In September, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library implemented a social network for its staff, the BECPL Staff Page. The network was developed on Ning, www.ning.com, a website that allows users to create and join social networks. Networks can be public so that any Internet user can view them, or they can be private, through invitation only. BECPL chose to create a private network for its staff to enhance communication throughout its 37-branch library system. The overall vision was to create a more close-knit library community by providing a forum to exchange ideas and best practices, to highlight events and programs, to showcase displays and locations, and to collaborate on projects and shared goals. While staff throughout the system will be able to get to know each other better, a network like this will also help create a more team-like spirit, increase efficiencies, and minimize redundancies.
Some of the features on the BECPL Staff Page include a Blog and Discussion Forum, the ability to create public or private Groups, the ability to add Photos, Videos, or Events, and the ability to Chat publicly within the Network or privately with another individual member. Groups are an especially useful feature. The Staff Page currently has private Groups centered around committees and departments/branch locations and public groups open to all members of the network, such as the Staff Page Book Club (discusses reading interests and readers' advisory), TechTalk (technology), Inside Outlook ( discusses the Library's transition from Eudora to Outlook), the Staff Association, and a Youth Services Group. If you are interested in creating a social network for your library or for your staff using Ning, try the following to get you started:
* Ning, http://www.ning.com
* Ning Help, http://help.ning.com
* Ning Blog, http://blog.ning.com/
* Ning for Dummies, by Manny Hernandez
Or send any questions you might have to Angela Pierpaoli, firstname.lastname@example.org