Who speaks for your library?

This past Wednesday, I gave my first SWONtech News webinar. Log in for an hour and you’ll find news and research that relates to libraries. I’ll be blogging about some of the stories that I covered there, especially since the story topics (like e-readers and ebooks) will continue to develop for a long time to come.

One topic I discussed was social media use by libraries. We looked at screenshots of Twitter’s redesigned website. For new users, especially, it makes important features (@Replies and #Trends) more visible. I encouraged (pushed?) listeners to engage on Twitter in a professional capacity. By that I mean connecting to peers and patrons.

While I was speaking someone typed into the chat bar, “Our library doesn’t have a Twitter account.” Believe it or not, this may be good news. Publishing announcement-type posts to Facebook from the library as a whole might be done by several different people on staff. In that case, it’s the news that’s important, and not which person posts it. These announcements are important, but they aren’t very personal, and it’s not very surprising that they don’t receive many comments.

You can use Twitter to supplement announcement-type posts by tweeting as a human being. Use your picture in your profile, not a picture of your library. Follow other librarians. Follow news organizations. Retweet (share) the information you find, and be open to sharing some of your personal responses and activity. You represent your library, but you aren’t its official and only voice.

Who speaks for you library? Lots of people do. Libraries are part of communities of people, whatever type of library they happen to be. Twitter is an easy way you can speak for your library as an individual. If you’re willing to field comments and questions (whether directly or simply with links to current information), your 140-character tweets can accomplish a lot. They can also help patrons build relationships with libraries–with the people who work there and not just the building they visit.

Tweeting from your own account, instead of the library’s, is a great way to complement the communication efforts of your library. Yours isn’t the only voice speaking for your library, but it’s a voice that counts.

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