University of Alberta Libraries: Twitter

April 9, 2012

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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Dalhousie University Library: Twitter

April 9, 2012

The Twitter link is somewhat difficult to find on the Dalhousie Libraries homepage. I had to scroll down about a page to locate the links, and I was initially confused when I tried to click on the Twitter logo, because the picture of the logo is not a link.  Instead, the links to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are listed below the pictures.   I found this to be a little bit counter-intuitive.  I think that the usability of these links would be improved if the logos for these tools linked to the website. 

Twitter itself 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.

Dalhousie University Library does a very good job of actively communicating with its users through Twitter.  The librarians actively respond to student tweets.  For example, a student tweeted that he had graduated on April 4th, and the library responded with congratulations.  Another student complained about the temperature, and the library also responded to this tweet.  However, they were unable to change the temperature.   Lindy Brown’s webpage  about Twittering libraries notes that one of the goals of using Twitter in libraries is to connect with users.  Dalhousie University is certainly doing this.

Dalhousie University Library uses Twitter to announce new services, such as 3D printing (on a side note, the use of 3D printing just made Dalhousie University Library “innovators” according to Michael Stephens’ April 9th blog post).  New books and events are also posted on the Dalhousie University Library’s Twitter feed.  I believe that Dalhousie University has done a great job of integrating its services with Twitter.

I would certainly use this tool if I was a patron of the Dalhousie Library.  The librarians post interesting events and news, and they also respond to their users’ posts.  I would follow this library’s posts, and I would also likely participate by asking questions if I needed to because I would be sure to get an answer.