebo page and onto friends pages. I was concerned about the amount of personnal information that some of the teens had given out. I doubt very much that their parents would be aware of all the connections and some of the content. There seemed to be little awareness of the need for safety when on line.
I wish to thank my son for giving me a glimpse into a world that I would not have had access to.
I looked at both the Auckland City library and Rotorua library Bebo sites. I thought Rotorua's was by far the best. I think libraries can definitely take advantage of these tools to reach a younger audience, for promoting of library services, book reviews, and for discussion on what people would like to see happening in their libraries.
I decided not to join Face book as I don't think I would revisit it, but did have a look at My Space. Thought it was good that my space allow potential users to "take a tour" and to get a peek at the different services that are on offer, ie music, videos, forums and finding people.
I was listening to radio New Zealand the other day and they were promoting My Space as a place to listen to good New Zealand music, so I may very well find myself being drawn by curiousity to take a closer look at this on line space.