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Twitter survey, Q5: Who organizes/runs the Twitter account for your library?

Posted by lindyjb on December 15, 2008

fiveNote: This is the fifth question of a 15-part questionnaire I sent out to over 90 libraries with Twitter accounts. 65 libraries responded. I used this information for a web 2.0 article for my LIS5313 class at Florida State University. Once the article is finished, I will share it on the blog. In the meantime, I am sharing data collected of the responses for each question.

Question five asked who organizes/runs the Twitter account for the library. I wanted to see if there was a pattern of who coordinated library Twitter accounts. If a specific title was mentioned more than once, I put a “X+number” to mean the number of times it was mentioned.  Otherwise, I simply listed the specific title mentioned by those surveyed. Some did not answer this question or provide their title.

(I know different titles can mean the same area of expertise and/or responsibilities so I put similar titles together).

Who’s running the Library’s Twitter account:

  • Assistant Reference Librarian
  • Reference Manager
  • Research Manager
  • Research Librarian
  • Reference Librarian (X4)
  • Reference/Technology Librarian
  • Reference & Instruction Librarian
  • Library webmaster
  • Web Design Specialist
  • Web Librarian
  • Library Webmaster
  • Systems Librarian
  • Information Technology Manager
  • Information Literacy Librarian
  • Divisional Librarian, Tech Services (head of Tech services and head Cataloger)
  • Information Services Director
  • Manager of Marketing & Communications
  • Public Programming Librarian
  • Public Relations Coordinator
  • Library Manager (X2)
  • Library Director (X4)
  • Head Cataloger (X2)
  • Youth Services Librarian
  • Youth Services Coordinator
  • Paraprofessional
  • Volunteer

Those who specifically mentioned a collaborative effort with others:

  • Computer Specialist, along with the Director, Head of Reference Dept and ILL Librarian. (This library asks others from other departments to contribute and they do).
  • Information Services Librarian + one other librarian (no title mentioned)
  • Reference Librarian plus help from Youth Services Librarian. (Director expressed interest also).
  • Web Specialist, but head of Electronic Services and Director of Technology have access.
  • Director formally runs it with the help of the Library Technology Assistant. Twitter posts are spread across all librarians.
  • Public Relations Coordinator runs it; Youth Services Coordinator posts.
  • Biomedical & Mechanical Engineering Librarian (though it is noted anyone from the staff can post)

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Twitter survey, Q3: What has been your experience using Twitter?

Posted by lindyjb on December 14, 2008

threeNOTE:  This is the third question of a 15-part questionnaire I sent out to over 90 libraries with Twitter accounts. 65 libraries responded. I used this information for a web 2.0 article for my LIS 5313 class at Florida State University. Once the article is finished, I will share it on the blog. In the meantime, I am sharing data collected of the responses from each question.

I asked librarians to describe what has been their experience with Twitter. While using Twitter for the library was a new experience for a handful of librarians, overall, the responses were positive regarding their experience with the service thus far. I informally divided answers by themes I saw throughout. Some of the comments:


“I’ve really enjoyed it and I hope to continue it indefinitely. The library culture [at my library] is very laid-back, casual, and that’s allowed me to be myself in my updates. I like being able to try new things… like the reference live-blogging and seeing how our followers react to it. I’ve had no complaints from either library staff or other tweeters.””

“For library – pretty much out of sight – almost everything that is posted to Twitter is automated, so it gets updated and kept fresh without much input from staff.”

“I don’t have feedback about whether our patrons are making use of our Twitter account, however it requires almost no staff time to maintain (our twits are automated with the Twitterfeed application). It’s easy to provide this service even if the usage is uncertain.”

“Beyond the reliability issues and some brief problems with our RSS feed, the experience has been positive.”

“Great! We tweet to tell people about programs, to ask for input and to direct them to our site and other 2.0 outlets, like our blog and Facebook pages.”

“Overall, our experience with Twitter has been good. Most of the experiment is automated. I dump the RSS feed of new books and movies into Twitter. It has created an increased interest in our new items.”

“It is a fun, fast way to communicate, to see what others are doing”

“I post at least one tweet per day that refers followers back to other online resources, like flickr, our blog, our website, MySpace page, etc. I tweet about library and community events.”

“It’s easy since it’s all automated ( pulls the RSS form the library’s blog and flickr stream).”

“Positive, especially in the last 6 months since they have resolved many of their outage issues.”

“It’s been positive, overall. Generally speaking, when we can increase the number of communication media we use to reach various groups, it benefits everyone. You just have to be selective and back the right horse from the beginning. For example, Orkut and Friendster didn’t really get much traction in the social networking arena as compared to MySpace and Facebook. It would have been troubling to have put all of your resources into building a presence on one of those neglected sites.”

“Personally – a lot of fun and helpful. If I have questions about something or want opinions I can post them on Twitter and usually get an answer pretty quickly. It’s also great for keeping in touch with library friends I’ve met.”

“Very positive. It’s so easy that a few of our librarians, who aren’t comfortable with web2.0/library 2.0, pick up the Twitter interface in no time.”

“Simple and easy to use. Occasional service outages, but they don’t last very long. There have been times when I’ve tried to post a tweet and the Twitter servers are overloaded and I receive an error, but I just wait a minute or two and then I’m able to post the tweet without problems.”

“Generally positive, we have over 100 followers, now including the local newspaper.”

“It is easy to set up, quick to maintain and looks good for the library.”


“Especially like it for conferences – way to virtually attend a conference as people send tweets.”

“Way to “meet” a lot of people at my University; learned a lot about what they do and about new work-related items and issues.”

“Incredibly helpful in keeping in contact with other librarians around the world and keeping tabs on cool things that they’re doing.”

“We get to see how other libraries are using Web 2.0 – gives us wider peer-to-peer network than our local consortia offers.”

“I personally love Twitter. Professionally, I get a lot of tech support on Twitter that I don’t get at my library. There’s only one cataloger and we don’t have a programmer on staff, so when I work on some projects it’s good to have the help of my tweeps.”


“We use the account for marketing purposes.”

“We mainly use for publicity/marketing.”

“Most of our postings promote imminent events (like library programs) or comment from those events.”

“One more way to get the updates out. Savvy users know how to get tweets on their phones, so I hope that followers will turn on that feature.”


“As far as the library’s Twitter page goes, we have a lot of followers, but I don’t know how many follow through and go to the links we send out.”

“It is so encouraging to read from our follower’s responses after they discovered that we were Twittering.”

“We are getting a lot of followers so must be interesting to some folks.”

“Most following us are libraries, but we have also followed them back.”

“We have a bunch of followers (many libraries from around the country, but also some local organizations, radio stations, etc).”

“So far, we’re not being followed by a lot of our users. Most of the other people following our Tweets are other librarians, other libraries, etc.”

“The library is seen as hip and cool by keeping up with the latest technology. Local bloggers use our tweets to blog about happenings at the library.”

“I Started with a personal account… then I set up [our library] account with the intent of broadcasting updates the community about our struggling library. It turns out most of our followers are library professionals around the country and around the world, plus some [sic] who are not necessarily (a) in our neighborhood or (b) into libraries. We’ve become Twitter pals with numerous library people and local people who often offer advice and encouragement. One of our most interesting episodes in our Twitter life was Hurricane Gustav, when we gave and received pertinent updates via Twitter before, during and after the storm.”

“We try to follow everyone who follows us, but some of the tweets aren’t appropriate for a publicly-funded library.”

“It was slow going to get people to add us – we now have 103 followers which is interesting.”


“Wish length of text could be more than 140 characters.”

“I have enjoyed using Twitter, but I’ve been frustrated with the lack of tech support or response to user suggestions and complaints, especially regarding the search function.”

“Seems to be a somewhat different kind of communication than anything else: not quite like email, IM, or blogs.”

“Over the past several months I’ve created three different accounts – one for our library, one for me and one for our new building project.”

“Not many staff members help change the content.”

“Initial use – keep in contact with coworkers in far away locations; now use personal account to stay up-to-date during conferences; use library account for promotional purposes.”

“First use was to use as a private notice board for reference desk news (making our tweets private and only allowing library staff to follow). When we found out that there was interest in following from the public, we decided to revamp our account and use it to publicize library workshops, collections, service, and events.”

“Original use was to provide an off-site mechanism for our administrative staff to alert the public (and staff) of Library weather related closings or emergencies. Unfortunately because of delayed lapses in posting, we have moved to another reliable service.”

“We stopped using it on our blog. If we served a very wired population, we would have continued.”

“Our library recently set up its Twitter account and we have yet to fully integrate it into our reference services. We really do not have information to share about using the tool with patrons. We are still determining who in our system will work with this.”

“Experience limited to only the library’s Twitter account.   We don’t use it the way it was intended – as real-time “what’s happening” or as a collaborative tool for work groups – but we seem to be reaching some people out there.”

“No experience outside of our library account … opening a Twitter account seemed like the next step (after creating a MySpace and Facebook account for the library).”

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Twitter survey, Q2b: What are the cons of (libraries) using Twitter?

Posted by lindyjb on December 13, 2008

twob1Note: This is the second (part b) question of a 15-part questionnaire I sent out to over 90 libraries with Twitter accounts. 65 libraries responded. I used this information for a web 2.0 article for my LIS5313 class at Florida State University. Once the article is finished, I will share it on the blog. In the meantime, I am sharing data collected of the responses for each question.

While most libraries say there are few negatives to using Twitter, they do share some problems with the service: its brevity, the fact it hasn’t caught on with patrons quite yet, it’s another thing to update, fellow staff members are hesitant to use it, and the fact that it can be a time-waster. A few librarians mentioned technological problems as well.

Brevity. Some librarians note it is difficult to keep their announcements brief and had to repackage messages to fit within the 140-character limit keystroke. Comments:

“The 140 character limit is sometimes too short to be adequate.”

“We have to repackage some of our entries to fit within the keystroke limits of Twitter.”

Lack of Support or Interest from Colleagues. Despite the ease of use of Twitter, not all librarians, libraries and administrative staff have warmed up to it yet. Some librarians are hesitant to try the service or are already overworked and not open to adding another thing to monitor on their plate.

“Some of us in the office enjoy it, but the rest of the office doesn’t quite embrace it – thus when only two people are tweeting, it’s pretty limited to what us two are specifically involved with.”

Twitter's famous Fail Whale

Twitter's famous Fail Whale

Technological Problems. While Twitter hasn’t had many technological problems recently, there was a time where the famous “Fail Whale” was a very familiar sight to see on the website. One library mentioned that recent lapses or delays in service made Twitter unreliable for them. (When using Twitter for announcements regarding climatic weather closings, the need for a reliable announcement and emergency service was especially important). There was a period of time when Twitter crashed often due to the increased overload on their servers. The addition of many third-party applications that enhance Twitter’s service has tapped its servers.

“Twitter filled the bill for posting emergency notices…Recent lapses or delays in the service (some of the accounts did not update for several days after posting was done) plus the length of characters limitation, have made us move to a more reliable service (WordPress) for most of our purpose.”

“Reliability issues – although Twitter service has improved recently, there was a period of time it wasn’t working too well.”

Reaches only a select audience/Not popular amongst patrons…yet. Twitter only reaches a select audience of tech-savvy patrons. Many librarians note that because Twitter hasn’t caught on yet with many of their patrons and clientele, their library’s reach with Twitter is limited. (This may be a challenge depending on a Library’s location. A library that is in a larger city will likely have a more tech-savvy clientele that they can connect with through Twitter. Another library, for example, that serves a high population of Amish will probably not rely as heavily on Twitter to connect with their clientele).

“I don’t think a lot of people in the real world are aware of it yet, so its reach is limited.”

“You may not have that many people online for your library. A majority of your patrons may not use it or care to use it.”

“The only con may be that not all our customers use twitter, but we have a printed newsletter, an email newsletter, our web site, printed flyers, a blog and word of mouth for those who do not follow us on Twitter.”

“Some patrons do not “get” Twitter… Oftentimes, social profiles such a Twitter and MySpace tend to only attract other libraries or librarians and not the target audience.”

Yet another thing to update. Remembering to do updates is a difficulty noted by some, especially when the librarian has many other duties to tend to while at work. Many of the libraries using Twitter also have blogs, Facebook/MySpace pages, and the website to continually update, thus making Twitter yet an additional responsibility to an already full workday.

“It’s another account we have to keep active.”

“Posting [to twitter] can get lost in the midst of busy days (just like with the blogs).”

“Requires somebody to update it (sometimes this is the hardest part).”

“I don’t think there are any cons if it is used appropriately, but the devil is in the details, as they say. The biggest problem with being present in any social media space lies in the time involved in the commitment to be present. It doesn’t’ work unless you keep it up to date and engage with a community.”

Time waster/Not necessary. Some librarians find Twitter time consuming and discovered other programs (e.g., IM between staff and Meebo for patrons) that serve their purposes better for communication.

“We found Twitter to not be useful for us. It was a little too intrusive and time consuming. We use Messenger IM between staff members and Meebo for answering questions from patrons.”

“It takes time away from other work.”

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