Learn More: Twitter

[This is one in a series of self-paced discovery exercises for library staff venturing into the social web.]

“It’s Monday? Again??”

That’s how I enthusiastically embraced the work week this morning in Twitter. Several friends saw the 20-character message because my random thought wandered out across the social web. The same thing happened when I was “kicking the day out of my shoes” and when I was “gardening – Olive Gardening.”

Many social sites let you express your thoughts and creativity, but none compresses that expression with the concise style of Twitter. The popular site asks you to share what you’re doing or thinking in 140 characters or less. That’s only about 20-25 words. You might call it a microblog.

Some people don’t get the concept; others love it. Big announcements — “I got the job!” (14 characters) – are possible, but most entries – “gotta go to another meeting” (27 characters) – don’t reveal much. Twitter’s value increases over time, however, as friends learn more about each other from the collected log of messages. Your followers might discover what excites you, what annoys you, and glimpse some of your life’s miscellany that would never make it into an email.

Users can send tweets (as Twitter messages are known) via mobile phones and pipe them into other applications, too. That makes the site even more appealing to folks who like to be in continuous “live” mode online. You can arrange meetings on the run and connect with friends wherever they are.

Critics say Twitter is a waste of time and produces endless blather. Let them say that! “At least it’s short blather” (27 characters).

Meaning for libraries

I can’t offer a long list of Twitter applications for libraries.  I’m not yet convinced it can attract or assist patrons much, but I’d certainly recommend experimentation.

A university library — dealing with a finite community of users — might find twittering more productive than a public library. A librarian with a network of patron followers might develop ways to share short service updates: “Lots of computers are available right now” (41 characters) or “Just got the new * in the mail” (29+ characters).

Library staff should be aware of Twitter, at least. Many of our patrons use the site in their private lives. Librarians use it, too, and any networking within the profession is good.

Learn more by participating

In the spirit of the site, I’ll keep this short.

  • Open a Twitter account.
  • Encourage a coworker or friend to join, too.
  • Become followers of each other.
  • Post a tweet a few times a day, every day this week.
  • Whattya think? Is it fun? Might it be useful? Is it a waste?

My 56-character Twitter update: “Steve is prepared for the week now. Oh, wait a minute…”

7 Responses to Learn More: Twitter

  1. Steve Campion says:

    Please note: Compared to most other topics in this series, Twitter is a very simple site. I wanted to include it eventually, though. Today seemed best, since you might still be exploring the huge social networking sites from last week (which included mention of Facebook’s status update — a feature similar to Twitter) and we’ll have another huge (and somewhat related) topic next week. For now: Enjoy the tweets!

  2. Tamara says:

    Our library is looking into using Twitter for the portion of our website devoted to our computer lab. There are many tech gliches on a week to week basis, and people tend to have blinders on and not read signs. We’re thinking about adding a Twitter-like feed to the IE homepage/ computer lab page that alerts people of changes, updates, tutorial links, printing issues, etc. Public libraries can use Twitter too!

  3. Steve Campion says:

    That’s imaginative thinking, Tamara! Good luck working out the details. I hope your idea succeeds.

  4. […] LibraryStream sorozata a Learn More, amely a FIKSZ-en is található leckékhez hasonló. Legutóbbi része a Twitterről szólt, ami most amúgy is eléggé jó téma (ld. korábbi bejegyzésemet), itt most […]

  5. madliblab says:

    As people bring in books and they tell us it was a great read, we put a silver star on the book. I’m wondering if a Twitter stream might be a fun & way to get these book titles onto our website.

  6. […] Learn More: Twitter from Steve Campion […]

  7. […] Learn More: Twitter: This library blog offers informative posts about how to use new and emerging technologies. This particular article can give you the basics on how Twitter may be applied to library use. […]

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