David Stuart

Web Analyst and Consultant

Social Media in UK University libraries

Posted on | February 22, 2013 | No Comments

My last post…many months ago…mentioned the fact that I had just been commissioned to write another book: Web metrics for the library and information professional. It’s a project that has taken a bit longer than I would have liked, primarily due to the arrival of a baby, but is now well on the way to completion. Anyway, as part of the book I am collecting data from a number of online sources to show the potential of web metrics and some of the freely available information sources that are available. Unsurprisingly this includes the use of social media in libraries, so as part of the process the main library page for every university library in the UK was visited, and a note made of their social media accounts (excluding blogs, bookmarking buttons, and wider university accounts).

This data is shared here in case it is of use to anyone else.

It does not claim to be exhaustive. Many libraries and librarians will have accounts that are either not linked to, or can only be found from a bit of digging around a web site. Nonetheless this would seem to provide a sufficiently robust sampling process for demonstration purposes and exploratory studies. This list and order of universities is from the Guardian’s 2012 university ranking.*

So what does this table show us – without any complex analysis: if UK university libraries are experimenting with novel forms of social media, they’re not particularly advertising the fact. Twitter and Facebook are the most popular, and with the exception of YouTube, no other site has made much of an impact.

Most prevalent social media:

  1. Twitter – 78/119
  2. Facebook – 59/119
  3. YouTube – 21/119
  4. Flickr – 4/119
  5. Google+ – 4/119
  6. FourSquare – 3/119
  7. Vimeo – 2/119
  8. Pinterest – 1/119
  9. Google Gadget – 1/119

Number of social media per library:

  • 5 – 1/119
  • 4 – 4/119
  • 3 – 17/119
  • 2 – 35/119
  • 1 – 32/119
  • 0 – 30/119

I don’t doubt that university libraries are using a whole range of social media, but they could do much more to advertise the fact.

*Yes. I should have probably used the 2013 ranking which is available here for those who want to cut/sort/paste appropriately.


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This blog is for letting people know some of the things I am working on, although it is extremely infrequent. As my writing has expanded from blog posts to professional journal articles, and finally to books, the number of blog posts I write on my various blogs has inevitably tapered off.

Why blog? For me it turned out to be the first step on the road to a book deal!

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