Friday, July 22, 2011

Please like the BPL... or something

Can someone explain this one to me? I recently got my I-have-no-idea-how-often-it-comes eNewsletter from the Boston Public Library (BPL) and the following paragraph caught my eye:
Thank you to all who helped the Boston Public Library reach 5,000 likes on Facebook last week. Now, it's time to set our sights on 6,000 and beyond. Like the Boston Public Library's Facebook page and enjoy updates on library events, behind-the-scenes photos, and the opportunity to interact with other library fans.

What in the world does the BPL need Facebook likes for? (I can justify the reasons for the BPL having a Facebook page in the first place) I'm not going to get into the general question of the purpose of Facebook likes, but I really want to understand what possible benefit it could have for a public library. People aren't going to become fans of the library and then buy more of its stuff. Likes have, until now, been used as a sort of gauge for the popularity of certain artists, organizations, politicians, etc. The BPL is none of these things. Please explain.

I can understand that maybe the BPL want to increase library attendance and solicit donations, but this feels like the completely wrong approach. Asking people to "like" their Facebook page just makes them seem childish and silly. Also, kind of lame. 5,000 likes... cause for excitement? Even Henrik Ibsen has more Facebook likes than that!


  1. If you "like" their page, you'll get updates from them in your news stream. I imagine this could increase traffic at the library, draw people to events, etc.

  2. Perhaps they feel that their grant applications and fundraisers as well as private donations will go more smoothly if there's the general sense or impression that they're beloved by billions. Their brand matters even if they have nothing to sell. That's my thought. K

  3. I think having a Facebook page and garnering likes for a library is legitimate in terms of promoting attendance, support, and awareness. It says in the email text you posted that liking the page will get people updates on library events and such, so BPL is spreading awareness and updates through likes for people who want them, not only drumming up pointless attention.

  4. Thanks for all your comments! I guess there are a lot more reasons for Facebook likes than the ones I originally thought of... good to know!

  5. I'm so over Facebook. It puts emphasis on all the wrong things. Of course, having 5,000 likes on FB makes it LOOK like there is support, which of course helps with donors, but if the "likes" can't be translated into library traffic, I don't much see the point.


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