Tweeting Libraries

Many librarians remain unfamiliar with the concepts and practices inherent in what we know as Library 2.0. I suggest free social software is the place to start if you want to get savvy regarding technological tools that aid library success. You might have a look at this list by a site called Accelerated Bachelor Degree. the list is almost exactly what the URL suggests–100 ways a library can use Twitter to push its brand and get hyperconnected with its community.

The recommendations in this list are very brief and come without elaboration. Yet, while I would not suggest that a librarian who is new to Twitter should use it to become instantly adept at Twitter’s numerous useful applications in the library, it is certainly a useful listing of Twitter presences to check out as you get started. Following are several excerpts from an essay I recently wrote on the use of cloud computing in libraries. Highlighted here are some of the most useful applications of Twitter for librarians.

The Skokie Public Library uses its free Twitter account to communicate on a daily basis with its community. Twitter is advantageous to libraries in a number of ways, not the least of which being a means of performing reference. Twitter acts as an SMS service, as users from anywhere can easily direct a short question to SPL’s Twitter page and expect a prompt response from a professional reference librarian. Furthermore, a Twitter user does not have to direct his question solely to his own library’s Twitter account. The user has access to every library using Twitter for purposes of reference, giving him an entire network of reference professionals to locate information on even the most daunting queries.

Twitter is especially useful to libraries as it can be used to serve several functions beyond reference. For one thing, libraries can use Twitter to push programs and services to the tweeting community. In this way, Twitter functions as a means of free advertising for new acquisitions, book clubs, children’s and adult programming, special events, and other forms of community outreach. Librarians can also use Twitter to link to other sites. The Ela Area Public Library can use its Twitter page to link to larger advertisements on the library’s main website, directing users to fast information about forthcoming events and other library news. The Madison Public Library regularly links to photos on its Flickr site to showcase construction progress at several of its smaller branches. In this way, users can stay mindful of what is going on with their local libraries while getting a sense of involvement.

Another function of Twitter is brand monitoring. As practiced on sites like Twitter, Yelp, and Technorati, brand monitoring is a smart and practical use of cloud technology for libraries. The Skokie Public Library has a very active usership where Twitter is concerned. Librarians not only market events and programs, but they are also able to monitor conversations among users to analyze what the community is saying about the library. Conversations among library users may include praise for a service or event, criticism for a change in floor plan, or simply a tweet about a favorite chair or quiet corner of the library.



About Steven V. Kaszynski
librarian, editor, contributor

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