There has been a growing interest in Twitter by librarians—actually by people in general. Over the past two months I’ve noticed a surge in new people joining the service.
It was reported at ACRL 2009 that “only librarians are using Twitter” in the context that students were not. I must humbly disagree. This is a perfect example of the problem of over generalization (which I am guilty of all the time!) and the need to keep it local. I counted over two hundred GT student accounts. Perhaps that is considered small compared to a population of 18,000 but 200+ people using a still-emerging technology is huge. There are far more students than librarians using Twitter at my institution. I would assume that with the proliferation of iPhones and iPhone-wannabe’s that mobile-focused websites will continue to grow rapidly.
Libraries & Twitter: that’s an old conversation. (I wrote a column back in June 2008 & this post back in April 2008.) A year later, what really interests me now is not how libraries are using Twitter, but rather how other campus entities have adopted it. Here is a quick (and by no means comprehensive) list of organizations at Georgia Tech using Twitter:
I like the idea that you can get all these little news blurbs from different people on campus. From the police and computing, to the dining hall, sports, student orgs, and academic departments. You get information immediately and directly from the source– and it all comes to you all in one place.. It also gives you a channel to respond to or to comment upon the content as well. So yes, it’s good to step back sometimes and not just look at what other libraries are doing, but what your community is as well. What does College Dorm 2.0 look like? What about Student Government 2.0 or Campus Dining 2.0? Stop thinking about just the library for a moment and consider how others on campus communicate with students as well. How can you work together with them?
One of the things I plan to do at UCSB is to see where these different campus units are in terms of emerging tech and then trying to lend a hand in helping them become better communicators. We’ll see how that goes. The point is, most of the time when I hear librarians talking about social technologies it tends to be with a student audience in mind; however I’ve had good conversations with our admissions department and campus marketing about 2.0 topics; they want to learn from us as well. I see this as a good opportunity for librarians to become campus leaders and helping campus staff incorporate this stuff into their work flow. I imagine pulling together a quick course and then taking it on the road to various departments and organizations around campus: a 2.0 road show for support staff and office professionals. Just an idea… I don't want to just "teach" them how to use social tech(like via brownbags), but to actually try and make a coordinated effort and conversation across campus.