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Hi everyone, Kat from the law library here again. On Wednesday, I attended a lunchtime talk at the Radcliffe Science Library entitled ‘Join the conversation with Twitter’. It featured three speakers talking about the use of twitter by libraries, and I found it really interesting, so much so that I thought I’d share some of the things I took away. You can see a synopsis of the talk on the RSL’s Facebook page.

First, Michael O’Hagan (@OHaganMichael) talked about the research he did for his library school dissertation, which was a study of academic libraries using twitter. He looked at lots of different academic libraries’ twitter analytics, and tried to get a picture of what they used twitter for, how much interaction there was with other people, who those people were, what the interaction was about, and how popular twitter seemed to be as a method of communication. Personally, if you’d asked me to guess the answers to these questions, I might have pessimistically expected a lot of interaction and followers to be other librarians and libraries, and for there not to be much interaction with genuine readers. So I was pleasantly surprised when he explained that, actually, there seemed to be quite a bit of interaction with readers asking questions and giving feedback about library services, which is a promising sign that Twitter is a good method of communication. He also had quite a bit of advice about how to use Twitter more effectively in libraries, based on the most successful institutions he’d looked at. This included:

  • Tweet frequently! Also, given that it’s very easy to miss things on Twitter if you follow lots of people, if there’s something you really want people to notice, try tweeting different phrasings of it several times over the course of a day.
  • Follow other feeds that are part of your institution: Oxford University, the Bodleian, your department or faculty, academics who have professional twitter accounts. Then retweet things you think are interesting or relevant. This starts a conversation with other twitter accounts which may have larger or different followings, which can help to increase your exposure.
  • Keep track of what people are saying about you – if people reply or retweet anything you post then Twitter will let you know anyway, but it’s worth looking for indirect references (for example, if someone just writes ‘law bod’ in a tweet but doesn’t use @thelawbod). You can also search by location to restrict to mentions in Oxford.
  • If readers have specific questions about the library, respond as quickly as possible. Twitter comes with the expectation of immediate response, which can be a problem if you’re not checking it regularly.
  • However, don’t be creepy! If someone refers to your library in a conversation but isn’t asking a question, then maybe don’t jump in – it is going on in a public space, but having an institutional account reply to a twitter conversation between a few readers might be a bit much!
  • Use pictures and links – tweets with these are more likely to be retweeted (unsurprisingly) which increases the number of people reading them.

Next, Isabel Holowaty (@iholowaty) gave a presentation with tips and advice about using Twitter from her use of it for the History Faculty Library (@HFLOxford). She also showcased using an iPad to present via a projector, which was very cool! She recommended using a programme/app which allows you to see information about several twitter accounts without constantly signing in and out (which you have to do on the twitter website), and showed us HootSuite, the one she uses. This allows you to link all sorts of different social media accounts: different Twitters, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, even WordPress for blogs, and produces columns showing feeds for each of them. You can pick what appears in each column, for example your sent tweets, mentions, retweets or direct messages, and can search your different accounts, save searches, and tweet from any account. It definitely seemed like an alternative to just using twitter’s website (which is what I currently do), because it saves you from having to sign in and out to change account. I would be a bit worried about accidentally retweeting or following someone from the Law Bod’s account rather than my own, though! HootSuite also allows you to schedule tweets for a later date, which I thought sounded useful as well. At the Law Bod, we’ve just started a Twitter rota (more below), where different staff take a morning or an afternoon and tweet a few things they think are interesting. I’ve found since signing up that quite often I have all these ideas throughout the week and then on Monday afternoons: nothing! It would be great to be able to schedule some that aren’t time-dependent when I think of them to go out on Monday afternoon, and then just check them over on the day. Isabel also advised searching for your library to find indirect references, including all possible misspellings of Bodleian! She also pointed out that if your library has a blog, and new blog posts get tweeted about, it’s worth coming up with a punchy title, otherwise your tweets look a bit boring.

HootSuite for @thelawbod

HootSuite for @thelawbod

Lastly, Penny Schenk (@galoot) talked about my library, the Law Bod, as a case study of an academic library using Twitter. She explained that we’ve recently started a Twitter rota, and that this has massively increased our activity on Twitter, and also the variety of different things we tweet about. We try to follow mostly organisations rather than individuals, to ensure things stay professional. The rota means that we hopefully tweet every working day, which has definitely helped increase our following. She also suggested using the ‘follow friday’ meme (where Twitter users suggest a person they follow who they think writes interesting things) to build conversations with other users.

I found the talk really interesting, and definitely think the Law Bod should take everyone’s suggestions on board. I’ll by trying out HootSuite, and retweeting more things from the Law Faculty, the Bodleian, and Oxford on my Monday afternoon slots! Judging by the History Faculty Library’s almost 2,500 followers, frequent, interesting, varied tweets and retweets with links and pictures seem to be the way forward.

Thanks for reading and, if you like, follow @thelawbod or me, @kastrel (although be prepared for anything from cross stitch to formula one, as I tweet on all sorts of things).

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This week in our trainee session we were investigating the use of Information Literacy and Web 2.0 (social media).  Web 2.0 signifies the change in which the web is no longer just about providing information but linking people together, sharing and discussing information.

We watched an interesting (and very creative!)  video which explains the shift:  The Machine is Us/ing us

As part of the session we had been split into groups to research and present a particular aspect of social media including; blogs, social networking sites (Facebook), twitter, social book marking sites (Delicious), podcasting, Wikis and LibraryThing.

The presentations were really interesting (especially as I knew very little about Delicious, Wikis and LibraryThing beforehand!) and the source of much discussion! Some of the key points that I took from the session include:

  • It’s important for libraries to have an online presence that is linked into many aspects of social media and that continues to evolve with the constant changes and updates
  • Many of the social media based services are free and simple to use and often provide a library presence in a media with which readers are already engaging.
  • Although setting up and maintaining media such as blogs, twitter or Facebook may seem time consuming, they can save time in the long term, especially as information can be shared quickly and efficiently across platforms and may replace or reduce time spent on other task such as bulk e-mailing, writing newsletters or answering enquiries via e-mail.
  • Social media is a great tool for advertising and marketing of library services, it provides more ways for readers to find, contact and learn about the library.
  • It’s not all about stats!  It’s about getting the information out there and helping readers to access and use it quickly and effectively.

Jayne and I worked on a presentation looking at the use of Blogs in Libraries.  To really show off what a blog can do we decided to present our information in blog form.  So if you’d like to learn more about the purpose, features and uses of blogs in libraries here is a link to our blog:

Lib-Blogology

It’d be great to hear other views on library blogging so feel free to comment, ask questions or share good practice by suggesting library blogs you’ve found interesting or helpful!

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Hi everyone, I’ve written some thoughts about Twitter. Would be interested to hear if/how/why you use it at your libraries, and any answers to the thorny question below.

 

 “A Twitter feed for the library! What’s the point in that?”

 

What is a library without a Twitter feed these days?  Given the number of us who lovingly tend our accounts on a daily basis, letting our readers know with admirable foresight any alterations to opening hours, or perhaps informing the world that e-journal access is not currently working (No, wait! It’s back. Oh no, it’s gone again), you could be forgiven for thinking that the answer is ‘not very much’.  Alongside the irresistible rise of 23 Things and the ubiquity of the library blog, the little blue bird has become a sure sign of the tech savvy, forward thinking Library (2.0). Without it, you’re really nothing but a collection of books.  And who wants that?

I’ve been cultivating the Taylor Slavonic’s feed since I started. We’ve had our ups (currently being followed by the Telegraph’s Moscow correspondent) and our downs (also being followed, for reasons I don’t fully understand, by Elite Chauffeurs – “Hackneys and Executive cars for all occassions”), but on the whole we’ve seen the follower count go up to 195 and even had a few re-tweets. So far, so good. But aside from the obvious satisfaction of having more followers than the Taylorian (a derisory 165), I’m still curious as to why exactly it is that I spend about an hour a day finding stuff to tweet about, tweeting it, and paying attention to the tweets of others. Or, as one of our readers put it a touch more bluntly, while glancing at my lovingly crafted poster, “A twitter feed for the library! What’s the point in that?

Bill Drew of Tompkins Cortland Community College Library, NY, provides a succinct overview of why a library might be interested in Twitter, including being able to keep readers up to date with library developments, providing a reference service such as local news, and enquiring after readers’ opinions quickly and easily. This said, the majority of Drew’s reasons, good though they are, relate more to the institutional side of libraries rather than to reader services. For example, networking, keeping up with other libraries, following notable information professionals, none of which answer my reader’s question.

One way to respond would be to explain what we tweet about and why. As you can see from the poster, the aim was to expand the scope a little further than simply info about our Christmas holiday dates (24th Dec – 3rd Jan, in case you’re interested, but you’re not, are you?):

Twitter Poster

In short, if an event, news story, broadcast, resource or person relates either academically or culturally to any language in our library (and we have quite a few), then it gets tweeted. Over the past few weeks @TABSOxford has tweeted about: online resources for Russian history; digitisation projects of Byzantine manuscripts; details of free film screenings in Oxford; a whole host of lectures and seminars; times and dates of concerts in Oxford; and a fair few re-tweets for articles and websites of potential interest.

And why? Well, I like to think that in its own modest way, the feed is a place to:

I also hope that all this works cumulatively to make the library seem:

  •  Engaged and connected with the faculty and its subjects
  •  A hub for relevant interesting information (broader than simply being that building with all the books in it)
  •  Up to date and shiny – unlike the décor.

But what you put up on Twitter is only half the story. Or, rather, if no one is reading your story, then there is very little point in writing it. Because Twitter is the high demand shelf of the internet: small pieces of information that are needed at a particular time, briefly, but by many people. If your tweets are not being read and used, it doesn’t matter how valuable or interesting they may be, they don’t belong there. Twitter is not some sort of digital archive where information has value independent of use, imbued with a kind of potential irrespective of whether or not it’s consulted frequently (or at all). It’s all about temporary, widespread dissemination and, crucially, reception. In short, the best Twitter feeds link good information with the people who want it.

So I suppose the only way of answering my reader’s question would be to say, because our followers use it. At least I hope they do. Luckily, I know a good way to ask them. I’ll get back to you.

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