Twitter is one of the best tools for promoting library services, resources, and programs. Lots of libraries use Twitter well. Check out the New York Public Library, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Kansas City Public Library, and UIUC Undergraduate Library for some good examples.
However, some libraries send out tweets that aren’t particularly welcoming. Some tweets simply do not help in the promotion of library services and resources. Frustrated, I sent out this tweet the other day:
Why do some libraries use Twitter to post things about noise & no food? You perpetuate a stereotype of the library as an unfriendly place!
— Joe Hardenbrook (@mrlibrarydude) May 10, 2012
So, how do you avoid being the Twitter equivalent of this library sign? Below are a few guidelines…
Rule #1: Avoid the schoolmarm tweets:
Dear students, let’s have scholarly environment in the Library. Please do not talk loudly and respect your peers.Thank you.
— Tenn State Univ Lib (@TNSTATE_LIBRARY) September 25, 2009
Rule #2: Avoid the “No Food” tweets and other policy tweets.
I understand that some libraries have “no food” policies, but Twitter isn’t the best tool for policy enforcement. It can also make your library sound rather passive aggressive. Here are some examples:
We’d appreciate it if our students would remember – no food, no drinks cans and no mobile phone conversations in the Law Library. Thank you.
— Law Library (@nuliblaw) April 25, 2012
This food was found in the library last night.Please remember there is a “No Food in the Library” policy.Thanks! fb.me/DWKZoSFE
— UF Law Library (@uflawlibrary) November 17, 2011
We would like to remind you that our policy is ‘no food in the library’, whether you are consuming it or not. Please don’t bring food in!
— BPP Holborn Library (@BPPHolbornLib) April 23, 2012
A No Food and Drink policy is in operation at the Main Library throughout Library 24/7. For more information seeow.ly/aK0he
— Durham Uni Library (@dulib) May 7, 2012
Policy tweets, such as “No Food,” may also confuse users (e.g., differing policies at different libraries):
Please be aware that food/drink policies vary at libraries around campus. Thank you for not eating in the Ed Library. go.iu.edu/49K
— IU Education Library (@iulibeduc) November 1, 2011
If you must post a “no food” tweet, here’s a more positive spin:
Help us keep the UGL clean and neat during finals: Please NO food in library and all drinks must have a lid. More info: bit.ly/vOChPn
— UIUC Undergrad Lib (@askundergrad) May 6, 2012
Rule #3: Instead of negativity, offer suggestions. Here are a few examples that positively address noise issues at libraries:
Looking for a quiet place to study? Try the McFadden-Willis Reading Room on the 4th floor of the Library! :] fb.me/1IDpjK0x3
— UCMerced Library (@ucmercedlib) May 9, 2012
Quiet zones in effect! Look for signs around the Library and please be respectful! #clublib
— FSU/Pierpont Library (@FSUPCTCLib) May 1, 2012
Please respect Quiet Zone areas located in the Library’s Basement,2nd & 3rd floors. Take cell phone calls to Library Lounge and Stairwells.
— Leonard Lief Library (@lehmanlibrary) May 18, 2011
Rule #4: Try avoiding “Please do not…” tweets. Even if you add “please” – your tweet can still be construed as negative.
Please do not use tape as a bookmark. It discolors the pages & leaves a sticky residue. Thank you! twitter.com/ACCDLib/status…
— Art Center Library (@ACCDLib) January 26, 2012
Of course, sometimes you need to adjust the rules. Here’s an example of a “Please do not” tweet that would be perfectly acceptable:
Please do not leave your belongings unattended in the library.This is the time of year when people get sticky fingers/items seem to walk off
— TorreysonLibraryUCA (@UCA_Library) May 5, 2010
Rule #5: Just as with other forms of written communication, you generally want to avoid CAPITAL LETTERS so you are not yelling:
NO FOOD IN THE LIBRARY. Please and thank you. Drinks with lids are welcome. Have a smoothie, leave sandwiches outside w/ the squirrels.
— NewtonGreshamLibrary (@SHSU_Library) May 10, 2012
So what other rules would you suggest? Post your comments here!