I have begun to really get into Twitter. I have said several times that I am not quite sure how Twitter can be used in medical libraries, however there are some medical libraries out there with a Twitter account using it.
So far, many libraries seem to be using it as a news communication device, either replacing or supplementing their blog. You can easily grab the RSS feed and hook it into your web page to display current library news and events. For example if our library had a Twitter account we would have been able to easily display a tweeted message on our site about an issue we were having with the lights in the library. As it was, we were able to add a message to our web page that our lights were off but all other power (i.e. computers) was working and we were indeed open. So if we were able to put that message on our web page already why would be interested in using Twitter? Well, it might be a little easier than bringing up the page, changing it, and uploading it to web server.
Like every tool each librarian needs to look at Twitter and see whether it is useful for the library or for the professional or personal life. I find it a very useful tool for me to stay connected to other medical and library colleagues. I use it to stay current and to ask questions and discussion issues with others. It has been so useful that it has almost become a sort of light version MEDLIB-L to me.
If you are thinking of using Twitter for in your library you might be interested in 5 Ways to Build a Local Following on Twitter and twitterless.
The first is an article on ways that you can easily build your group of followers. Their examples can be adapted and applied for institutions. They suggest using Twellow to find people in your city or state, which may not be of interest to most medical libraries. But Twellow has a rather robust (for Twitter) search feature allowing you to find people who mention your institution’s name. It can search for an exact phrase, people matching groups of phrases, and it can search within a specific field. Another nice feature is that it can also exclude phrases.
Twitterless is an easy way to keep track of your followers. If you have an institutional Twitter account it would be helpful to know how many people follow and stop following your account. It graphs your follower history over time.
A lot depends on how you or your library intends to use Twitter. How you intend to use Twitter will somewhat drive your decisions on who you follow, whether you protect your updates, your RT and @ behavior (RT= repost someone’s tweet, @=reply to someone’s tweet).
If you are already a Twitterer or if you are just interested in trying it out for your self or your library you might be interested in learning about some of these Twitter tips.
Get a listing of Twittering librarians. Just Tweet It, is a directory where people can add there name and search for others on Twitter who share the same interests. There is a listing of librarians as well as accountants, archaeologists, engineers, mortgage brokers, and even wedding planners. The directory relies on self submission.
Twitter is not for everyone and every institution. It took me a while to decide whether I wanted to stick with it or not. I had to find my Twitter legs so to speak. Not only did I have to decide if I even wanted to Twitter, but I wasn’t sure what my purpose for Twittering would be. Did I want a completely personal (not library related) account where I tweeted about things going on in my personal life including my quest to sell my house (finally sold thank goodness) or did I want a completely library professional account where all I tweeted about was medical and library related things? Eventually my own personal Twitter style (a mix of professional and personal information) emerged and once it did I really found that I began to enjoy using Twitter.