If you are a librarian you hear it over and over again, social networking *is* where the library world needs to focus. As a librarian I'm surprised to realize just how much I use social networking to do my job.
I obviously blog (since you are reading my blog) but I also use twitter, facebook, and myspace. Some teens have my email address and have emailed me or IMed me via google talk, and I've gotten text messages from teens about events and books (although text might not be considered social networking, but for the purpose of this blog I am going to lump it in).
Facebook is the social networking site I use the most, and the one through which most of my library-related communication is also focused. It really isn't a big deal for me to log onto my facebook in the morning and have a teen IM me about a book that he or she wants, or a program that's coming up that day. My library recently launched an AniManga club, and one of the patrons who attended ended up making a facebook event for the next meeting. I use facebook messages to talk to patrons, and even other staff that I might need to get a hold of. The teens at the library sometimes IM me just to say hi or chat a bit. I've even used facebook to keep up with librarian friends that I've met who live across the state from me.
If you'd told me when I first signed up to facebook/myspace/twitter, et. all that I'd be using these sites to be a librarian who was almost always available, I'd have been surprised. When I first signed up to those sites it was mostly to reconnect with old friends, or keep up with new ones that I've met. Now I can't imagine doing my job without the use of these sites.
I will admit, that having such open access to my social networking profiles does make it so I need to be careful of what content I post on there, but that's not always such a downside. It's probably best that I not post on the Internet anything that I wouldn't want getting around the library because you never know what might come back and bite you in the butt one day.
So yes when they tell you at those conferences that social networking is important to your library; listen up. Social networking can be one of the easiest ways to communicate with patrons and build relationships in the library.