Just in case you want to read or interact with library vendors in a different way, Bill Drew has created a list of library vendors who use Twitter. Granted this doesn’t mean they’re necessarily accessible in that way, but for people already on Twitter it’s good to know. This is part of the larger spreadsheet that Bill is creating about library vendors who use social software.
Also, someone asked me to mention why someone who wasn’t using Twitter might want to. It’s certainly gotten the attention of some of the major media, but what’s in it for an individual librarian or library? When I talk about Twitter, I stress a few things
– It’s a box you can type into that puts data on the web in a standard form. This means you can repurpose the content, pull it into a sidebar on your website and/or publish or read your feed or someone else’s in a format you choose (I use a client called NatsuLion that rolls up the side of my screen. Many people at CiL were using TweetDeck)
– Being able to have a friends list means you can keep up with what other people you choose to read about are up to. I work at home alone most days and I like the collegial feel of knowing what other librarians are up to. When I travel, I just stop reading it unless I’m at someplace where many people are using it.
– At CiL it was helpful to know where people were at, you can “broadcast” to a friends list “hey, this session is full” or “We’re at this session and it’s great!” which can give you realtime updates about an event as it’s happening. I enjoyed reading people talking about my talk while it was happening (after my talk, before my co-panelist), in little chunks not the constant stream that comes from something like a Meebo chatroom.
– It’s really replacing blogs as the place to read breaking type news that happens in places where Twitter-enabled people are. This is a big caveat though. People have always said “news happens where the reporters are” When there were wildfires in San Diego, Twitter was very useful for people. When there’s a natural disaster here in Orange County Vermont, not so much.
Twitter, more than other social software, seems to me to be a case in which evaluation of your community is a good first step. Have people in your universe who use it, especially other media or established folks? Might be neat to either use their feed, start your own or just use the search feature for keeping current on what’s going on in your area. I don’t think it’s a situation where people will be asking the library “Are you on Twitter? Why Not?” at least not in the near future.
update: just checking my feeds and I note that Brian has an example of how twitter solved a problem for his library and Jenny offers some organizational advice.
NPR’s blog As a Matter of Fact should help you figure that out, and learn some neat stuff besides. Though really, using the OED to answer a question about Twitter? [via]
1. I saw the Providence Public Library’s Twitter feed today and I like it. A mix of library information and links to their very amusing tech blog. I like it.
2. I just noticed Phil Bradley’s list reprinted over at Tame the Web. I’m in a weird position on Twitter because I’m followed by librarians, MetaFilter members and at least a good handful of real life friends and family. I follow maybe a ninth of the number of people who follow me. My feed is open so anyone can read it, but I can only follow so many people (and I do stay up to date on my Twitter feed pretty much always so this is important to me). Here is my version of Phil’s guidelines and there’s a sort of flow chart in effect here.
a) Do they Tweet in English (or possibly Romanian but I’ve never seen this happening yet)? If yes, go to b.
b) Are they spammers or hypesters (following over 5000 people? pushing a product?)? If not go to c.
c) Do they update more than ten times a day? If so, they’re too high traffic for me. If not, go to d.
d) Is their Twitterstream just an automated version of their RSS feed? If yes, subscribe. If no, go to e.
e) Do they @reply to people as the bulk portion of their tweets? If so, they’re likely not interesting to me (for me Twitter is like a news ticker, not a conversation). If not, go to f, g and h and choose one. If none of these apply, then don’t follow.
f) Do I know them or know why they’re following me?
g) Do I find them amusing, astute, informative or otherwise intriguing?
h) Do I want to direct message with them and find that I can’t because I’m not following them
In short, my sister’s Twitter feed is one of my favorites, followed sharply by a few bloggers I barely know and a few random librarians who amuse the heck out of me. Then there are 200 other people and all told I probably scan through 600-1000 tweets per day. This helps me feel less like I’m up here in the fortress of solitude when I’m in rural Vermont and helps me stay in touch with a lot of plugged in people in the profession. I send all of my Twitter-related “soandso added you as a contact” email to a special folder and scan through it weekly. If I’m not following you and you think maybe I might like to, please feel free to drop me a note and/or a comment. I’m not suggesting this approach for anyone else, but it works well for me.
I am always at a loss when I do things called “workshops” and people don’t have computers. Replicating the 2.0 world [or heck even the 1.0 world] using pens and flip charts seems a little silly, but I’m generally a tough one to please when dealing with participatory talks/events. I don’t mind interacting, but I like to think it will be worth my while and not embarass me. I like Andrea’s Blog Her “speed dating” idea. Gets everyone moving, a little, doesn’t embarass them, makes them think.
If it were my workshop I think I’d have everyone be in two lines and person #1 would say “I work at [$NAME_OF_LIBRARY]” person #2 would say “I know [$THING_I_KNOW] about [$NAME_OF_LIBRARY]” and then they’d move on, 60 seconds, bang. Point being, I think we sometimes have a hard time understanding what our institutions look like to people from outside them and from the outside it can be tough to know what things look like on the inside. I was showing off some Kansas libraries using Twitter this week and naming one library sent a few people in the audience into giggles. I had no idea why. They explained later that it was because of some recent drama concerning the library and the local consortia that I would have had no way of knowing about. Knowing about it was actually a neat thing, more stories, more data.
If anyone’s been in a workshop with an activity — offline if possible though online is fine — that you’ve really liked, please feel free to share in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas.
I’ve got one more privacy related post, but this is just a few things I’ve seen, noticed and liked. My goal for the summer was to catch up and stay caught up on RSS feeds, either through thinning my list, developing better habits or deciding to only follow friends and family, or only work people. I did a little of all of those and have been caught up for weeks now, even through ALA.