Getting in Their Face[book]s

Facebook Librarian is an extremely useful application to bring Facebook users (for many of us academic librarians, that translates to the overwhelming majority of our user population) and librarians together. Facebook, as we all know, is a social networking site. Its audience is largely college and post-college people, although there are both younger and older members. Heck, I’m one of those older Facebook users having graduated from school several years before the Web was born.
Facebook Librarian is an application that any Facebook member can add to their profile. Once added, it provides links to a range of resources, including WorldCat, Google Scholar, Internet Archive, Amazon, and so on. But that’s not the really interesting thing — this is: there’s an “Ask a Librarian” link in the application that will either link to a librarian at the user’s school (if one has signed up through Facebook Librarian) or elsewhere (another school’s librarian who volunteered to take questions from all comers). Plus, if a library creates a very simple HTML page and provides the URL of that page to Facebook Librarian, that “widget” is displayed within the application.
This works because college-aged Facebook members are generally associated with an educational institution and Facebook makes that association available to application developers. So if anyone at the University of Michigan with a Facebook account goes to the Facebook Librarian application, they will be able to “Ask a Librarian” (me, in this case) or search our library catalog, journals collection, database collection, or web site from within Facebook. Any library can both register to be a contact for a particular school and/or provide a library widget.
This is a very useful and truly wonderful example of putting the library where the users are.
Kudos to Brad Czerniak, who developed this application, a student at the Library and Information Science program at Wayne State University. You can read more about Facebook Librarian on his blog: Hawidu. Or, to try it yourself, go to and click “Add to my profile.”