Fear of flaming

I get lots of questions from other libraries about Our Library Facebook page, and have happily described our experience to date.

I have been surprised by the number of folks who are very concerned about the fact that Fans of a Facebook page can post comments and Wall Posts. The concern is that Fans might post negative or offensive comments, and/or that Fans will get into flaming wars with each other over something about your library.

YMMV, but that has definitely NOT been our experience. It turns out that the folks who become Fans of our library on Facebook tend to actually be fans of our library. The comments and Wall Posts have been resoundingly positive.

The sad truth is that few library patrons comment on library blogs, and few Fans comment of Facebook pages. I’m pretty sure we have the most Fans of any US academic library (982 as of today), and on a good week we get 10-15 interactions (comments, likes, wall postings).

I am well aware that flaming happens on the internet, and even happens on some Facebook Fan pages; but my experience has been that it has not happened on our Facebook page, or on any of the other Library Facebook pages I am a Fan of. If anyone knows of a flaming incident, or inappropriate Fan comments on an academic library Facebook page, I would love to hear about it.

Bottom line, I hope libraries don’t use the seemingly minuscule risk of flaming wars as a reason to avoid Facebook, or other web-based ways of interacting with patrons. After all–aren’t libraries supposed to be all about providing spaces for the free exchange of ideas?

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