Since beginning library school in the fall of 2010, I’ve developed a fondness for social media, Twitter in particular. This summer I attended the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. While there, I attended my very first Tweet-up. A Tweet-up is a gathering of people who communicate together primarily through the social media network, Twitter.  In many cases, Tweet-ups aren’t exclusively Twitter users, but other social media networks users as well.  At ALA I was able to meet, in person, the other library school students around the country that I had been tweeting with for a year. It was amazing to enter a room full of strangers and realize that we weren’t strangers after all. So, it was with great excitement that I joined the small group of Fayetteville Free Library staff who organized the FFL’s first ever Tweet-up in September.

I’m not sure who had the idea first, but I was more than willing to help make it happen. We discussed what a Tweet-up is and what the goal of ours would be. We saw it as an opportunity to meet the patrons who rarely come into the library. Having the Tweet-up at the beginning of September was also motivated by our desire to let new Syracuse University students know about our library and the amazing services we provide. In one event, we hoped to bring in patrons who rarely utilized the library as a physical space as well as a brand new group of library users.

To market the Tweet-up we coined the hashtag #ffltup and began an almost entirely paperless campaign. First, we made invitations.  Twtvite is an online tool that lets you create an invitation to an event allowing invitees to RSVP using Twitter or Facebook. We created a Twtvite and a Facebook event for the Tweet-up that were open to the public. We drafted tweets and status updates that alerted our friends and followers to the event by broadcasting the URLs for our invitations. Then we designed posters to hang around the campus at Syracuse University to draw students and included the information in our print and digital newsletters.

For the Tweet-up, we pulled out the library’s new laptops for attendees to tweet or post, set up the gaming station to entertain any gamers in attendance, and put together a photo booth with all of the life-size cardboard cutouts in the library. Captain Jack Sparrow was very popular.  Everyone wore a nametag with their Twitter username as well as their real name, so we could recognize each other. I kept a close eye on the #ffltup hashtag during the event and played the part of the candy fairy, delivering sweets to anybody who tweeted during the event. King David’s provided the delicious food, and Café 300 sold drinks.  Towards the end of the night, I took a few of the attendees who had never visited the FFL on a tour of the library.

Everyone who attended said they enjoyed the Tweet-up. I’ve personally been a lot more active with the library patrons (especially the Tweet-up participants) than I had been before. I hope that the FFL will be able to host similar events in the future and draw larger and more diverse crowds.

Welcome to the Library Schooled blog! Library Schooled goes behind-the-scenes with FFL’s amazing student support staff—a group of talented and diverse library school students from Syracuse University.  The blog highlights the unique experiences these students have at the Fayetteville Free Library, and how these experiences are supplementing their studies.  The blog will be updated each month, on the 1st and 15th.  Please join me in welcoming our contributors!
-Lauren Smedley, Syracuse University MLIS graduate, 2011

Katie St. Laurent

Hi everyone, my name is Katie St. Laurent, and I am a student in SU's library and information science program with a specialty in school media.  I've been working at the FFL for a little over a year, and it's been a fabulous supplement to my studies.  Although I've worked in other libraries, Fayetteville is unique in that the staff here is always looking for ways to make the library better, easier to use, and more fun.  Every person that works here is encouraged to contribute ideas and feedback, and most of all to think big.  I may still be just a student, but working here has given me the experience of participating in the ongoing process of making this library, and in turn our community, the best it can be.  With the ability to participate in so many projects, I feel a bit like a kid in a candy store - I want to try it all!  While I'm interested in just about everything, my main areas of focus at the FFL are teen services and assisting with the operation of our book sale fundraiser.

Margaret Portier

I am in the Library and Information Science program at SU. The thing that stands out the most about the FFL is the friendliness and openness of all of the library staff. As a circulation clerk at FFL I realize how lucky I am to work in an environment that offers such support to all members of the staff and subsequently, the community. The FFL wouldn't be as awesome as it is without the people who work there. I'm interested in youth services and technology. Before deciding to pursue my MSLIS at Syracuse, I taught English in Japan for almost 4 years. In that time I taught children as young as 2 years old and adults over 70. My favorite students were elementary and high school students. Now that I'm back in the US, I'd like to continue working with children and youth because their excitement is infectious when learning and doing new things. I'm also interested in technology because I've always been a geek. I remember learning to type on a computer with a black and green screen, how exciting it was when my family switched from a 28.8 modem to a DSL connection. I studied engineering as an undergraduate and I still love pushing buttons and learning how things work.

Jillian Anae Healy

I am just beginning to study Library and Information Science with a concentration in School Media  at Syracuse University. One of my favorite parts about working at the FFL is getting to interact with the patrons.  I have the privilege of constantly meeting and forming relationships with new people, and those individual moments and connections are what stand out at the end of each day.  I have been consistently surprised and impressed by just how tight-knit of a community has been created by the staff at the FFL.  Everyone is aware of and on board with everyone else’s events at the library, and no one would even think twice about going out of their way to help someone else out.  This strong of a community is rare, and I think it creates a dynamic that is truly special.   I am interested in working with children.  I have always known that I love interacting with kids, and getting to combine that with reading, something else that I love, seems just perfect!  One of my goals is to one-day have a read-aloud storytime session- I am especially excited to get to select what picture books I would get to read!

Alyssa Newton

I am studying  Library and Information Science at SU. I love working for an organization that is valued and embraced by a community. Each day I meet new patrons that share with me the reasons they love this library and they remind me why I am going to school to become a public librarian. It is refreshing to view the role of the FFL from so many perspectives and learn what resources are valued and what programs are appreciated by the community.  I am interested in public librarianship with a focus on patron relations and community outreach.  My creative side enjoys finding innovative solutions that enable an organization to meet the needs of its patrons in this world that is constantly evolving.

Sarah Lawler

My name is Sarah Lawler, and I am a first semester Master's student studying Library and Information Science at SU. For me, the best part of working at the Fayetteville Free Library is the community atmosphere. Everyone sincerely makes an effort to ensure the library is a place people want to be, not just because of the excellent resources and technology, but because curiosity is encouraged, no matter what the topic. My areas of interest vary from day to day for the time being, but right now I'm interested in studying the preservation of historical documents.

Meredith Levine

My name is Meredith Levine. I am getting my Master's in Library and Information Science at SU with a Specialization in School Media. My favorite part of working at the FFL is how innovative and involved the library is.  Everyone plays a role, and many roles at that; it is something I am not used to seeing in comparison to my other jobs. Being a student staff member is totally beneficial; it provides me a job that is paid but at the same time experience and great resources. The FFL wants you to come up with ideas and try them out even if they fail; everything is encouraged! I am especially interested in the Children’s library because I am going to school to be a school librarian; however because I worked Circulation at the New York Public Library previously I love that I have a chance to work in a totally different field: Public Relations. This aspect of the library is really important because without the public, we have no library, and once I am a school librarian I will be in charge of promoting my library to the school!{addthis off}

If you've been a frequent visitor to the FFL over the past year or so, you've probably noticed some changes to our Teen Space.  A lot of changes, actually; we're completely reimagining the space and the teen collection!  Just a few of the changes in progress include improvements to the nonfiction collection, a refreshing of our teen fiction collection, and the addition of a gaming station and new furniture. 

Working here and going to school allows me to do double duty - many of my work projects tie in with school projects.  Last semester in my Planning, Marketing and Assessment course I worked with three other students to create a plan of action for completely reinventing the way the Fayetteville Free Library serves its teenaged patrons. 

What we found in our research was that the most important element in planning a teen space is the teens themselves.  Since the space is intended to serve not just as a repository of books for teens, but as a dynamic and functional space for the teens of our community to work on whatever they're passionate about, we needed to find out what they wanted!  To that end, we've established a Teen Advisory Group that meets most months to discuss ideas for anything from programs to furniture to video games.

We also learned that attitude is key in dealing with teens.  Teens are often shut out of public spaces, and libraries are no exception - even those with spaces which are designated for teens.  Teens are shut out by adults who don't understand their developmental stage, by furniture that doesn't fit their bodies, and by atmospheres that stifle their need to socialize. 

The FFL is incorporating this information into its approach to teens.  All staff understands that teens are a valued part of our patron base, and they strive to balance the needs of teens with those of other library patrons.  We've made a point of making our teen librarian, Pete, more visible and recognizable.  He runs Teen Advisory Group meetings and teen programs, and works within the teen space.  Putting a friendly face on teen services has been an easy way to make it clear that teens are welcome and wanted, and that Pete's job is not just to shush them.  We're also working with the teens to tailor the physical space to their needs.

The teen space is a work in progress, and probably always will be.  Not only is the teen population ever-changing, but there will always be new and better services that we can offer.  Our goal going forward is to always keep the needs of teen patrons at the heart of teen services.  Our teen space is not just a slice of the library set aside for teens, but a unique construction of collections, services and space, all designed to support and enrich the teens of Fayetteville.