Digital detox and digital health of library communities: take aways from Internet Librarian 2019

This past week I was fortunate to have attended, and presented, at the Internet Librarian Conference, in Monterey, CA.  As I sometimes find myself a slave to my phone and laptop, I was interested in attending the session titled, Digital Detox: Health of Our Online Communities, presented by Karen McBride, Public Information Manager at Barrington Area Library, and David Lee King, Services Director at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library.  The presenters asked many questions of those in the audience which made for a great discussion and really got me thinking.  Here are some thoughts I came away from the session with...

Should libraries continue using social media?  Should libraries spend tax dollars on social media advertising?  What are librarians responsibilities to their patrons as far as social media goes?  Knowing what we know about it, do libraries belong on social media?

So what do we know about social media?  We know that unethical companies are running much of social media.  These companies are giving away our data and manipulating our news feeds.  You might say they are treating us like a research experiment.  They sell ads to virtually anyone.  They've created an addictive product and they are categorizing our personal interests. 

Someone in the audience brought up a very good point.  How about, instead of disconnecting from social media, let's change the conversation and start asking better questions.  Are we focused on the things that are important to us?  Are we teaching the pros and cons of social media to patrons?  As libraians, let's be good examples of how to use social media and how it can be useful.  For our own mental health, especially for those in charge of their library's social media, use the tools available to schedule posts and have social media policies and guidelines in place.

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Beth Staats

Beth is one of three Reference Outreach & Instruction Librarians with Minitex. She holds a BA in History from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and a Master's Degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  You can reach her by phone at 612-624-7873 or email at