Library Twitter?

Don’t hate me because I’m not a big fan of Twitter. I have friends who use it and I’ve followed bloggers who swear by the coolness of it, and I haven’t yet determined a reason to join the bandwagon. Until today.

Deb Zimmer, the Technology Coordinator for the Chemung County Library District had just attended a session on Web 2.0 technologies, hoping to learn how she could use an IM client to send out alerts to patrons using public computers in her library. I asked her if she were familiar with Twitter, and she admitted the panelists identified it as a cool web 2.0 tool, but didn’t tell the audience why. I don’t use Twitter, so I’m not familiar with the interface, but I wondered if perhaps she could use Twitter to broadcast messages to each public computer such as, “You have 5 minutes left on this computer. Please save your work and log off now” or “The library will be closing in 15 minutes.”

Of course, this works only if the time slots for computers are all on the same schedule (i.e. every hour on the hour). Directly after lunch, Deb, Barbara, and I attended a session about technology trends, and at one point Joan Frye Williams, an Information Technology Consultant, mused that she wished someone would craft a practical use for Twitter in the library. After her session, I approached her and shared my nascent idea. She liked my idea and thought it made sense, agreeing that a small library that can’t afford pricey time management systems could benefit from such a practical--and free--solution. While we were chatting, a grad school student offered this example of Twitter: (check out the right column, called UGL Alerts—it’s Twitter!) Serendipity. Think about it!


Twitter is very useful for libraries who want to create alerts for patrons. The time management is a good concept, but probably only for a massive message such as announcing the library is closing. My library set-up all of our rss feeds to dump into twitter. Now if there are new books in the system, a program scheduled for the day, or a newsletter about new books, you can get an alert via twitter.

Check out my library and my post about it,

It has more uses than you think.?

Wow, thanks for sharing your library, Jeff. I'm impressed by how you've implemented Twitter in a purposeful manner, rather than the mundane "I'm eating cornflakes right now" broadcast typical of some Twitter users. I also love how you've shared different types of content using free technologies that match what your patrons want. For example, using a Google calendar for events and an RSS feed for new books is just terrific! What a great way to present timely and interesting information. I'll be checking back often--using your RSS feed, of course!--to learn what other cool things you're brewing over at the Casa Grande Public Library.