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  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, August 2018


See also Blogs | Digital liaison | Ethics and the health librarian | Slideshare | Social networking | Twitter | Web 2.0

Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world with more than one point five (1.75) billion users. Some eye-popping statistics include: a) Facebook users initiate more than three (3) billion thumbs-up every day, and b) 300 million photos are uploaded into Facebook every day. Facebook is said to have 850+ million people as active Facebook users defined as "...those who signed on to their accounts daily". With 750 million people using Facebook in some mobile form or another around the world, just as many users access Facebook on the go in their daily lives as those who use the platform from a non-portable device. When Facebook filed its initial public offering (IPO) in 2012, its user base was about 845 million. By 2015, that number has doubled. Some estimates put the total number of users that have tried Facebook at over two (2) billion. Facebook is still the most popular social media platform; Twitter, which surpassed 750 million users in 2014, is second only to Facebook although only one-half of its users are active every day.

Facebook use by librarians, in libraries

In 2015, Facebook use in libraries (and by librarians) is perhaps as contested as ever. Since it was first introduced and made available to the public, many libraries and librarians tried Facebook and created profiles; others connected with their users via the platform as well as as with their personal networks suggesting that Facebook is a platform that encourages context collapse. Numerous institutions, government agencies and businesses have seized the opportunity to use Facebook.

In 2013, Charnigo et al did a survey of 126 academic librarians concerning their use of Facebook. They found that academic librarians were aware of the Facebook phenomenon and, those most enthusiastic about Facebook, used it to promote library services and events to their user communities. In a 2014 systematic review of Facebook research, Vassilakaki et al looked at how librarians and libraries have used Facebook from setting up accounts to creating posts and interacting with users. Their paper surveys the literature and how libraries and librarians use Facebook from its initial appearance in 2006 until 2012.

Vassilakaki et al found literature in library science journals and databases, such as ACM Digital Library, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA), Library & Information Science Abstracts (LISA), Google Scholar, e-prints in Library & Information Science (e-LIS), and Digital Library of Information Science & Technology (DLIST). The disseminated nature of their searches suggest that much of the LIS literature on Facebook is in the grey literature. Many of the articles in the literature discuss Facebook, its possible use and benefits, and what guidelines libraries are creating for effective use. Some of the papers found by Vassilakaki outline librarians' perspectives as well as students'/users' perspectives in interacting with Facebook. Apart from its value and the need for library guidelines in using Facebook, Vassilakaki's paper is ambivalent about the value of Facebook and focuses on the vast literature (and conflicting opinions) on the topic.

Facebook use in medicine

In a 2010 study, it was found that nearly every US-accredited medical school has a Facebook profile (Kind et al, 2010) but only 13 (of 128 US medical schools) reported writing social media policies to support its usage. It's been suggested that some of the social media policies and guidelines that have already been written in these medical schools could serve as a useful blueprint for other medical schools considering on writing their own. Further, the article said that guidelines and policies should be framed around students’ professional duties and accountabilities in Facebook, using examples to provide context, and written by stakeholders such as physicians, students and patients. Finally, consideration should be duly given to the communication and enforcement of policies.

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