University of Alberta Libraries: Twitter

The Twitter link is pretty easy to find on the University of Alberta Libraries’ homepage.  It is located at the bottom right of the screen, and unlike Dalhousie Library’s link, the Twitter logo is the link.  As previously stated, Twitter is a pretty simple tool.  It really is just a running list of short messages, and I think even new users can look at the tool and immediately understand what its purpose is.  Both finding and using Twitter through the University of Alberta Libraries is fairly easy.

The University of Alberta Libraries’ Twitter seems to be, in a way, the central Twitter for all of the University’s individual libraries. The University of Alberta has several libraries such as the Rutherford Library, the Cameron Library, The J. W. Scott Library and the Winspear Library.  All of these libraries participate in the University of Alberta Libraries’ Twitter, and also have Twitter feeds of their own.  I think that this is a really great way for the libraries to connect and communicate with each other.

The University of Alberta Libraries’ Twitter feed seems to serve multiple functions.  They use Twitter to make the usual one-directional announcements about events, hours and new items in the collection.  They also use Twitter as a means of offering assistance to their patrons.  For example, on March 27th, a librarian tweeted to a student: “Good luck with your project! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask”.   A day later, a librarian referred another user to a subject specialist via Twitter.  The University of Alberta Libraries is certainly using Twitter as a means to communicate their services.

One service I would like to see an academic library use Twitter for is reference service.   In their article “Collaborative Reference Work in the Blogosphere”, which appeared in the second issue of the 2006 edition of Reference Services Review, Pomerantz and Stutzman argue that blogs present an opportunity for collaborative reference services.  Because multiple authors can view and respond to a post, several librarians can work together over blogs to answer reference questions and deliver better responses.  I think that the centrality of the University of Alberta’s Twitter feed presents a great opportunity for this kind of collaborative reference.  However, twitter does not allow for lengthy posts, so it is possible that it’s potential as a reference tool would be limited to “quick” questions.

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