Professional discourse can and does happen on Twitter. In fact, I find Twitter as important as email for work communication. I know, I can practically see your eyeballs rolling and the murmurs through the Internet as I type this. But it is true.
Years ago, I remember saying that I couldn’t think of a reason to be on Twitter. I didn’t say there wasn’t one, but at the time I just didn’t see any. Today it is a totally different story. I probably discuss librarian issues and ideas more often over Twitter than I do on Medlib-l. Yep you are reading that correctly.
In fact the 140 character limit doesn’t inhibit me at all. I am able to ask quick questions and have them answered fairly quickly. What kind of questions do I ask? Some of the same things I might ask on Medlib-l like:
- Is PubMed down?
- How do I bold a line in LibGuides?
- What other MeSh term can you think of to represent X?
I also make little comments about things I am encountering while I am at work or doing librarian stuff. Some of these things are just my comments while others are passing along helpful or interesting websites. Some recent examples are:
As you can see all of that stuff is related to librarianship. Doesn’t Twitter get all cluttered with junk about people’s cats, lunch, etc.? Yes and no. In fact, I do a little bit of off topic chatting…
I am not a robot, some of my life and personality filters through on Twitter just like it does on email. The key to Twitter is the you people follow. Follow other librarians (medical and non-medical), doctors, patient advocates, technology gurus, etc. Find the people who mainly tweet about professional items and your Twitter feed will mainly be about professional information that you can use. Yes there will be some personal bon mots that fly through, but that is life.
I have also found it HUGELY helpful to follow my vendors. Yep, I follow @SpringShare, @WKHealthOvid, @EBSCOInfoSvcs, @NEJMTeam, @ClinicalKey, @MDConsult, @MHMedical, etc. Not only do I find out about new things like I did the other day with Ovid…
But I have gotten pretty darn good tech support and responses from problems and complaints. Honestly I have gotten faster responses than I have ever gotten when I post on Medlib-l. @SpringShare has been very helpful and responded quickly whenever I mentioned I have a problem. @EBSCOInfoSvcs responded quickly when I was asking people about an A-Z quirk. @ClinicalKey responded very quickly when I brought up an issue regarding personal logins for PDFs.
Twitter isn’t for everyone but it isn’t just the realm of Charlie Sheen rants and lunch updates. It is a valid method of professional communication. The key is how you use it and how you integrate it in your workflow. Next week I will share how I have integrated it into my work flow so that it takes no more time out of my day than regular email. In the mean time, don’t forget about the #medlibs Thursday chats at 9pm est. which is a perfect example of professional Twitter communication. You are free to lurk and see what is going on. Any questions about Twitter #medlibs chat feel free to contact me.