A survey of WeChat application in Chinese public libraries

Published date21 November 2016
Date21 November 2016
AuthorChunmei Gan
Subject MatterLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library technology,Information behaviour & retrieval,Information user studies,Metadata,Information & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
A survey of WeChat application
in Chinese public libraries
Chunmei Gan
School of Information Management,
Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the current characteristics and status of WeChat
application in Chinese public libraries.
Design/methodology/approach Using a sample of 46 sub-provincial and provincial public
libraries in China, this study collected data from their WeChat official accounts. Statistical analysis and
content analysis were employed for data analysis.
Findings The results show that 82.6 percent of the 46 libraries had applied for WeChat accounts and
offered services, of which the earliest created time was March 20, 2013. Differences were found among
history information regarding their numbers, types and contents. Moreover, as for service mode,
84.2 percent of the libraries present custom menus, and 68.4 percent provide self-inquiry information.
In addition, three types of reference services are revealed: real-time services (28.9 percent), services via
telephones or e-mails (36.8 percent) and menu services (7.9 percent).
Originality/value This study illustrates an overall picture of WeChat application in Chinese public
libraries. Extant research has mainly focused on Web 2.0 applications in university libraries, and less
attention has been paid to the application of mobile social media in public libraries. This study
attempts to fill this research gap.
Keywords China, Library services, Public libraries, Social media, WeChat,
Mobile information services
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
In recent years, mobile social media such as WeChat have gained increasing popularity.
WeChat (Weixin or in Chinese), launched in 2011 by Tecent, offers multiple
services to individuals and organizations, including communication services via text
and voice, and social networking services (Wikipedia, 2013). WeChat has rapidly
become an integral part of peoples daily life (Skuse, 2014), and the number of month ly
active WeChat users has reached 762 million by the end of the first quarter of 2016
(Tecent, 2016). One of the WeChat products is the WeChat official account, which
connects individuals with organizations (WeChat, 2015). Organizations, such as
libraries, universities and enterprises, could freely apply for WeChat accounts to offer
services (WeChat, 2015). According to a report issued by iResearch (2015), 79.2 percent
of WeChat users subscribe to WeChat official accounts. Although the increasing
pervasiveness of WeChat official accounts in the peoples lives is well established, there
is much research yet to be done on how this new technology is employed by
organizations to improve their services. Researchers show that the WeChat official
account has been utilized as a marketing tool by academic libraries to promote their
services (Xu et al., 2015). However, how WeChat official accounts are applied in public
libraries is still unclear. In addition, though WeChat has the potential to promote Library Hi Tech
Vol. 34 No. 4, 2016
pp. 625-638
©Emerald Group Publis hing Limited
DOI 10.1108/LHT-06-2016-0068
Received 20 June 2016
Revised 13 August 2016
27 August 2016
Accepted 4 September 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71403301).
The author thanks Jiaojiao Zheng for her work on data collection.
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