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 Mashable.com 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.