Thinking Outside the Fan Box: Promoting Literacy with Facebook and Twitter

Illinois Library Association 2010 Conference
Navy Pier, Chicago
September 29, 2010

Stacey Shah, Presenter
Distance Learning Librarian
Elgin Community College (ECC) Library

Online access to the information covered in this poster session is available at

The Concern

In 2009, I attended a panel session at the Association of College and Research Libraries National Conference entitled Widening the net: a research-based collaboration to foster success among at-risk learners by Librarian Kaijsa Calkins and Lecturer Rick Fisher from the University of Wyoming.

Three major ideas of this session caught my attention:

  1. Studies show the literacy among college students is declining.
  2. Reading is a skill. The more one reads, the better a reader one becomes.
  3. Librarians can help college students by encouraging them to read ANYTHING.

ECC Librarians’ Question: Can we use social networking resources to get students to read more and expose them to valuable online resources?

The Process

  1. Choose a valuable online resource with article of interest to patrons
  2. Copy article URL
  3. Use to shorten URL and create short, enticing description of article
  4. auto feeds post into Twitter; becomes a “Tweet”
  5. Copy “Tweet” and paste into Facebook feed
  6. Facebook auto feeds to Fanbox on library website

The Results

Data Collected

  • 322 resources shared
  • 183 hits this month
  • 3127 hits this year
  • 106 Facebook Friends (doubled after adding Fanbox to library homepage)
  • 77 Twitter followers


  • Encourages students to read
  • Exposes students, faculty, and staff to valuable online resources
  • Allows all librarians to easily update library webpage with good resources
  • Ties together library’s presence in Facebook, Twitter, and the ECC Library Blog
  • Allows librarians to track which resources attract the most interest
  • Promotes the library as well as its resources, services, and events



Facebook Developers Wiki, Like Box (Fan Box) creation instructions,



Calkins, Kaijsa and Rick  Fisher. Widening the net: a research-based collaboration to foster success among at-risk learners. Association of College and Research Libraries National Conference, 14 March 2009.

Romano, Lois. “Literacy of College Graduates Is on Decline: Survey’s Finding of a Drop in Reading Proficiency Is Inexplicable, Experts Say.” The Washington Post, 25 Dec. 2005. Web. 2 Sept. 2010.