Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Twitter 2

At the beginning of April I blogged about setting up a Twitter account. Well how is it going? There is no doubt that Twitter is addictive. It works at levels 2 and 3 of Maslow's hierarchy of needs - friendship and esteem! It is also a useful professional tool if, like me, you want to keep in touch with a wide range of professional news and thinking. I am currently following 28 organisations. Some of these are professional organisations such as MLA and JISC which occasionally tweet about news and activities. CILIP does not have an official Twitter account but I am following Debbie Raven's Gazette tweets, the West Midlands CILIP Branch, Youth Libraries Group and UKEIG.

I am following several libraries including Sheffield University, the Information Commons at Sheffield University, Leeds Metropolitan University, Manchester Libraries, Leicestershire Libraries and Newcastle Libraries. They provide information about their services for their own users.

Library Web, the rolling news site for UK public libraries, is a useful feed as is the Credo feed which provides a daily quote or factoid plus the occasional news item.
I have now discovered several librarians who tweet. Some of these are a useful source of information such as Tom Roper, Neil Ford and Phil Bradley. Others are more of a personal nature.

My tweets are being followed by 34 individuals and organisations. Many of these are a direct response to my following them. Others are librarians who have discovered me through various sources. As a result of my tweet about Sheffield Libraries' LGBT history source guide I am being followed by Daily Gay which is cool but I suspect they will loose interest as I don't have a lot to say about LGBT issues.

My main concern was to develop links with local libraries and librarians as part of the SINTO community of interest but I have to admit that I don't have many links so far. The University of Sheffield has taken to Twitter with enthusiasm. As well as the library tweets mentioned above, several members of staff including Martin Lewis, head of library services, have accounts. Apart from that there are only a handful of others.

So is Twitter a useful professional tool? It can be criticized in many ways. It is too ephemeral, personal ("What are you doing?") and brief (140 characters) to allow you to say anything serious. Yet these are also its strengths. In many workplaces the casual contacts you make at the water cooler, photocopier or in the lift are often an important source of information and Twitter is a way of expanding this. At its best, the haiku of a tweet is better than the sonnet, or epic poem, of more formal communication channels.

Follow me at http://twitter.com/SINTOcarl


Carl said...

Only connect. From a tweet by a librarian in Holland I discovered this link: 100 tips, tools and resources for librarians on Twitter http://bit.ly/kR3mL
It has a general guide to Twittering and then specific tips for librarians. has a US focus but a good place to start.

Christine Rooney-Browne said...

Hi Carl
Great point about the importance of casual contacts. Twitter has made it possible for me to build professional relationships and communicate with librarians on a global scale...and in real time! That's something I would probably never been able to do in the real world, or even via e-mail.

It's like when you go to a conference and you realise that there's often more to be gained from chatting to people in the halls or in the queue for the bathroom, than attending the sessions. Casual conversations, where we disclose a little bit more about ourselves than the official party line are really quite priceless. And that's what I love about Twitter! :)