Facebook can be a useful tool or a fun way to waste some time. Really the same can be said about a lot of tools we use in the work place. Email, we can’t live without it now (ok I can’t live without it, I don’t know about the rest of you all) but how many of us use our work email to email friends and family? The same can be said about the phone too, although I have to say I use the phone less than I use email. So it isn’t surprising that Facebook can serve two purposes for some people.
I have two Facebook accounts. A public one, The Krafty Librarian, and a personal one. I use the public one specifically to speak about library issues and things of interest to medical librarians, basically it is an extension of my blog. My personal Facebook site is set up really to just chat with friends and family and do typical Facebook-ish type things like post family pictures and talk about personal things like painting my house.
Most people don’t want or need a public Facebook page, and for those that don’t have one it is important to look at the Facebook settings for a personal account and think about whether putting “friends” in categories. I have three main friend categories on my personal Facebook page, family, friends, and librarians. There is some cross over, for example I have some good friends who are librarians so those people are in both lists. Not only does this allow me to restrict access to certain things like family photos to certain groups of people but equally important it allows me to selectively post things to my wall. I can post an library related article and have it only be visible to librarians. Like wise I can post an link to my new favorite TV series The Walking Dead that is only visible to my friends. That way my friends aren’t inundated with library stuff and librarians aren’t inundated with zombie stories.
Having a public site and having my personal site’s friend list subdivided has been very helpful for communicating news, stories, and chatting. But what has been the most helpful is using Facebook’s messaging feature. When I am out of the office on work trips the best way to stay connected to work email is using my laptop. That can get quickly tiresome. So if possible I try and leave my laptop at home for smaller trips. That means my iPhone is the only way I can get email. Since I work in a hospital, I cannot sync my iPhone with my work email. However I can access work’s web mail through it. This is not the most ideal method for viewing and responding to email. Most of the time I use it just to respond to time sensitive emails. Unless I know a person’s email address by heart it is difficult to access my work email’s address book to compose anything.
Monday night I was in Seattle for a site visit for the 2012 annual meeting. Since I live on East coat time and I was visiting West coast time, I was up bright and early at 4:00am with thoughts about speakers and other questions. Despite my best efforts my brain would not turn off and let me go to sleep, it thought it was 7:00am and it wanted me to do something about what was bouncing around in my brain. I decided I would email various people to try and get some answers and ideas to things dancing in my head. I realized most of the librarians I needed to email were already friends on my Facebook account. So instead of logging onto web mail, I launched the Facebook app and messaged the librarians.
Not only can Facebook be a good way to share news and information through a Wall post, but it can also provide an alternative method of personal communication when you can’t access your traditional email system.