February 17, 2018

Beth Evans | Movers & Shakers 2007

MySpace = MyOpportunity


When Beth Evans’s teenage daughter told her the only email she read was through her MySpace page, it was ‘a light bulb moment.’ No wonder all the announcements the Brooklyn College Library had been sending students didn’t seem to work! They probably weren’t reading their email either. So she enlisted her daughter to help her set up a MySpace account for her library.

Evans found Brooklyn College students, faculty, and graduates on MySpace and invited them to become friends. By January 1, 2007, seven months after the page launched, 2350 people had accepted the invitation. One proof that it’s more effective than any other communication medium the library uses: when the library posted a job ad using traditional methods, not a single student applied. When Evans posted it on MySpace, she got 25 applications within 48 hours.

The MySpace page tells students about things they didn’t know the library offered, like help with research, music, even movies: ‘We’ve got movies. Some on DVD. Some on VHS. Look ’em up in the Online Catalog. We’ve even got these cool viewing rooms.’

But Evans takes it further. She reads the profiles of new friends, learning far more about them than she ever would have in traditional reference transactions, so she’s able to provide personalized, informal library instruction. For instance, ‘when a health and nutrition sciences major becomes a friend, we can recommend that he or she contact the health sciences bibliographer, whom we name, with any subject-specific questions,’ Evans explains. ‘Or, we can send out announcements to our friends grouped by their major, suggesting that they might want to take a look at a particularly useful database.’ Evans often points out resources to help students with their equally important nonacademic issues, and she even sends them cheery birthday greetings.

For this mother of four, it’s second nature to pay attention to young people. She understands their behavior and considers that an asset to her library. ‘Watching my children in this connected environment has completely influenced my thinking on library strategies, everything from what we say about using cell phones in the library to their ease at multitasking and their desire to stay online with their friends whenever possible.’ Evans hasn’t been shy about borrowing ideas from students, either – if ‘they jazz up their MySpace profiles with music, why shouldn’t we?’

Colleagues praise Evans for recognizing that it makes sense to ‘reach out to the students where they hang out.’ By re-creating the library in cyberspace, she’s made it visible to students.




CURRENT POSITION Associate Professor/Electronic Services Specialist, Brooklyn College Library, CUNY

DEGREES MLS, Queens College, CUNY, 1994

POINT OF PRIDE www.myspace.com/brooklyncollegelibrary