West Allis - Did you know that the Library of Congress, the granddaddy of all libraries, has more than 28 million books and shelves that if stretched out would reach almost to Pittsburgh, 550 miles away?
You would if you found your way to the new Facebook page of the West Allis Public Library or were following West Allis Library on its new Twitter account when the library tweeted that trivia tidbit.
The library has had a Facebook presence (search for "West Allis Public Library") and has been tweeting (with the user name @WAllis Library) for about a month now.
Fun and facts
Most of the information is about about library activities. But to spice things up a little, reference librarian Natalie LaRocque, who set the library up for social media posts, likes to sprinkle in library-related little fun facts - such as one this week about actor Bryan Cranston, who is celebrating his birthday on Thursday. The fun fact invites viewers to come to the library and check out a "Breaking Bad" DVD in which the three-time Emmy winner appears.
LaRocque said she also likes to do authors' birthdays best and post literary quotations.
Other fun things to be found on the library's flowering Facebook page are book reviews and recommendations by librarians who know a thing or two about good books. New reviews appear about every Tuesday and Friday, LaRocque said.
There also are staff and teen blogs to look at, a program calendar and updates on the latest library news locally and even at the state level.
Adding to accessibility
A lot of the Facebook info and tweets are also on the library's website, said Library Director Michael Koszalka.
The beauty of Facebook is that new library posts of programs or news pop up automatically when "friends" log onto their own Facebook pages. The story is the same with the library's Twitter messages that also pop into library patrons' lives when they get on Twitter, if they follow the library. Its Twitter messages are usually little peeps alerting to upcoming programs.
"We use Facebook and Twitter to get the word out on what's available at the library," Koszalka said.
So far, the library has more than 30 Facebook friends, he said, adding that the library is only now trying to tell patrons about its new web venture.
Increasingly, libraries are getting on Facebook, Koszalka said. Some have been part of the Facebook world for two years, .
"We're finally catching up," he said.
It's a wonderful way to interact with library patrons, LaRocque said.
They can post comments, photos and even videos on the library's Facebook page, she said. (As a safeguard, the library can delete inappropriate posts, she noted.)
The wide-open flexibility and potential for interactions that Facebook offers leads to all kinds of possibilities.
"We could have an 'I love the library' picture contest," for example, LaRocque said.
The children's library is so enthusiastic about the possibilities that it's working on setting up its own Facebook page, she said.
"It's a good thing and shows we're here and we do not just have books," LaRocque said. "We want to listen to the community and that could make us change for the better."
Below are some of the Twitter posts (with links in parenthesis) from the West Allis Library under the username @WAllis Library.
Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (dlvr.it/31hqDw)
Last Chance for Winter Programs (dlvr.it/31PKL7)
MPL Teen Summer Reading 2013 Model Contest! (dlvr.it/317gd4)
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Cheap I-94 route expensive for West Allis, officials say
- Groundbreaking set for Greenfield Farmers Market
- New Greenfield Farmers Market seeks helping hands
- News & Notes: May 14
- West Allis boy's heroism doesn't erase his sadness
- Police Report: May 13
- West Allis school uses gardens to teach students multiple subjects
- West Allis Public Works shares cost, construction concerns with DOT
- News & Notes: May 7
- Police Report: May 7