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Social Media University

Tulsa City-County Library

Innovation Leader: Ellen Cummings, Research Center Manager, ecummin@tulsalibrary.org

Problem Statement

The Tulsa City-County Library/TCCL has offered programs for small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and start-ups of both kinds, as well as classes for individuals on computer skills, for many years. As the popularity of Facebook and Twitter grew, social networking kept coming up as a suggested topic during these programs and on evaluation surveys. Library staff members were helping more and more customers connect with social networking on our public access computers. The news reports across all fields were reporting on social networking, whether it was about friending your boss, the temptation of rekindling old romance, or who exactly owns that photo on Facebook. It was everywhere, and TCCL customers had questions. Customers from all walks of life—the economically disadvantaged young job seeker to the local business owner to retired grandmother looking to connect with family—wanted to learn more.

Innovation

Research Center staff gathered to devise a plan to best serve our community in this area. The initial brainstorming was over the map with the team quickly realizing that social media touched all aspects of life in general, and that it would take an ongoing series to address customers’ needs. And just like how we study choose to study all life’s aspects, the group chose university as the appropriate term for their plan, so Social Media University was born. Of course, they began with SMU 101 – basic social media information. Following courses covered more complex topics. The first semester included: Beyond Facebook and Tweets: Taking Social Media to the Next Level; Your Content – Who’s in Control?; and Beyond the Buzz: How to Really Use Social Media for Business.

Progress

The first SMU 101 class filled up in just days, so we added a second class, which also filled. We added a professional development class just for library staff because the interest was so great. Popularity continued to grow. Over 300 students attended classes during the first semester. We actively incorporate participants’ feedback from class evaluations and surveys into future classes and respond to the needs of our customers from all backgrounds. The second semester has now been arranged and includes: Beginning Facebook; Twitter and Social Media Management Tools; The Library Does Blogging with local celebrity, Natasha Ball of TashaDoesTulsa.com; Blogging 101; Copyright Issues; Social Media and your Genealogy; and, legal social media issues that will answer questions regarding Facebook and what you can and can’t say about your employer.