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Twitter for Libraries (and Librarians)

May 6, 2009
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The in thing right now is Twitter. Even CNN and celebrities like Ashton Kutcher are jumping on the bandwagon of this new social-networking tool.

In the May issue of Computers in Libraries, Sarah Milstein, co-author of “Twitter and the Micromessaging Revolution,” a research report from O’Reilly Media, writes about Twitter for Libraries (and Librarians):

For example, 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.

The essence of Twitter is conversation. Libraries, however, tend to use it as a broadcast mechanism. Libraries on Twitter should encourage followers to interact with the library—ask questions, share links, re-Tweet interesting posts from others, and reply when people message you (those are prefaced with @ your account name). For professional development, look for conference coverage on Twitter.

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.The accounts above will give you a feel for library Twittering (for more libraries that Twitter, check out www.libsuccess.org/index.php?title=Twitter).

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