Interactions between English-speaking and Chinese-speaking Users and Librarians on Social Networking Sites

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Information services, Library users

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Social networking sites (SNSs) can encourage interaction among users. Existing research mainly focuses on the ways in which SNSs are used in libraries and on librarians’ or users’ attitudes towards these SNSs. This study focused on the flow of information via SNS interactions between librarians and users on library Facebook, Twitter, and Chinese Weibo sites, and developed an SNS user interaction type model based on these information flows. A mixed-method approach was employed combining quantitative data generated from the analysis of 1,753 posts sampled from 40 library SNSs and qualitative data from interviews with 10 librarians. Four types of interactions were identified: information/knowledge sharing, information dissemination, communication, and information gathering. The study found that SNSs were used primarily as channels for disseminating news and announcements about things currently happening in the library. Communication allowed open-ended questions and produced more replies. In Facebook posts, Chinese Facebook users generated less “likes” than English-speaking users. The comparison of data between Facebook-like and Twitter-like SNSs in different library settings suggested that libraries need to coordinate different types of SNSs, and take library settings and sociocultural environments into consideration in order to enhance and encourage user engagement and interaction.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, v. 66, issue 6, p. 1150-1166