Greg recently described the changing role of library spaces. An environment once valued for its utilitarianism now entices guests by offering comfort and camaraderie. A change from tradition? Certainly. But this evolution of the library’s space duly reflects the changes in the latest generation’s social interactions and, yes, the rise of social media. That rise is often couched in terms of virtual features and benefits, but the true diamond in the rough of #sm is its effect on our very real lives and our very real relationships.

Social media is more than a technologically advanced version of the letter. The ease and speed with which we can now communicate with multitudes has allowed us to build and maintain bridges that we simply would not, and could not, have done without social media. And while it means we spend more time sharing virtually, it also means we spend more time bonding personally. To be sure, there is plenty of rough in a world of social media, but there is also a sparkling web of social connectivity that, lo and behold, triggers live, in-person interactions that otherwise would not be. And despite its seemingly superficial and ephemeral nature, social media has changed not only the way we communicate, but also the way we learn and the way we expect to learn. Enter the library, with its ability to offer just what our newly connected society needs — a physical space uniquely capable of nurturing our new social ecosystem and fostering the camaraderie and connectivity we now use to learn.
Accommodating and encouraging social learning is just one of many services a library can provide. But carving out that service reflects a recognition of the changing nature of communication and will truly make any library shine.