Twitter for Libraries

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Twitter – send a message in 140 characters – is one of the fastest-growing social networking phenomenas ever.  Guy Kawasaki calls it “the most powerful marketing tool invented since TV,…and it’s free.”

In just 3 years it has “evolved into a powerful new marketing and communications tool. Regional emergency preparedness organizations are looking at Twitter as a way to reach millions of people during a disaster. NASA is using it to regularly update interested parties about the status of space shuttle flights. And one journalist solicited help from fellow Twitterers to get himself out of an Egyptian jail.” (The Twitter Revolution)

To get a better idea of what Twitter is all about, here is an article by Sarah Milstein that explains it simply, and in particular looks at the ways in which libraries are using or could use this sevice. (Richard Beaudry)

Sarah says “a library could share all kinds of news that patrons want. Short messages can tell people about events such as readings, lectures, and book sales; newly available resources; or changes in the building hours. One message a day or one a week could share a tip on finding or accessing information online or in the building. Twitter posts can link to interesting news stories about literacy or about libraries. When appropriate, the posts can link to a library’s own website and blog for more in-depth information.”

Phil Bradley also has some suggestions for libraries and the types of things they could Twitter:

  • General information updates – opening/closing times
  • Staff information – new staff, old staff, anything about staff
  • New resources – new materials perhaps, collections of resources in particular areas, brief notes on resources that can be used for specific purposes/projects
  • General information – a library is there to provide access to knowledge, so why not do it via Twitter as well – ‘this day in history’, local events taking place in the town, pointers towards resources to supplement information on specific news stories
  • Countdowns for events taking place in the library
  • Linking to images of/in/about the library
  • News alerting services – take feeds from the BBC and CNN for example and reTweet (copy and send on) to your followers
  • Notify students/staff/users/clients about any and everything the library is doing.
  • Be involved in any conversations that take place regarding your organisation, library or subject area of interest
  • Current awareness with regards specific subjects for specific groups of people
  • Updating a news RSS feed on your library page
  • Share best practices with other libraries

“Given the many potential uses of Twitter for libraries—not to mention the likelihood that your patrons are already on it—it’s a great medium to embrace. And at just a few sentences a day, the lightweight format doesn’t require much time to make a big impact.” (Sarah Milstein)

See also  Librarian, Library and Catalog Tweets Revealed!