Disconnecting from Social Media: A Tale of an Engineering Library




Zahradnik, Tracy

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In 2014, the Engineering & Computer Science Library at the University of Toronto created a Twitter account as part of our outreach program. This was our first step into exploring social media. We started this account in part from the pressure that it appeared every academic library was on social media at the time and we wanted to be part of the trend. We poured hours of work into our account and on the surface, our ‘engagement’ metrics appeared to providing a good return. However, after taking a deeper dive into our user community demographics, compared our Twitter to that of other engineering libraries, University of Toronto libraries and engineering departments, the return on investments on the literal hours per week we spent maintaining the account was low. With the addition of evidence starting to rise that social media had an impact on mental health, keeping social media was not in line with the mental health backbone of our outreach program. As a result, our library took down our one and only social media account and has been a social media free library since. The hours spent maintaining our account were used to help bolster our face-to-face interaction with students during outreach activities. This talk will briefly describe our acquiring, maintaining, assessing and dismantling of our social media account and also highlight some of the dangers of social media on mental health.



STEM, STEM librarianship, social media, academic libraries