Why I created a library Twitter account

Library user:  “Are you on Twitter?”

Me: “Yes. http://twitter.com/earthlib”

And that’s it.

Here’s a little more about the blue canary

Twitter is a current zeitgeist. That’s why I signed us up. I felt, having ignored it for a good long while, that not giving users of the library at least the opportunity to ‘follow’ us would be closing the door on potential library users. To call yourself a library (a place of information) you surely have to demonstrate that you are keeping current with trends. That you offer all possible lines of communication. Even when there’s no demand.

The library has been on Twitter for a year now and I have a grand total of TWO undergraduates following our progress. One of whom only started following 2 weeks ago, had I been quicker off the mark I could have said just one follower. Now the twitterista might say that I haven’t pushed it enough, that my fortnightly notification of the library news is just not really engaging with the thing. But should I be pushing a service that nobody asks for? How much time (which I don’t have an over-abundance of) should I devote to this tool?

As for academics the only response has been in the form of a question, they’d heard of twitter, I kept mentioning it in the Newsletter and it’s on the library e-mail signature; what is it? what does it do? could I explain? So I tried my best: microblogging, short timely messages, quick back and forth, information exchange, et cetera, et cetera. I was duly thanked for the clarification and then it was suggested that I remove one of the people we follow as their posts tended to be sometimes a little crude. What would you do? Interesting article: riding social media’s trojan horse.

In these past cam23 weeks I have engaged with twitter more, have more followers, and follow more people. I asked, possibly in a twitter post, how is twitter making you a better librarian? So far I’ve had one answer to that post. Twitter fail? You have the right to speak but no-one has to listen to you. I’ve got more questions now:

  • Do you read all the tweets?
  • How often do you respond?
  • How many links do you click on?
  • Do you read all the articles that are linked?
  • Where do you get the time?
  • Am I really that badly organised?

Most of all though, I find Twitter to be specious.


7 thoughts on “Why I created a library Twitter account

  1. Here come some answers to yr qq.

    * Do you read all the tweets?

    Most of them, tho’ not all. If I’ve been off Twitter for a day or more, then some tweets are bound to get missed.

    * How often do you respond?

    I suppose 2-3 times/day.

    * How many links do you click on?

    Depends on time pressures.

    * Do you read all the articles that are linked?

    No – it depends on the article’s importance and the availability of time. I might skim-read or save to Delicious rather than read the whole thing straight away.

    * Where do you get the time?
    * Am I really that badly organised?

    I’d better pass on both those qq. I don’t want to look too closely at the provenance of the time, tho’ I’m very strict about my rule of shunning Twitter at work when anything is in my email inbox. As to how badly organised you are: I can’t tell from here, but presumably, like most people, you are better organised than me.

    1. Thanks the interesting post – it’s interesting to read people’s thoughts about adopting Twitter as a library, rather than personal or professional information, tool, given that library users don’t seem to be using to keep up to date much.

      * Do you read all the tweets?
      Many, but not all – I don’t slavishly catch up on what I miss if I’m away for a day or more.

      * How often do you respond?
      Now and again, because I’m new and shy! I feel happier responding to people I’ve interacted with in other ways (blog comments or even *gasp* real-life, because then I don’t feel like i’m barging into someone else’s conversation).

      * How many links do you click on?
      Surprisingly many, actually, especially Phil Bradley’s.

      * Do you read all the articles that are linked?
      I skim them, but rarely read through in depth.

      * Where do you get the time?
      Not sure. Am doing less knitting.

      * Am I really that badly organised?
      No. Well, maybe yes, but I am too!

      1. I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head there with how or why one adopts Twitter: personal/institutional/social/business. I think you do need to be clear in your mind about why you’re joining and what you want out of it. Am interested in your less knitting answer – does that mean you only look at Twitter when not working? c.f Aidan’s answer to that one and his rules. You have similar replies about the reading articles, Aidan’s choice to sometimes saves to delicious clearly leads to questions that need to be asked about that, but we’ll save it for when we’re doing social bookmarking.

    2. Hi Aidan,

      How do you know if an article is important or not? Do you rely on a quick skim? have addressed some things yu mention in my reply to Girl In the Moon below if you’re interested.

  2. Ah. In truth I don’t know whether the article’s important or not — but I can get some idea from who’s recommended it, & the title, and sometimes the abstract, and a skim-read, and how much effort is rqd to restrict myself to a skim-read. There’s also the point that the article may have been tweeted & re-tweeted several times. That doesn’t in itself prove an article’s importance, but it can be suggestive.

    (Tim Collins, in _The little book of Twitter_, includes the Slowcoach in his list of Twitter types he’d rather avoid — the Slowcoach being the person who starts promoting things long after everyone else has caught on to them, so that Collins’ sample Slowcoach tweet reads “Check out this cool site for finding things on the internet! http://www.google.com“. Have added that to my list of catchphrases.)

  3. I can’t, of course, know if an article is important or not w/o reading — but the title, and the quick skim you mention, and the effort required to give it no more than a quick skim, and the the content & source of the recommendations, will often give me some idea. And, if I ignore it first time round, the # of subsequent recommendations may induce me to explore it later.

  4. I’d echo much of what has been said in your post and comments. I don’t think Twitter would be very useful for our Library service, mostly because it requires a regular feed of relevant information which can be condensed into 140 characters, and we don’t have that need.

    However, I DO find it invaluable as a professional tool. So I am answering your mini-questionnaire from that point of view.

    * Do you read all the tweets?
    No, only those which are something to do with developments in publishing, ebooks, ebook readers, and those which give me a laugh.

    * How often do you respond?
    I hardly ever respond in the sense of writing back, but I do re-tweet a lot. This is because I set up the ebooks Twitter account for current awareness for Cambridge librarians – oddly enough it seems to be more used by publishers and consultants!

    * How many links do you click on?
    The ones that look most useful. Maybe 8-10 a day.

    * Do you read all the articles that are linked?
    I fly over the ones to do with ebooks, and read more thoroughly any that look really relevant. I then post some of them to the ebooks blog and my Twitter feed goes through to my Linkedin profile.

    * Where do you get the time?
    Once or twice a day I dip into Twitter for about 10 mins.

    * Am I really that badly organised?
    Can’t answer that! I think the key thing is to identify what you want out of Twitter (maybe a subject interest?) and get rid of anyone you’re following who turns out to be a bore.

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