It took me a long time to jump on the Twitter bandwagon. I’m usually keen to try out new social media tools, but for some reason, I couldn’t warm up to Twitter. Why should I care what 10, 20 or 50+ people are doing in 140 characters or less? I don’t care if you’re at the grocery store, if your child was just potty trained or that you’re having take-out for dinner because you had a long day. Really, what is the point?
However, this past Fall I did decide to finally create a Twitter account and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. While I’ll never tweet to the degree that some other members do – btw, how do they have time for tweeting so much?! – I’ve forged some excellent professional and personal relationships through Twitter and I find that my use of this tool is more like a news-ticker in Times Square. In essence, it’s a highlight of all of the latest library-related news stories for the day – throughout the day – and in a far more timely manner than waiting for a weekly newsletter or monthly journal article. And, when I’m really interested in a topic, I click on the link and read it.
I’ve discovered colleagues throughout the world with similar professional interests, as well as personal interests, and am enjoying these connections and the resulting conversations. However, most recently, I have discovered another use for Twitter.
A couple of weeks ago I received my copy of Conversations with Catalogers in the 21st Century in the mail. Excited to announce my most recent book acquisition, I tweeted my excitement and found a handful of other cataloguers throughout the world who are also reading this book. As a result, we decided that in a few weeks’ time, we will share snippets of interesting thoughts and comments on the book through Twitter. Not only will this increase sharing of ideas amongst each other, but will also provide our followers with exposure to some of the key concepts and ideas within this publication. What a great way to share professional ideas and to start conversations, ideas for additional blog posts, articles or publications!
I am now expanding my narrow view of what Twitter was to a much grander view of how it can be used and the many benefits it has for networking, professional highlights and current/timely news within the profession. In fact, I can see the benefit of creating departmental Twitter feeds for cataloguers to follow so that they, too, are exposed to the most recent cataloguing trends and ideas. This does not necessarily require the department to tweet, but does expose staff to new technologies and encourages professional development in a new way. (and acknowledges that many non-librarian staff are otherwise left out of professional development opportunities and access to tools such as this unless they do it on their own time)
Up until this point, I have only seen individual professionals tweet and libraries tweet out their services, programs and blog posts, but haven’t seen departments or in-house library teams use it as a professional development tool. I wonder if this is a new trend and use for Twitter that will begin to grow – or if another social media tool with develop to address this need/purpose.