Category Archives: Micro-Content: Twitter & More

Associations Using Twitter: CILIP’s “Epic FAIL” & Playing Nice

Do not miss this intriguing discussion that really speaks to the sea change were in.

Star here, with this post from Bob McKee, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP): (emphasis in bold mine)

There’s some twittering at present about whether CILIP has (or should have) any “official” presence on various lists or micro blog sites.

The simple answer, of course, is no. In terms of “official” activity, cyber life is just like real like – if it happens in a CILIP-sanctioned space, it’s official; if it happens down the pub or in someone else’s space, it isn’t.

But there’s a deeper question to address. As everybody networks with everybody else in an increasingly informal and always-on way, how do organisations maintain a culture of inclusion and, at the same time, retain a methodical approach to work planning, managing, and decision-making? This is a critical issue for organisations like professional bodies or indeed academic institutions – any organisation where a rational approach to management is potentially conflicted by the emotional affiliation of members to their peer group: academics to their field of study rather than to their university; LIS specialists to their field of specialism rather than to their professional institute.

Then, head to Phil Bradley’s blog:—epic-fail.html

… I like Bob – he’s a nice chap and very personable, but I can’t articulate enough how wrong he is on this issue, though I’ll try. He says ‘There’s some twittering at present about whether CILIP has (or should have) any “official” presence on various lists or micro blog sites. Sorry Bob, but we were discussing this on Twitter two weeks ago. The boat has long since left on this one and we’ve moved onto other things related to CILIP now. This in itself is worrying – if you’d actually looked at Twitter you would have known this, so clearly you’re being briefed and are blogging about it without any real understanding. That’s fair enough in a way, because no-one can be on top of everything, though if it’s important enough for you to blog, surely it’s important enough to research a little yourself.

The more important issue isn’t that, it’s the delay in a response. Two weeks is not only unacceptable, it’s insane. We don’t live in a world where people have the leisure to take their time crafting a response; we did back in the day when websites were the way to get a message out, but then we moved into a response time of hours with blogs, and now we’re at minutes with Twitter. As a rule of thumb, I’m finding that a mention of an organization or company on Twitter is getting me a response within a couple of hours now. And these are companies, both large and small, who feel that it’s important to respond to comments from individuals, both good and bad. Less than this is sending out a very poor message indeed. Now, I know that the answer here is going to be referred to lack of staff, limited facilities and so on, and that’s simply a cop out. An effective use of resources, monitoring blogs etc can be automated, take very little effort to set up or use and information can then be disseminated through the organization quickly. In my courses I teach librarians how to do this, and in most cases it’s just pointing them towards the right tools. If they can do it on a personal level, surely we can expect the professional body to do the same thing?

Phil’s points are golden – especially about monitoring the conversation and the automated options that make it doable. Frankly, there will is no “sanctioned space” any more for organizations or associations. If you believe that – there’s a problem. the conversation will go on long after everyone has decided to ignore your sacred, sanctioned space. That’s what the “Hyperlinked Library” is all about – transparency, listening, responding.

Into the mix come Jenny Levine, and her take on ALA’s use of Twitter:

And wow did Twitter play a big part. Kenley Neufeld sums it up pretty well, and even notes how fun the experience was. If you had asked me, I wouldn’t have predicted that four councilors would tweet from the floor during council sessions, thereby providing an effective, real-time transcript of what was happening. Even beyond that, though, I got to participate in meetings I wasn’t physically at (from within other meetings), as did people who weren’t even in Denver. And good things came from all of it (including a helpful guide for what *not* to do).

So when we got back, I decided to do a presentation at the February ITTS Update meeting about Twitter on ALA. Not ALA on Twitter, but Twitter’s effect on the Association and the story of Midwinter that Twitter produced. Luckily, many of the people who tweet about us have a sense of humor, so there were some good laughs in the screenshots, especially about our content management system (Collage). So thank you to everyone who publicly tweeted about us in January, especially at Midwinter, because you helped me illustrate a moment in time when something changed forALA. I definitely think communication and conferences will never be the same for our organization, and I’m fascinated to see where this all leads.


As I was getting ready to hit the “publish” button, I saw Phil Bradley’s post about CILIP and Twitter (or lack thereof). It made me realize how far ALA has come, and how lucky I am to work in an environment where I’m allowed to experiment in these spaces and help integrate them into the Association. I live in a really special place right now, both professionally and personally, and I don’t take that for granted.

And Jenny linked to Peter Bromberg’s post about Twitter etiquette. Peter is one of my favorite bloggers. I appreciate his take:

  1. Twittering the real-time decisions of your committee: GOOD  
  2. Twittering snide, insulting, remarks about your fellow committee members while they speak: NOT GOOD  
  3. Twittering snide, insulting remarks about your fellow committee members while they speak and marking it with #ala09 hash tag to ensure that the widest possible audience sees your comment: REALLY VERY NOT GOOD


We actually talked about this in class last night. With folks so connected and the opportunity to contribute to back channel chatter so easy these days, we should remind ourselves of the this simple rule: Play Nice. I’ve been disappointed of late seeing some of the snarky chatter and lack of respect for speakers and conference attendees at some events. Folks pay money for conferences and should have a civil, engaging experience free of in-jokes and snark. Constructive criticism is good if it contributes. As Peter points out, snark is NOT GOOD.

So..this rambling post leads to these points for all:

  • Use Twitter and other tools in your library or organization in ways that makes sense and serve the mission/vision of what you are doing: to save time, to smooth a process, to communicate, to respond.
  • Don’t dismiss the power of conversations happening OUTSIDE your space. They are probably just as important if not more.
  • Play nice via the social tools. Respect people’s viewpoints and engage with them. Snark is cheap. Snark is easy.  Put yourself in the shoes of someone just discovering the Biblio-social-network-sphere or attending a conference for the first time on hard-earned money. What experience should they take away?

Twitter in the Classroom

David Silver writes:

this semester, twitter is the main mode of communication used by my students and me. twitter has replaced at least three classroom technologies, and has streamlined our outside-the-classroom conversations and collaborations.

twitter has replaced the class listserv. for years, i’ve used a listserv (alternatively called a mailing list or discussion list) to extend our discussions beyond the classroom. these days, when we want to continue conversations, the 12 students in DMP, the 17 students in ESF, and i use twitter.

twitter has replaced email announcements. in the past, if something’s come up, or i want to add a reading, or we have a location change, i would send all the students in class an email. these days, when i have something to announce, or when my students have something to announce, we use twitter.

twitter has replaced the cardboard box i used to bring to class on due dates. in the past, my students would print out their papers and bring them to class; i’d collect them in a box and take them back to the office to grade. these days, my students write blogs, design flickr sets, upload vidoe, and post works-in-progress. when finished, they tweet about it so that i – and, more importantly, their peers – can check it out.

We’re doing similar in LIS768. Follow along  here: Feel free to chime in!

Pew on Twitter

As of December 2008, 11% of online American adults said they used a service like Twitter or another service that allowed them to share updates about themselves or to see the updates of others.

Twitter and similar services have been most avidly embraced by young adults. Nearly one in five (19%) online adults ages 18 and 24 have ever used Twitter and its ilk, as have 20% of online adults 25 to 34. Use of these services drops off steadily after age 35 with 10% of 35 to 44 year olds and 5% of 45 to 54 year olds using Twitter. The decline is even more stark among older internet users; 4% of 55-64 year olds and 2% of those 65 and older use Twitter.

Read about the new report from Pew here. The last section speaks to the importance of mobile communication platforms and open APIs:

Overall, Twitter users engage with news and own technology at the same rates as other internet users, but the ways in which they use the technology — to communicate, gather and share information — reveals their affinity for mobile, untethered and social opportunities for interaction. Moreover, Twitter as an application allows for and enhances these opportunities, so it is not so surprising that users would engage in these kinds of activities and also be drawn to an online application that expands those opportunities.

FirstMonday Article on Twitter

Social Networks that Matter: Twitter Under the Microscope

From the conclusion:

Many people, including scholars, advertisers and political activists, see online social networks as an opportunity to study the propagation of ideas, the formation of social bonds and viral marketing, among others. This view should be tempered by our findings that a link between any two people does not necessarily imply an interaction between them. As we showed in the case of Twitter, most of the links declared within Twitter were meaningless from an interaction point of view. Thus the need to find the hidden social network; the one that matters when trying to rely on word of mouth to spread an idea, a belief, or a trend.

Intriguing. Meaningless? Sometimes but I’d also want to see more analysis and possibly a few other methodologies.

More on Twittering Libraries…a TTW Guest Post by Lindy Brown

Lindy shared her project for LIS5313 with me via email and I asked her to share her study with TTW readers. Thanks Lindy! Michael

Recently, I read a post from about Twitter’s staggering growth in 2008: Twitter grew 752 percent in 2008 for a total of 4.43 million unique visitors in December! What does this mean for libraries? As Twittermania spreads, more and more of their patrons are will use it to communicate, socialize and make connections.  As such, libraries should see the unlimited potential Twitter can have to connect them to their community and beyond.

Libraries must adjust to reflect the expanded use of social media by our youth (see the recent John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur report from the Digital Youth Project). Much has been debated and discussed about the library staying relevant; I believe we must meet our users “where they’re at.” One way to do this is through social media, and Twitter is part of that repertoire. 

This past fall I wrote an article titled Twittering Libraries for my LIS 5313 (Design & Production of Media) graduate class at Florida State University. The article provides background information and a brief history of Twitter, notes the pros and cons reported by libraries using it, and shares findings on innovative ways libraries are using the service. 

At the time, I found about 90 libraries on Twitter and I emailed the survey to all of them. Sixty-five libraries/librarians replied. From that information, I wrote my article. I found out that overall, most librarians said Twitter is easy, fun, free to use, is a great marketing and public relations tool, allows for collaboration amongst staff and community, provides opportunities for professional development and networking, has strength in its brevity, and allows libraries to, as one librarian put it, “build street cred.” 

My article is just a little window into the endless possibilities that Twitter can provide for libraries/librarians. Since then, I have found many more libraries using Twitter. Furthermore, recent comments on blog posts by Jenny Levine (The Shifted Librarian) and the ACRL blog show continued expansion and ingenious uses of Twitter. (Definitely check out Brian Mathews’ paper, Twitter & the Library: Thoughts on the Syndicated Lifestyle, that is connected to the ACRL post). 

Some may argue that Twitter is yet another web 2.0 fad, but I believe we’re only seeing the beginning of its utility. Even with a limited reach, Twitter is a free and not-so-time-intensive tool that libraries/librarians can use to improve their services, create relationships with their patrons and community, and use for assessment and promotion. I believe that with 752 percent growth in just the past year, Twitter is more than just a fad, and its reach currently has limitless potential.

If you or your library is using Twitter in a way not discussed in the LIS 5313 article, please share! 

Lindy Brown is currently an academic counselor at Oregon State University, a mid-size public research university. She holds a M.Ed. in Student Personnel in Higher Education from the University of Florida and is currently working on her MLIS through Florida State University’s distance education program, with specializations in Reference & Instruction and Leadership & Management. 

An Open Letter to (Libraries) on Twitter

Jenny points to a wonderful post at Museum 2.0:

1. Don’t use Twitter to spam me about visiting. 

2. It’s okay if you start by just following. 

3. Once you decide to tweet, make it interesting. 

4. Tell me something I can’t find on your homepage. 

5. Tell me who you are.

6. Respond to people. 

7. Give me content worthy of your institution.

Great suggestions for sure, especially the bit about using to Twitter to share the museum’s humanity.

Choosing Who To Follow on Twitter

Phil Bradley writes:

The method that I use is fairly simple – 
a) Do I know this person myself? If so, it’s almost a certainty that I’ll add them. 
b) Do I know of them? Again, if the answer is yes, they’ll get added. 
c) If I don’t know them, what does their profile say? Everyone can add a small profile piece about themselves. If the profile is blank or not informative, they tend not to get added. 
d) How many tweets on the first page of their profile are useful to me? If I start looking, reading and clicking almost instantly, they’ll get added. If not, it’s unlikely that I’ll add them.
e) Are most of their tweets replies to other people? If so, and if I don’t know the people they’re replying to it’s a waste of my time to read their stuff.
f) Are their tweets written in a language I can understand? That means, if it’s not English, I don’t follow them.
g) Are they using the service to blatently promote their services or blog? If there’s a bunch of ‘oh, please vote for me, or digg my post’ it’s an instant turn off. 
h) Do they have a profile picture? This is a very minor point, but if there’s no profile picture it’s a slight nudge towards the no-follow group, but not crucial.

I’ve had some weird spam-like follower messages of late as well. Phil’s suggestions are spot on for determining who to add to your network/stream.

State of the Twittersphere

Don’t miss:

You can download the full report in PDF format and click here to tweet about the report.

Here is a glance at some of the more interesting findings.

  • Twitter is dominated by newer users – 70% of Twitter users joined in 2008
  • An estimated 5-10 thousand new accounts are opened per day
  • 35% of Twitter users have 10 or fewer followers
  • 9% of Twitter users follow no one at all
  • There is a strong correlation between the number of followers you have and the number of people you follow

The graphs showing the growth of the most popular micro-blogging tool are a knockout!

Twitter for Internal Communication: A TTW Guest Post by Mick Jacobsen

At the Skokie Public Library Twitter has become a nimble, extremely quick, and easy to use internal communication device.  A small group of Skokie employees use Twitter to bounce ideas off one another, solve simple issues such as “how do I check something out to missing,” and even answer reference questions.

What makes me excited about this use of Twitter?  First it came about totally on its own, nobody planned to use Twitter as a means of communicating.  Second is the mass effect of Twitter.  I can send a question to many and not have to worry about one particular person being away from their phone/email.  The third is the chance of transparency (this is Tame the Web after all).  Anybody who wishes can follow and contribute (like you if you want, and why wouldn’t you, lots of cool ideas are being discussed) to what is going on at the SPL.

I find it hard to believe that the SPL is the only library that has started using Twitter for internal communication.  I would be interested in hearing what others are discussing and how it came about.  I have also recently read about a few companies that are selling internal style Twitter clones and I am curious whether anybody is considering using something of that nature.

Read this awesome story as an example of how Twitter is being used in the private sector

Oddly enough, as I write this, one of Michael’s LIS768 group just finished presenting about Twitter.

Feel free follow some of the Twittering Skokie librarians: (this is me)

Mick Jacobsen is Adult Services Librarian at the Skokie Public Library.