As I’m scanning public library websites and looking at Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, I’m finding a growing number of occurrences of a message.
The same message, on each page. I’ve seen it already half a dozen times this morning, and probably at least two dozen over the past few days. Currently, I’m seeing it in Wisconsin libraries, but that’s because those are the libraries I’m looking at–there is nothing in the message specific to Wisconsin, as far as I can tell.
Without quoting the message directly, it’s a pitch for a new book, posted by the author; the book is related to the Human Genome Project, supposedly in plain language, and published by Xlibris (a PoD house that charges several hundred to several thousand dollars in advance, making it a vanity press by my standards).
The message is identical on every Facebook wall. It’s either attached as a comment on some library post (none of which have anything to do with the HGP) or offered as a standalone comment, presumably on pages where that’s easy to do.
I’m doing this post for two reasons–and will link to it in a message on Publib and Web4lib for both reasons:
- If you’re an administrator for a public library Facebook page and you see this message and wonder what it’s all about: You’re not alone. It’s popping up all over the place. It’s not specific to your library, although I suppose it’s indirectly arguing that you should buy the book. If you choose to treat it as spam and delete it, you’re probably making a sensible choice. (By the way, for libraries whose Facebook pages are largely inactive: Do you check them once in a while to delete the make-big-money-at-home spam that pops up on such pages?)
- A tiny little part of me wonders whether what this author is doing could be considered legitimate self-promotion? That tiny little part notes that I’ll have a book–from Information Today, Inc., definitely not self-published–out early in 2012 that is directly relevant to every public library and its relations with its community. Should I be posting a notice about that book to every public library Facebook page? Even more interesting: The reason I’m looking at all these Facebook pages is the other book I’m working on, which should be out later in 2012 from ALA Editions–and I suppose you could make the case that it would be directly relevant for me to post something on each and every public library Facebook page (that I’m aware of) about the book. After all, the Facebook pages are the major basis for the study, and the book will allow libraries to see how their Facebook page compares to their peers.
Don’t worry: I have no intention of doing either one. It strikes me as inappropriate and maybe a little unsavory. But I’ve always been a terrible self-promoter, and maybe I’m wrong here. What do you think?