Oh Twitter! Some people love you, some people hate you. I’m one of the former; I unabashedly love Twitter. Yes, it might be a time-waster (Will Manley calls it Fritter), but the possibilities are wonderful too. Deployed for personal use, Twitter allows users to get in contact with a variety of people–real-life friends, Internet friends, and famous folks they admire. I’m particularly fond of using it to chat with writers and artists I’m a fan of. Deployed for professional use, Twitter can be a boon for marketing, promotion, and help. Many libraries have begun using Twitter to reach a large audience with immediacy; this is great for letting folks know about programming, events and classes, collection additions, unexpected things like closures or computer issues, and even doing reference work. Twitter’s hashtag system is also something awesome; check out #libday8 for a collection of “day in the life of” details and images from librarians academic, special, public, and otherwise. Hashtags allow people who can’t be at conferences to follow along with the conversations (#alamw), find new things to read (#womenreadsf, #YAlitchat, #Fridayreads, and many, many others), commiserate with fellow students (#libraryschool), and share the sometimes-nutty world of library work (#latenightlibrarian, #infolit, and #linkeddata, among others).
Awhile back, Andy Burkhardt at Information Tyrannosaur (amazing blog name) compiled a list of six things libraries should Tweet. I think that’s a pretty solid list and the reasoning for each item is sound. A former classmate of mine from grad school has talked about Twitter’s uses in classroom environments on her blog as well–and this was an aspect I had not really considered. It might be best known for breaking false news of celebrity deaths, but it’s become clear that Twitter is fundamentally a tool that can be shaped to nearly any purpose.