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Engaging the Community With Social Media

Brent Bloechle, Library Manager, Plano Public Library System, and Beth McGough, Marketing Manager, Social Media, ProQuest

Brent Bloechle, Library Manager, Plano Public Library System, and Beth McGough, Marketing Manager, Social Media, ProQuest


Brent Bloechle described some interesting ways to use social media to engage his local community. The Plano Public Library (PPL) system has 5 libraries. It users make heavy use of the library’s digital content; in fact, statistical data revealed that the PPL accounted for about 60% of access to the Plano city’s website.

The library decided to gradually move into social media use, starting with blogs. The first one was called Infolinks, used mostly for tax and election information. Succeeding blogs were PlanoReads and Kids’ Brain, both of which were used for book, music, and movie reviews. The public was allowed to post comments to the website, which was a challenge for the library staff. Next, teens were allowed to post on Plano Teens Connect, where they added reviews, homework help, reviews, and games. Genealogy Plano hosts genealogy questions, and a job site completes the blogs.

About 3 years ago, a Facebook site was launched.  It now hosts weekly scheduled posts, such as literacy tips, new titles, book reviews, city activities and fun things on such popular topics as cats. 3-5 posts are added every day. A Twitter site has similar content, such as Book of the Day, library activities, city activities, and blog information. Flickr hosts a photo repository of library activities.

The goal is to post information in more than a single place to attract the widest possible audience. A YouTube channel for video book reviews, playlists for puppet shows, etc. is about to be started. Tuesday Titles allows people to enter a book or author they like and have the system suggest books to read. This provides a good communication method to engage the audience, and it has been well received.

PPLS launched a summer reading program for 2013 (the Suburban Dare), in which 5,772 participants completed the dares and read a total of 22,599 books. It was promoted on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Beth McGough, Social Media Manager, ProQuest described a study of how university students use social media for research. Here are the details of the study.

Study details

It was no surprise to find that virtually all students are on Facebook. Some students are using social media for research, but they do not use it to pose questions to librarians or faculty. Only 1 of 20 students received any training in using social media, and most of them do not know how to use social media for study. About half of them are interested in having the library develop communities for different disciplines.

Here are some conclusions and recommendations for libraries:




All of Beth’s slides can be found here.



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