Librarianship on Twitter

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Laksamee Putnam, highlighting her choices for librarians to follow on Twitter that reflect today’s profession!

Image

Recently on Business Insider the above image was used in a list of the 10 least stressful jobs in America. My bemused reaction can be appropriately animated through Twilight Sparkle. So, I’ve created a list of my own. Here are a few library people I follow on twitter, advocates for librarianship who better reflect us in the here and now.  Librarians have broken out of the stereotype that image displays, we are using social media, following tech trends and contributing to the media culture of today. I think you’ll find us to be like any other professional group, frequently stressed out about our work, but still passionate about what we do.

1. Andy Woodworth @wawoodworth

Andy Woodworth is a New Jersey librarian. He was a 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. Andy even managed to get a response from the Old Spice guy. You can read more about that and more on his blog. His twitter feed is a great mix of real life, library humor and library advocacy.

2. Librarian Wardrobe @LibWardrobe

Edited by four stylish librarians who are worth following in their own right (@pumpedlibrarian, @catladylib, @magpielibrarian, & @beccakatharine) Librarian Wardrobe originally began on tumblr, archiving and showcasing how librarians do not fit the stereotype of the image above. Be on the look out, and be ready to look your best at Midwinter or Annual!

3. Jason Vance @jvance

A librarian at Middle Tennessee State University, Jason Vance recently gained infamy through his tumblr, The Lives and Deaths of Academic Library Staplers However, I previously followed him when he was active on @politelibrarian and blogging for A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette.  Jason is a great candidate for #followalibrarian, his days are filled with humorous accounts of meetings, reference interactions and typical academic library antics. 

4. Sarah Houghton @TheLiB

The Librarian in Black recently celebrated it’s 10th birthday! Sarah Houghton has a a great voice and is a wonderful resource for technology in libraries. Her posts are thought provoking and her library advocacy is always strong, well thought out and practical. I highly recommend reading through her blog and following her.

5. David Lee King @davidleeking

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. His active twitter and blog presence make him a fount of technology information. Frequently, his reviews of digital tools and examples of creative uses of social media within libraries have inspired me to start a new project.

6. Librarian Problems @librarianprblms

This is real life people. Nothing describes the insanity of a workplace better than a well worded and executed GIF. The tumblr  gets funnier the longer you read, but be ready to explain to your coworkers why you’re laughing uncontrollably in your cubicle. Props to @williamottens for creating something that makes the stress of my day manageable.

Laksamee Putnam is a Research & Instruction Librarian at Towson University, Albert S. Cook Library.  She is specifically liaison to the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics.  Laksamee holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana.  Her research interests focus on the use of emerging technologies and social media in science.   Find out more about her here or follow her on Twitter!

Managing Social Media with IFTTT

Yesterday I attended the first *official* meeting of the Maryland Library Association’s Social Media User Group. The primary discussion focused around a panel of local library professionals who are active in managing library social media accounts. Throughout this discussion, several tools were mentioned for managing multiple social media accounts to create a cohesive presence across platforms. With many of the panelists singing the praises of “IFTTT” for managing content, and several attendees left wanting to know more, the site seems ripe for further discussion in the library world.

What is “IFTTT?”

If This Then That logo

“IFTTT” (pronounced like “gift” without the “g”) stands for “If This Then That.” It is a web-based service that allows you to create automatic connections between different internet applications. These applications, which IFTTT calls “channels,” currently include over 50 sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Delicious, as well as productivity applications like email and Google Drive. Once you’ve created your IFTTT account, you can activate any of the channels in which you have an account and would like to link to other applications.

After activating channels, you will be able to create “recipes” to automatically link content across accounts or to automate activities you perform frequently. Recipes consist of a “trigger” from one channel that leads to an “action” in another channel. Want to archive your Facebook posts as a journal in Evernote? Or automatically post a link of your most recent blog post to your Facebook timeline? Create a recipe!

Recipes in IFTTT

Create Recipe in IFTTT

Create a Recipe in IFTTT

IFTTT gives you the option to set up personal recipes or share your recipes with other users. This means there are already several shared recipes set up for IFTTT channels that you can use or view as examples.

IFTTT leads you through creating a new recipe in a few simple steps. Let’s say I want all of our new LibTechTalk posts to automatically appear as links on my Facebook page. First, I select the channel that will initiate the trigger (or the “this” in the “if this then that” chain).

Choose Trigger in IFTTT

Choosing a trigger channel in IFTTT

Once I’ve selected a channel, I need to choose a trigger action. For this recipe, I’ll choose “Any new post” in the WordPress channel. This means my recipe will be “triggered” every time a new post appears on LibTechTalk.

Choose Trigger in IFTTT

Choose “Any new post” in the WordPress as the recipe trigger.

Next, I choose the channel in which I want the next action to occur (or the “that” in the “if this then that” chain).

Choose action in IFTTT

Setting up an action

In this case, I want the action to occur on my Facebook page, and will select the Facebook channel accordingly. Then, I’ll choose the action I want to occur in Facebook, in this case “Create a link post.”

Choose action in IFTTT

Choose an action in IFTTT

After selecting the action, I can customize how the post will appear in on my Facebook page.

Complete action in IFTTT

Customize an action

Finally, add in a description of the recipe and I’m done! I can also choose to share the recipe with other users, turn the recipe “off,” or delete the recipe altogether.

Finished personal recipe

A personal recipe in IFTTT

Using IFTTT

Although IFTTT does not allow you to monitor any of the activity in your social media accounts, it takes some of the hassle out of linking activities and content across several different sites. You will still need to manage the spontaneous engagement that is so important in cultivating a vibrant social media presence, but IFTTT can help you automate the routine tasks you find yourself completing time and time again. Best of all, IFTTT is free to use and can be accessed anywhere you have internet access.

Ready to dive into IFTTT?

How do you use IFTTT? Do you have any great recipes? Tell us in the comments!

 

Guest Post: HootSuite for Library Tweets!

Librarians, If you have a Twitter account for your library, I highly recommend tweeting from HootSuite.com.

If you currently tweet from the original web version of Twitter.com, follow these instructions to simplify tweeting on behalf of your library.
Go to HootSuite.com and register. Since I am the sole person that tweets for our library, I tweet for both @csbsjulibraries and @amylibrarian from one HootSuite account. See below. You check which account you would like to tweet from.

In the web version of Twitter, you can see if someone is using HootSuite or another Twitter application.

If a library uses HootSuite, it appears like this.

When someone tweets directly from Twitter.com, it appears like this:

The biggest benefit of using HootSuite is that you can schedule tweets. I know that we have a Book Lovers event on April 13th. I have already sent a tweet advertising for the event, but I’d also like to send a tweet on the day of the event. Here is how I would do it.

(Click on the image to enlarge)
Here is what it looks like in HootSuite when you have scheduled tweets. You have a list of tweets that have been sent and a list of tweets that are pending. You can go back and edit any tweets that are pending.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

When I used the original web version of Twitter, I would try to tweet each day. This was time consuming. I felt pressured to be “on the spot.”
Now that I can schedule tweets, I spend a dedicated amount of time scheduling tweets for weeks in advance instead of dabbling in Twitter each day.

I realized last week that Holocaust Remembrance Day was coming up on Sunday, April 11th. I do not work on Sundays. This is not a problem, I scheduled the Tweet.

Another great feature of HootSuite is that you can easily view conversations of back and forth ‘replies’ with patrons. Just click on Show Conversation.

After clicking on show conversation, you will see the back and forth dialogue.

In December, the library had extended hours for finals, but the automated lights were still set for our normal library hours. Unfortunately, this left our students in the dark at midnight. I heard about this situation through Twitter!


(Yes, I asked permission to use @rebeccapeichel’s tweets)

Please let me know if you have any questions about using HootSuite!


Amy Springer is a Government and Business Information Librarian at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University. She is the liaison to the Management, Economics, and Accounting departments. She is interested in how libraries can effectively and efficiently use social media. She is also interested in using pop culture in library instruction. She is the Ch-Ch-Ch Changing librarian at http://ch-ch-chchanginglibrarian.blogspot.com

You don’t have to be just a Libtechtalk groupie. Did you know that this blog is looking for guest authors? Contact ctomlinson at towson.edu to find out how you too can write about your favorite technologies and how they might be used in academic libraries.

“It’s just a modern day communication device…”

With the recent release of the 2009 edition of the Horizon Report, the definition of emerging technologies must be redefined, refocused, or at least re-evaluated. This new report, along with a discussion I attended in Denver, has prompted me to write about a not-so-new technology: cell phones. Or, as the Horizon Report calls them, mobiles. The reason behind this name-change is that these devices are much more than just phones; these devices allow you to “take pictures, record audio and video, store data, music, and movies, and interact with the Internet” from almost anywhere at any point in time.1 So, while the cell phone has been around for awhile, these mobile devices are rather new, but are creeping up on those of us in higher education more quickly than those old cell phones did 10 years ago or so.

“So why should I care if someone’s phone can take pictures and whatnot?”

Well, they could be taking a picture of you, so look your best. But, more importantly, mobile devices are a new and increasingly popular gateway to the world of information that is out there. As a library, it is important for us to make sure that the information we feel is necessary for students is accessible through these devices. This means websites, library catalogs, and tutorials should be built with mobile devices in mind. There is a great article on A List Apart to get you started thinking mobilely. (I think I just created a new adverb!)

“I just put my website up! I’m not going to change it now, so why else should I care?”

Reference
Mobile devices, like their legacy predecessors, are used for communication. Phone calls, text messages, and emails are no longer emerging methods of communication, but our methods of dealing with these communication forms have yet to emerge. Reference desks can take advantage of AOL’s integration of text messaging into their instant message interface. Library patrons can send a text to 246246 with “send tucookchat” at the beginning of the message, and it will be received at the reference desk (e.g. “send tucookchat are there any free computers on the 3rd floor”).

Library Tours
Museums have been offering guided audio tours of their collections for years. Why can’t this work for libraries too? Using a service like Guide By Cell, llibraries can provide their patrons with information about the library and offer help for commonly asked questions, like “How does this string of letters and numbers help me find a book?” Dartmouth is offering this service already.

Instruction
Clickers (student response systems) are all the rage in library instruction right now: active learning and instant feedback – a match made in heaven! An emerging technique is to use mobile devices as a clicker. Students can text their answer, the data is compiled, and instantaneously produced into meaningful results. Platforms for this type of interaction are being developed by researchers like SMSRS Research and companies like Turning Technologies. Of course, if you have a twitter (find out more about twitter) account you can collect feedback from students via their mobile devices right now. To text to someone’s twitter account, simply send a text to 40404 with “@username” at the begninning of the message (e.g. “@mulcahey99 you have the coolest screen name ever!”). Of course, your students will need to have a twitter account too…

This leads me to my caveat for all of this. We sometimes assume that every student who walks through our doors is a user of the latest technologies, has their own cell phone, sends texts to their friends, and knows more about computers than we do. While this may be mostly accurate, it is not always the case, so it is important to consider (especially for instruction) how to involve those who may not be as technologically inclined. Schools like Abilene Christian University are accounting for this by distributing iPhones to all freshmen.

As more universities follow in Abilene Christian’s footsteps, mobile devices will become more and more prevalent on our campuses, not just for communication but in the classroom and in the library.

(And for those who haven’t seen it, the title of this post is a reference to Steve Martin’s “L.A. Story” – best movie ever.)


1 Johnson, L., Levine, A., & Smith, R. (2009). The 2009 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Twitter the night away

Everybody always asks me what the point of twitter is, and I rarely have the ability to support its existence. So, I decided to look into it a little more…

For those unaware, twitter is a service/application commonly used for micro-blogging. How does this differ from blog-blogging? Well, like the name suggests, it’s shorter. Rather than long-winded entries (like this one), twitter users give short messages (limited to 140 characters) about what they are doing, thinking, observing, or anything else they’d like to share. These are called “tweets”.

Tell the world what you're doing!

Tell the world what you are doing!

So far, so good? Okay. Tweets can be sent to twitter from your cell phone, PDA, or non-mobile computing device in a variety of different ways. Each “tweeter” (n. one who tweets) can “follow” other tweeters, building a complex network of tweeters tweeting on twitter. Other tweeters may be your friends, politicians, celebrities, random folk, or a group of some sort (hint, hint). Tweets can be directed to an individual or the entire twitterdom. If one so wishes to follow you, they can view your tweets from http://twitter.com, or they can receive your updates as a text message on their cell phone (an opt-in service, so it’s only there if you want it to be).

A list of tweets from my fellow tweeters

A list of tweets from my fellow tweeters

So what can twitter offer to the library world?
Lots of libraries, universities, and corporations are already using twitter to market their services. UIUC’s Undergraduate Library operates under the name “askundergrad“, providing information about campus and library events, services, and resources. In fact, Towson University has a twitter profile and so does The Towerlight. Your tweets can also be connected to your website as I’ve done with my tweets. Twitter is just one more way to broadcast the library’s message to the world.

But…

I think there’s more that it can be used for:

  • reference services – tweeters could ask and librarians could tweet back
  • helpful library status tweets like, “The 3rd floor is packed; try the first floor if you are looking for a computer”
  • promote new materials in your liaison area; then tweet them with your faculty and students
  • promote your new blog posts on twitter using an intermediary service like twitterfeed
  • quickly post messages detailing your whereabouts on your website (use with caution – sometimes being invisible is a good thing)
  • create a twitter account for a class you’re working with, and have them contribute comments about their research experiences
  • use that same account during your library instruction session to get feedback on how things are going (assessment, anyone?)
  • the next time you’re at a conference, see if there’s a twitter account for the conference, and share your experience with other attendees
  • do some x-treme tweeting like Jeff Scott at City of Casa Grande Public Library

Twitter is a pretty simple application; the real power is when you connect it with other tools, applications, and services. Also, take a look at EduCause’s “7 Things You Should Know About Twitter“.

Maybe it’s time for Albert S. Cook to start tweeting…