Twitter is a free social networking and communication tool that lets you send short messages of up to 140 characters to your group of friends via the Twitter website, SMS, other Twitter clients, email, or IM. An increasing number of libraries and librarians are now using Twitter to engage readers, spread information, and banish the conception of dark, silent buildings staffed by stuffy introverts. So if you want to see how Twitter can be a dynamic way to connect with patrons, students and other library professionals, then the list below should definitely get you started. Here are 100 tips that can help you effectively use Twitter in your libraries.
With many online tools, the reference sections of many libraries have been overlooked. These tips can help make connections with patrons which can lead to a more visited reference section.
1. Read the latest news: Many major news sites, like MSNBC have Twitter feeds. This makes it easy to quickly check up on news and find the latest information.
2. Identify experts in a specific area: Find out who’s talking about subjects that interest you or your patrons. You can’t get the same affect by using traditional email and resources.
3. Find out what other schools and libraries are doing around the world: Get ideas on how other libraries all over the globe are using Twitter effectively in their library.
4. Share a tip on finding or accessing information online or in the building: Spread the knowledge of your learning with others. If you’ve found a website that has specific resources or data, send a tweet and let everyone know.
5. Posts can link to interesting news stories about literacy or about libraries. When appropriate, the posts can link to a library’s own website and blog for more in-depth information.
6. Use Twitter as an assessment tool: For example, subscribe to a handful of patrons or students, in return they should follow you also. By tweeting, you can learn about such things as what services are being used the most in the library.
7. Find contacts working on similar projects. Stumped about a presentation or project you are working on? Twitter is a great way to find others that have had a similar problem and get a swift response.
8. Patrons can ask questions about specific materials. Let your patrons know if you have a certain book or article they are looking for or let them know where they can find it. This also will keep up the community feeling that your library is looking for.
9. Search Twitter for references to the ALA (American Library Association): If it’s something there you can respond to then go ahead. If it’s not something in your area, then pass along the information.
Use these tips to create communication as well as a feeling of community at your library.
10. Try having a question and answer session: If you need information of any kind a quick question to followers will get you and answer in minutes. It is also an easy way to provide assistance to patrons.
11. Get feedback on potential policy changes: Thinking about extending library hours? Get some opinions from some of your patrons. This is great for college library students too.
12. Don’t let the account go silent for extended periods: This will show that you have mutual interest in providing a connection for many of your followers.
13. Find Trends: What are people talking about right now? Now and again a discussion does come up that you might want to know more about in detail.
14. Don’t simply post information without also replying to people who send you messages in the system: Although conversational Twittering has not yet been mainstream amongst the libraries, it is common for other institutions on the service to interact with followers.
15. Be sure to use the current twitter terminology: Remember the verb form is “to tweet,” not “to twitter.” If you use the wrong terms, you might as well put a sign on your website that says ROOKIE!
16. Search Twitter daily for mention of the library: Using both Twitter Search and the Find People function on the main Twitter site, which actually will find institutions as well as individuals.
17. Try not to overwhelm people with too many posts: While you do want to post daily, too many tweets can be too much for patrons or students. Especially when they are trying to get work done.
18. Don’t ignore the conversations that are happening about your library or your community: Stay engaged with followers. This will let you know what people are saying about your library.
Announcements & Updates
Highlight new materials, group meetings, current news, and more with some of these suggestions.
19. Get information on conferences: Some conferences of interest to librarians have Twitter feeds that will allow you to keep up with registration deadlines, speakers and accommodations without having to visit the site itself.
20. Keep up to date with internal developments: Stay on top of department meetings and events. You will always know what’s going on.
21. Update patrons on new materials: Have you received some great new resources? Let those in your area know about them through a Twitter feed.
22. Stay informed of the most current technologies: Keep yourself updated on new tools and applications that can productively be used in the library.
23. Get the word out about library programs: Starting a new program or having a book sale? Let the public and students know about it through your Twitter feed. It’s an easy way to get information out about any library.
24. Send alerts about requested materials: Patrons can choose to get notices that their materials have arrived at the library via Twitter rather than phone or mail. Some people might prefer this to the traditional message.
25. Create alerts for specific groups: Announce news and events for specific groups like children, book clubs, and teens
26. Use Twitter to point out highlights on library websites: Point out specific topics of interest on your website. Everything from special links to holiday hours.
27. Short messages can tell people about events such as readings and lectures: Typing a brief message about a special reading or lecture can help get the word out. You can even send updates the day of to let people know how many are attending.
28. Send computer alerts: Whether someone’s allotted time on the computer is about to end or if several computers have suddenly become available, let users know
Here are some interesting feeds that can help you find out how other libraries might be using Twitter.
29. @librarycongress: The Library of Congress is one of the largest libraries in the world, keep up with everything from their special collections to latest events.
30. @yalsa: The Young Adult Library Services Association keeps this feel to help keep you informed about issues pertaining to young adult reading and literature.
31. @glambert: Greg Lambert is a law librarian in Houston. This law librarian discusses knowledge management, social media, and more.
32. @pfanderson: This is from a new technologies librarian interested in informatics, search engines, Web 2.0 and more.
33. @SAGElibrarynews: Get a view on publishing in academic, educational, and professional markets.
34. @Librarian: This feed will give you a look at libraries in a totally unique way.
35. @sljournal: The School Library Journal will tell you about news and book reviews for children’s and young adult reading material.
36. @mstephens7: Michael Stephens is an educator, librarian, and blogger that encourages his followers to never stop learning or dreaming
37. @heyjudeonline: Check out Judy O’Connell to learn about library and information services.
38. @LibraryJournal: @LibraryJournal offers library news, book reviews, and more.
39. @LJBookReview: From @LJBookReview, you’ll find book news and book reviews from Library Journal.
40. @kenleyneufield: You can learn about the social web from this community college librarian.
41. @geeklibrarian: This Librarian is a geek helping public librarians venture into the world of Web 2.0.
42. @alalibraryval: Valerie Hawkins is the Library Reference Specialist at the American Library Association.
43. @TheLibraryCat: Learn more about academic libraries, photography and searching through archives
44.@AtYourLibrary: At Your Library is the ALA’s public awareness campaign to promote the value of libraries.
45.@ala_rusa: @alarusa represents the Reference and User Services Association of the American Library Association.
46.@GlobalLib: Shares global and international library information for librarians around the world.
47.@Internet_Archive: The Internet Archive is an Internet library with permanent access to historical collections in digital format.
48.@AccessMyLibrary: Advocates for increasing discoverability of library content on the web.
Colleagues, Students, and Friends
Stay connected with other librarian, friends, and students with the tips below.
49. Learn more about colleagues: See if fellow colleagues have a Twitter feed and read more about their life. Who knows, maybe you have more in common than you think.
50. Link to interesting news stories: Get some inspirational ideas from reading interesting stories about literacy and other libraries.
51. Promote the library: Using Twitter can help promote your library and the programs offered. Tweet your friends and family about what’s happening.
52. Decide whether to include an employee’s name on the account: library users want to know who’s behind the Twitter account. The bio field has 160 characters available, and libraries should take advantage of the opportunity to explain their mission and highlight people.
53. Chronicle extended library visits: This has been being used by a number of university libraries. A student might arrive at the library at 4 p.m. and might not leave until 10 a.m. the next day. He sends updates to his readers periodically on the progress of his assignment.
54. Keep in touch with librarian friends: Find out what other schools and libraries are doing around the world. Twitter makes it easier to keep up with what others are up to and to share and collaborate on projects.
Library Twitter Tools that Could be Useful
Here are some tools that can be useful if you are going to try some of the above tips.
55. TweetDeck: This application will let you create groups of Tweets to better manage your information systems.
56. Twrivia: Provide a new trivia question each day for your patrons with this tool.
57. GroupTweet: Create groups to facilitate Tweeting. This is a great tool for specialty groups such as young adults, book clubs, or library employees.
58. Atlas: Explore the world with Tweets that are shown on a map. You can also search nearby places in that geographic area.
59. bit.ly: With only 140 characters to use, this service shortens URLs so that you use fewer characters when sharing web links.
60.Outwit Me: This site offers challenging games and is a great way to introduce Twitter into the library for the younger crowd.
61. tweetparty: This tool creates Twitter groups and allows you to communicate directly with them.
62. TweetScan: Use this as a Twitter research shortcut. Type in keywords and have Tweets that match your keywords emailed to you.
63. TweetGrid: Make Twitter searches much easier. This application allows you to create a customized search dashboard.
64. Tweetree: This tool puts your Tweets in context so when an entire conversation starts, everything is grouped together. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of whose talking.
65. TwitterFone: Call and leave a voice message that with this tool. It will later be turned into a tweet.
66. Tweet Later: Write Tweets that you can schedule to posting at later dates. This is a great way to line up reminders that are tied to specific dates.
67. weather: Get weather news and weather events occurring around the world from the Science News Blog.
68. Tweetizen: Find specific groups on Twitter that share your same interests or start up your own group.
69. Password protected text notes: If privacy is an issue, you can use this tool to send notes to Twitter that only those with the password can read.
70. TweetScan: Type in keywords and have Tweets that match your keywords emailed to you. Use this as a Twitter research shortcut.
71. Twishlistter: You can let patrons know what your library might be needing by creating a Twitter wish list.
72. QuoteURL: Put many different Tweets together on one page with this application. Libraries with several different Twitter groups should find this tool very helpful.
73. Plinky: Every day this application provides a prompt in the form of a challenge or question, then you can reply by text, maps, photos or whatever you can use to answer.
74. twiggit: This tool combines Digg with Twitter and lets you find reference answers, news articles, and more.
75. TwitPic: Let others see your photos with this application. Share them with fellow employees, patrons, and colleagues.
Vendors Using Twitter
More and more library vendors are joining Twitter. Many librarians are now able to interact with their vendors in a different way. Whether for asking a question regarding an order or finding out about other services offered you weren’t even aware of. Here is a list of some of the major vendors we have found that have hopped on board the Twitter wagon.
76. Academic Earth: A collaboration of video lectures from the world’s top scholars. They also provide full video courses from leading universities.
77. Duke Press: The Press publishes primarily in the humanities and social sciences and issues a few publications for professionals such as doctors and lawyers.
78. Credo Reference: A leading provider of reference services for libraries and information centers.
79. Flashlight Worthy Books: A fun website dedicated completely to book lists. Books are grouped by all sorts of categories
80. Better World Books: Fund literacy, care for the environment, and get a fair price on the books you want.
81. High Wire Press: A division of the Stanford University Libraries, which produces the online versions of high-impact, peer-reviewed journals and other scholarly content.
82. Library Thing: Catalog your books from Amazon, the Library of Congress and 690 other world libraries. Import from anywhere.
83. EBSCO Publishing: A search platform for full-text online research databases used by libraries all over the world.
84. McGraw-Hill: An Information and Media group that provide industry leading intelligence analytical solutions that enable libraries to make better decisions.
85. Refworks: A Bibliographic management online program that allows users to create a personal database of references and generate bibliographies in a variety of formats.
86. Safari Books: Provides access to thousands of technology, creative and business books, and training videos through an on-demand, digital library.
87. Library Juice Press: Sponsored by Litwin Books, LLC, this vendor specializes in theoretical and practical issues in librarianship from a critical perspective.
88. Thomson Reuters: Get solutions for your library focusing on productivity. Overviews of sectors in media and science are provided.
89. School Library Journal: The largest review source for books, multimedia and technology for children and teens. They also provide the hottest technology news.
90. W.S. Hein: This vendor has been serving the library community for over 80 years as a legal publisher, reprinter, and subscription agent.
91. Science Direct: A source of facts for scientific, technical, and medical research. A subscription is required for some sections.
92. Lippincott: International publishers of professional health information for physicians, nurses, specialized clinicians & students. They provide charts and journals for nurses and medical purposes.
93. Taylor & Francis: One of the leading academic publisher for the past two decades. They publish over a thousand journals and book each year.
94. Wolters Kluwer: Using the latest technologies, quality information, and cutting-edge tools, this company will give you solutions and help libraries make effective decisions.
95. Portland Press Ltd: A major provider of high quality publishing for the spreading of knowledge throughout the librarian community.
96. JSTOR: This vendor works with the scholarly community to preserve the materials they rely upon, and build a common research platform that promotes the discovery and use of these resources.
97. CRC Press: Publishers of technical and scientific work, reaching around the globe to make the latest references and advances available to researchers, academic professionals, and students.
98. AveryIndex: Offers a comprehensive listing of journal articles published worldwide on architecture and design, and archaeology.
99. Westlaw: An online legal research service for legal and law related resources. This includes searches of both United States and international legal materials.
100. Lexis-Nexis Academics: Make your information sources manageable with this vendor. They provide research and reference answers to libraries worldwide.
Libraries have only begun to find the true potential in Twittering. We hope that by using some of these tips, librarians and libraries everywhere will find creative ways to broaden the serviceability for themselves and their patrons.