Last week I talked about joining Twitter, and I wish I had the premonition to wait until this week to evaluate it a bit more. But now that I’ve had the chance to really settle into my Twitter account I can discuss my second week on Twitter.
There are certainly a lot of practical reasons to be on Twitter. Prior to having an account I used to do real-time searches on Google (now I go to www.bing.com/social) all the time if I was experiencing tech problems, or when there was the Blackberry blackout. For example, last summer, I was working in Document Delivery and I was having a lot of problems getting articles from a specific database. I did a real-time search and found other users, from other libraries, were having problems. Not only was it comforting to know that it was a general problem, I knew that the company was made aware of the problem. Similarly, I use Twitter for transit updates, depending on the city I’m in.
But you don’t need a Twitter account to keep up-to-date on these problems. The primary reason I joined Twitter was because, I thought it would be a great way to start discussions with other librarians and libraries. So far, I’ve found that Twitter is better served as a mean to connect people. Twitter does do a good job of keeping me up-to-date on library news and keeping track of some of my favourite librarians and library programs. So far, I’ve followed the three libraries that I visit the most often
London Public Library @londonlibrary
Toronto Public Library @torontolibrary
Winnipeg Public Library @wpglibrary
I do find that a lot of the tweets, from all three libraries, are, what David Allen Kelley calls ‘average library tweets’ – tweets about current events at the library. Unfortunately, I’ve stopped paying much attention to these tweets. I would like it if the libraries posted more interactive tweets. For example, I really like Kelley’s ideas of tweeting twitpics of events and using twitter to interact with patrons. I think it’s clear that libraries do need to interact more on Twitter.
Of course, this is extremely time consuming. I’m sure this is the primary reason why the tweets have been so formulaic. As Ellen Hampton Filgo from Baylor University points out – the tweeting to students during class took 3 hours from her workweek. Certainly, this could not be a service provided to every class. There needs to be a middle, because if a library doesn’t use Twitter as more than displaying announcements, they won’t get the level of interaction that they’d like.
Where I see the most interaction on Twitter, is between librarians. The librarians I follow are primarily the librarians I follow on Google Reader. These librarians include
Stephen Abram @sabram
Sarah Houghton @TheLiB (the black librarian)
Sue Polanka @spolanka
Idealistic Librarian @idealistlib
Meg Gerritsen Knodl @DotMeg (Social media/Community Manager for Hennepin Library)
So far, this is what I like most about Twitter. By following other librarians I’ve been able to keep up to date on library issues I’m interested in, and have found links to articles that I’ve really enjoyed. Also, last weekend I followed Stephen Abrams and Sarah Houghton at the New York Public Library Conference.
Overall I think Twitter is a great tool for libraries and librarians and I’m really excited to keep exploring it.