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Six Things Libraries Should Tweet

This is a post in response to David Lee King’s post on How Not to Tweet. He correctly pointed out some things you shouldn’t do. He also said you should think about the big picture like “What do you want to get out of it?” But people often wonder, what sort of things should our library tweet about? Here’s a list:

  • Library events – Let people know what’s going on. Having a movie night in the library? Let people know. Having a chili cookoff? Get the word out!
  • Links to articles, videos, etc. – If you come across web content that would be relevant or helpful to your patrons, tweet it. You can even tweet things marginally related if you think your patrons would respond favorably. Twitter is great for sending links. And don’t forget to use a link shortener like bit.ly or tinyurl.
  • Solicit feedback – Twitter is made for conversations, so feel free to ask questions of your followers. Ask things that you actually want to know about and that you are prepared to act upon though. Don’t ask, “should the library stay open until midnight?” unless you’re prepared to do something with their responses.
  • New additions to your collection - Got some new books? Added a database recently? Tweet it up! People might not know about your additions unless you tell them. Twitter can be helpful for informing patrons about new resources.
  • Marketing - get the word out about how great your library is! Libraries and librarians do some pretty awesome stuff, but people don’t always see it. Let people know you just created a new tutorial or that you had over 150,000 visits last year. Don’t worry about tooting your own horn a little bit, just not all the time.
  • Answer questions - in the example below I noticed someone was working on a paper and simply sent them a link, you’d be surprised how powerful that can be.

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Don’t forget to be human and be social. Being human means not only sending out the same links to events or new books over and over, but sending out fun things like librarians dancing to Thriller. Don’t be an automaton. And being social means having conversations with patrons. Answer @replies, ask questions, socialize. Don’t simply broadcast like you have a megaphone. It is social networking after all.

This list is by no means comprehensive, just some ideas to get people thinking. Please leave any other ideas you have in the comments.

4

Old media vs. new media

photo by a.drian on flickr

photo by a.drian on flickr

I was just thinking how much I enjoy letter writing. I stay in touch with a couple friends from college in this way and it is probably one of my favorite forms of communication.

I hate talking on the phone and don’t often feel comfortable doing it. I need to use my facial expressions when I’m talking. I also despise email, because most of it is so worthless (though I do get a feeling of accomplishment when I send off a really well crafted email). Texting and especially communicating via Facebook or Twitter are much more my style. Perhaps because it feels more genuine.

But letter writing is still my favorite. It takes a lot longer than any other form of communication, but longer can be better. It forces you to think about your life and what has been going on in it. It forces you to think about your friend and their life and how they’ll respond to your letter. It is by far the most contemplative medium of communication, and that, I think, is why I enjoy it so much.

I am constantly sending off emails or tweeting, but when I get the chance to actually sit down and create a story of my life, my thoughts, and my interests in relation to a friend, it’s much more personal than updating my Facebook profile. Receiving a letter in the mail is a joy and much more rewarding than checking someones most recent tweet.

The same can be said of other forms of media, such as books in comparison to blog posts. Books force one to slow down and be more contemplative. I appreciate all this new social media that is now ubiquitous, but I feel at times that something is missing. It’s at these times that I slow down and do something introspective: write a letter, read a book, journal, meditate.

Do other people do this anymore, or is it dying?

2

Reflections on one year as a librarian

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Today marks my first full year as a full-fledged librarian. It has been a great year thanks to great co-workers a great location, and a campus culture that blends community and the college motto “Audeamus” (let us dare). I have drawn a few lessons from the year and figured I would share them here.

  1. Build bridges -  This year has been about getting to know people: co-workers, professors, staff, students, colleagues at conferences, etc. Relationships are important in any place you work. You need to be able to work as a team with your co-workers, and getting to know colleagues at conferences allows you learn more and possibly work on projects together. Being friendly and having connections in various places allows you to get different perspectives and possibly accomplish things easier. Treat people with respect and don’t discount any of your relationships with people.
  2. All fun, all the time -  This is the motto that I’ve tried to institute for our library. My view is that if I’m not having fun I’m doing something wrong. Sure, in any job there’s some drudgery but you can’t forget to have fun. We spend 40 hours a week for 40+ years of our lives working. That’s a significant chunk of time. You should probably be enjoying yourself at least some of that time. If there’s not fun, make some.
  3. Don’t forget the big picture -  Too often we get caught up with sending out emails, going to meetings, and getting our day to day work done without taking time out to ask, “Why?” “Why am I doing this?” “Why are we doing things this way?” “What are we trying to accomplish here?” Looking at the big picture is crucial to make sure you are heading in the direction you desire, not to mention giving your work a sense of purpose and meaning.

I have learned a lot and accomplished a lot. Among other things, I’ve hosted a chili cookoff, taught a couple dozen classes using the inquiry method, done web work, helped make important decisions with my colleagues, presented a poster at a conference, won a scholarship for the same conference, and made a lot of good friends. And that’s just the first year! I’m still learning a lot from the job and my co-workers though, so I can’t wait to see what this next has in store.