Bringing them back to books, via social media

Published - July 14, 2013 02:00 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Social media are often blamed for youngsters’ aversion to books. However, more and more academic libraries in the district are using the very same tools to make books appealing to students.

When Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV), Pattom, launched a blog for its library in 2005, a student posted a book review on it. After reading the post, her friends decided to read the book. Comments, ‘likes,’ and ‘dislikes’ started to pour in. Very soon, even those who refused to spend time in the library were borrowing books so as not to be left out of discussions on the online forum.

“The e-magazine and an online platform called ‘face-a-book’ for publishing students’ articles and handling their academic work were a hit. There were active online discussions on books. Students posted book reviews and organised chat sessions with the librarians,” said S.L. Faisal, librarian, KV, Pattom. Today, Kendriya Vidyalayas extensively make use of social networking platforms to support academic activities.

The story is no different at the Centre for Excellence in Bioinformatics, University of Kerala.

The students there are as much hooked to bookface, the centre’s library management application, as they are to Facebook. The former uses the features of the popular social networking site. The students tag, comment and ‘like’ the books of their friends, and keep track of the latest releases.

Achuthsankar S. Nair, Director of the centre, said it was imperative for the library to adapt to the changes. To attract the youth, libraries would have to use new media tools, he said.

But many libraries and information professionals were yet to wake up to the power of social networks, said V.R. Arun, a project fellow at Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE). In his research paper, ‘A study on the use of library resources and services through social media sites in the University of Kerala,’ he pointed out the lack of initiatives among academic institutions to approach the social media as tools for information sharing. “Hardly anyone visits the Kerala University Library’s official website. The library has a Facebook page, but it needs to be constantly updated for people to take notice,” he added.

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