Tag Archives: twitter

Expanding The Conversation (by TTW contributor Justin Hoenke)

Have you ever found yourself inside the library echo chamber? I think we all have.  You’ve got something great to share or say about libraries and you put it out there…and it’s only talked about by librarians and libraries.  Some great presentations and pieces have been written about the echo chamber (some of my  faves are from Ned Potter, Sally Pewhairangi, and Steven V. Kaszynski).    These have got me thinking…how can we avoid the echo chamber?  My thought is this…expand the conversation and try, try, try your best to include those outside of the library world.  But how can we do this?  Here’s one way that I’ve found to be quite effective over the past few weeks.

I’ve fallen in love with a new service called Branch.  What is Branch?  It’s a new site that allows you to take ideas, tweets, and more and expand on them with anyone.  Wanna talk beyond the 140 characters of Twitter or not get involved in a messy comment thread?  Take it to Branch and have a conversation.

That’s exactly what I did when I started reading a series of posts on Read Write Web by Richard Macmanus titled Social Books.  I saw that the posts had an audience.  The article that caught my eye was this piece on GoodReads.  Specifically, I noticed that 183 people have shared/liked it on Facebook and a whopping 583 shares on Twitter. I also noticed a lack of librarians in on the conversation.  I wanted to see if I could expand the conversation and  get some library perspective into the mix.  So I took it to Branch:

As of the time of the writing of this post, the Branch conversation has led to some cool things that have expanded the conversation. Richard Macmanus, the author of the Social Book series Read Write Web joined the discussion on Branch and shortly thereafter wrote a post entitled The Social Library: How Public Libraries are Using Social Media which explores such topics as libraries using social media to connect with community, social catalog enhancements from LibraryThing, Candide 2.0.  I know that numbers are not everything, but there’s been a lot of sharing of the piece going on.  Look at the sharing stats below:

 What strikes me most are the number Facebook and Twitter shares.  To me, that’s a lot of people who have checked out the article…and then shared it.  Who knows how many people have actually read the article, but it’s likely that there’s even more.

And this is where I get most excited about this piece: think about how there are people out there today who are not involved in libraries reading about libraries, what libraries do, and how libraries improve community.  That’s the cool part about expanding the conversation.


Good Twitter practice for libraries

I got these two direct messages via Twitter recently from two libraries who were acknowledging that I started following them.  They followed me back and then sent these messages.

To me, these simple DM’s really warmed my heart and reinforced the idea that customer service is one of the most important things that we can focus on in libraries today.  It also acts as a great way to open up the conversation with our patrons.

This is something I highly recommend that libraries practice when using Twitter.  It really can make our patrons feel welcome.

-Post by Justin Hoenke,Tame the Web Contributor

Buy India a Library

From the minds of Jan Holmquist (representing Denmark), Andromeda Yelton (representing the USA), and Ned Potter (representing the UK)…

Click here to go to the Buy India a Library blog!

…comes Buy India a Library, a project started by librarians to fund a library in India via Twitter.  Head on over to their blog for more information on the project and learn about how you can help them accomplish their awesome goal!

What an awesome project and a wonderful team.  I’ve been lucky to meet in person with Andromeda a few times and have many great discussions with Jan and Ned online.  Kudos to them for making it happen!

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

The Transparent Library Director

I’m not a library director.  Heck, who knows if I’ll ever be a library director.  But spend some time working in a public library and you’ll see a common theme: most employees and the public have no clue what a library director does.  There’s this belief that the library director is some person way high up in the sky making all these decisions and pulling all these strings to make the library work. With such little information known about the day to day happenings of a library director, employees and patrons end up getting confused about the direction of the library.  In turn, that can sometimes lean towards anger, poor morale, and communication breakdown.  The victims here?  It’s always the patrons.  When the library staff doesn’t know what the hell is going on, the patron’s suffer.  They lose out on valuable materials, services, and more.

Social media allows us to be more transparent than ever.  We can check in at every place we visit, we can tweet quotes from conversations we’re having, we can share pictures at the tap of our screen.  Blogging/Video blogging makes it super easy and quick just to share your thoughts/actions for the day.  To some folks, this transparency is scary.  Most everything you say or do can be found on the web.  Here’s where I burst your fun bubble.  THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU.  I’m just as guilty of this as you are, so I’m not pointing fingers.  We have to remember that when we’re working in a public library that we are public employees.  Our salaries and benefits are graciously paid for by public taxes paid by the people we serve.  Living in the era of the Tea Party and slashed library budgets, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our country is pretty darn upset about taxes and will do anything to get rid of what they consider unnecessary spending.

USTREAM
Have a UStream feed running in your office all day as well as during meetings.  What have you got to hide in these day to day meetings?  If you’re talking about people behind their back, you probably shouldn’t be doing that anyway.

Opening up your office and your meetings to the public will give your community the primary resource they will need to understand your direction and vision.  Instead of hearing half true rumours from other employees and around your town you’ll be giving the information to the public as it was meant to be heard.

*Yes, I understand that some meetings are meant to be private.  These meetings should totally stay that way.

FOURSQUARE/FACEBOOK PLACES/GOWALLA/ETC
Check into every place you’re visiting in the community.  Give us a little info about why you’re there.

I don’t have a solid example for this recommendation, so instead I’ll point you to my Foursquare account (http://foursquare.com/justinlibrarian).  Just imagine that all those restaurants I checked into are different meetings and locations I’m out scouting for possible collaborations.

TWITTER
In my own opinion, this is the perfect tool for the director who is on the go to use.  Tweet quotes from meetings you’re attending.  Give your followers a brief 140 character synopsis about what’s going on.

Don’t think you have enough time to tweet?  That’s a lame and outdated excuse that everyone uses.  Look at Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker’s Twitter stream for inspiration.  He’s running a whole city and he can still tweet! http://twitter.com/corybooker

VIDEOBLOGGING
Fire up your webcam (chances are that your laptop already has one.  If not, get this one) and start talking.  If you’re a director, you should be well spoken and ready for the cameras.  A quick 1-3 minute videoblog about your day that can then be uploaded to your library YouTube account will give your staff and patrons always valuable face time.

I couldn’t find any specific library directors already doing this (although I clearly remember seeing one out there a few years ago) so instead I turn your attention to teen author John Green and his brother Hank.  They run the Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube where they just talk about…stuff!  It keeps them connected to their rabid fan fan base and provides quick and easy updates to keep them relevant and interesting.

LIFESTREAM
Jenny Levin’s blog is a beautiful example of how a lifestream can be used to keep people up to date with what you’re tweeting/blogging/sharing.  It’s easy to set up and use once you get the ball rolling and it will provide your community with more than enough information about what you’re doing while you work.

http://theshiftedlibrarian.com/archives/2009/08/17/experimenting-with-my-stream.html

There shouldn’t be this communication breakdown in libraries anymore.  Starting at the top and leading by example, directors who embrace social media can show their staff and the public they serve just what they’re doing to keep their libraries relevant.

For further reading, I highly suggest you check out these awesome articles by Michael Casey & Michael Stephens:

-Post by Justin Hoenke, Tame the Web Contributor

Using Social Media to Connect with Teens

It’s easy for any library to have a social media presence these days.  Translating that into success with serving a teen population?  Well, that’s another thing…

Be Yourself

The discussion of personal and professional profiles always comes up.  I didn’t want to have two profiles (done it before, hated it) so I had to make a decision: add teens to my own accounts or hide myself far, far away.  I went with what some may consider to be the unpopular route.  I added them to my own accounts.  I feel like it has made a world of difference.

I am happy to share the real Justin with the teens that I serve.  I have nothing bad to hide and all good to share.  Letting them in on my “personal” life has actually allowed me to establish a deeper connection with them.  For example, when one teen found that him and I shared an interest in The Mars Volta, he came running in the library one day in disbelief.  He was excited that I was into the same music as him.  He now comes in a few times each week and we spend a good fifteen minutes or so talking about music.

This is just one of countless examples of how opening up my personal social networking accounts to teens has made it easier for me to connect with them and provide them with quality service.  In the end, it makes you more of a real person to them.  They become your friend and they trust you.  The upside to this?  They’re using the library…and they love it.

Stay Active

There’s nothing that looks sadder than an abandoned profile.  If you’re going to have a public account, make sure you update it with the most relevant information.  Don’t just create the profile and let it fester and rot away.  An up to date profile will show your public that you care about connecting with them.  One of the golden rules I try to always stick to is replying to comments or posts.  Even if it is a simple hello or a comment on a link, say something back!  Conversation and interaction is one of the reasons why we’re all using social media.

Educate Them

Myspace is dead.  It lost its appeal when showing off how (badly) one could customize their page with videos, gifs, and pictures won out over connecting and sharing with others.  We can learn something from this.

Media 21 is a project created by Buffy Hamilton, a school librarian at Creekview High School in Canton, GA.  The goal of the Media 21 Project is to “expand teens’ information literacy skills by introducing them tools for constructing a personal learning network and to posit research as a real world activity for learning, not an isolated unit of study.”

The idea behind Media 21 blows my mind.  Taking a moment or two each day to educate the teens using my library about social media allows me to better serve them as a librarian.  They understand that social media is a real and credible way to interact, share and create.  It helps me be the best librarian I can be for them.  I know what they want, and they know I’m always here to listen.

Buffy further adds: “I wanted to them to learn how to use social media tools for constructing and sharing knowledge as well as to start thinking about ways social media can be an authoritative source of knowledge”

Right on, sister.

You can read more about the Media 21 project here

Many thanks to School Librarian extraordinaire Buffy Hamilton for her quotes and guidance.

Give Stuff Away

I love what they’re doing over at the Darien Library with FourSquare.  As a matter a fact, it got me thinking.  With the tips  feature, we’re able to create our own little mini scavenger hunts for teens.  I learned just how excited teens get whyen it comes to scavenger hunts when I hosted an all night teen lock in at my library last year.  The scavenger hunt was one of the biggest events of the night.  By offering daily scavenger hunts with rewards, teens will have more reason to come into the library, check in, and complete the daily tip.  You’ve got them inside the library and they’re actively participating in a library program.  Win!

(On a related note, I highly suggest checking out this excellent post by David Lee King.  “Personal Accounts, Work Accounts – What To Do?”)

-Justin Hoenke, Tame The Web Contributor

Twitter: Love it or Hate It?

I have a new post up at ALA TechSource:

http://www.alatechsource.org/blog/2008/07/the-ala-annual-tweet-report.html

And, I must confess: I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the ALA Annual 2008 Twitterverse that sprang up for those few days in late June. It fascinated me to see the power of such a simple and, yes, overburdened, tool. Micro-blogging has found a place amongst LIS workers and even through outages and downtime, the tweets from ALA marched on. “I credit Twitter for helping make this my best ALA yet. More connected. Too many people to see, places to be, but I read tweets,” responded Brenda Hough to my tweeted requests for “interviews” for this post. The call via Twitter and at TTW prompted many useful, hilarious and telling responses. Others helped out via comments at TTW and in personal email.

Looking at the tweets and responses, patterns emerge of how the tool was used and how people responded to it.  The functions of Twitter at a conference such as ALA include:

  • Reporting On Sessions
  • Meeting Up & Making Plans
  • Commentary & Transparency
  • Finding New Ideas
  • Simply Fun Observations & Connections
I concluded with:  I will certainly advocate for more reporting, more wry observation, playing nice and much more fun for sure.

Read the whole post for an examination of each of those functions. But, also give some attention to some other functions of Twitter: too much noise and the potential to do harm – that’s the “playing nice” part. I think for TechSource I took the happy road, because I was very “up” on how folks were using the tool at ALA. Maybe I should have included a bit about what a colleague calls “the dark side.” I would hate to see people get hurt because of snarky tweets during conference presentations or in general. I always remember something Jessamyn West blogged: Use your powers for good. I hope we use our Twitter powers for good.

Will Richardson read my mind:

Whether it’s some people getting a little snippy from time to time and then other people making a way-too-huge-a-deal about it, or whether it’s two very smart people like Gary and Sheryl blowing out a Tweet-a-minute micro debate about the state of education in this country, or whether it’s people trying to live Tweet hour-long presentations that turn into like 347 updates, I’m finding anything that hints of substance just too scattered, too disjointed to read, even with the wonders ofTweetdeck. It’s like trying to eavesdrop on the conversation of a bunch of people with really bad cell phone reception, hearing a part of one response ’til it cuts out into the other. Frustrating.

And I can’t help feeling like it’s just making all of us, myself included, lazy. We’ve lamented this before, this “fact” that the whole community is blogging less since Twitter, engaging less deeply, it seems. Reading less. Maybe it’s just me (again) or maybe it’s my long term attachment to this blogging thing and my not so major attachment to texting, but it feels like the “conversation” is evolving (or would that be devlolving) into pieces instead of wholes, that the connections and the threads are unraveling, almost literally. That while, on some level, the Twitterverse feels even more connected, in reality it’s breaking some of the connectedness.

Read his whole post here: http://weblogg-ed.com/2008/what-i-hate-about-twitter/

As a response to Will, I think a few things are happening. Lots of folks are using Twitter and talking about how they are using it (guilty here). It’s the tool du jour (or maybe FriendFeed is?). But I also see that many of us have slowed down blogging. Could be summer. Could be other newer tools. it could also be that there are hundreds if not thousands of biblioblogs out there, making the conversation broad and deep but also HUGE to try to follow.

What do you think?

Ellyssa Krsoki on Twitter in SLJ

http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6573999.html

“Twitter is just one of the Web 2.0 technologies that we are using to engage students within our traditional Web page (www.pasadena.edu/library),” says Mary Ann Laun, assistant dean of library services at Shatford. “We highlight events, interesting stats, and curious facts in an effort to call attention to some of the great things happening in the library. From announcements such as ‘the system is down, ask for help at the Reference desk’ to special events, we have fun conveying quick messages to students.”

Twitter can also help promote a blog, whether you’re an individual or an organization—like YALSA. The Young Adult Library Services Association (a division of the American Library Association) uses a service called Twitterfeed to automatically generate tweets from its blog posts (twitter.com/yalsa). The result: instant content for YALSA’s Twitter profile—no extra work required—and extended marketing of the YALSA blog.

Missouri River (www.mrrl.org) is another Twitterfeed user. In addition to its blog posts, the library uses the service to import its Flickr photostream. The alternative would have been costly, according to Robin Hastings, Missouri River’s information technology manager.

“We find that [Twitterfeed] has saved us from having to create the infrastructure for a dedicated alert service that will get announcements out to patrons in the format they want—text, IM, or email—or pay someone else to do the announcing for us,” says Hastings. “[Twitter] is a new channel of communication to our patrons that is easy to use and free.”

Don’t miss the whole article!