How Not to Tweet for Your Library

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:

So, how do you avoid being the Twitter equivalent of this library sign? Below are a few guidelines…

No cell phone use in the library!

Image from Flickr, courtesy of Travelin’ Librarian.

Rule #1: Avoid the schoolmarm tweets:

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:

Policy tweets, such as “No Food,” may also confuse users (e.g., differing policies at different libraries):

If you must post a “no food” tweet, here’s a more positive spin:

Rule #3: Instead of negativity, offer suggestions. Here are a few examples that positively address noise issues at libraries:

Rule #4: Try avoiding “Please do not…” tweets. Even if you add “please” – your tweet can still be construed as negative.

Of course, sometimes you need to adjust the rules. Here’s an example of a “Please do not” tweet that would be perfectly acceptable:

Rule #5: Just as with other forms of written communication, you generally want to avoid CAPITAL LETTERS so you are not yelling:

So what other rules would you suggest? Post your comments here!

iPads @ the Library

My library now has 6 iPads available for checkout. At this point, they’re pretty much still the “out of the box” version, with few apps installed. I’m working with a group of library staff and a student worker to determine which apps to install, and also to devise a user survey.

As expected, the iPads have checked out like hotcakes. If we had double the amount of iPads, they’d still all be checked out!

Students, faculty, and staff can check out an iPad on a first come, first serve basis. No reservations. We allow the iPads to leave the library. The loan period is 7 days.

Here’s the list of apps that I’m interested in installing. Do you have any suggestions?

Reference & Information

  • Dictionary.com (free)
  • EasyBib (free)
  • Epicurious (free)
  • Fandango Movies (free)
  • Google Earth (free)
  • Google Maps – comes installed
  • Google Search (free)
  • IMDB (free)
  • Kayak (free)
  • Periodic Table (free)
  • Shazam (free)
  • Urbanspoon (free)
  • The Weather Channel (free)
  • WebMD (free)
  • Wikipanion (free)

Productivity

  • Evernote (free)
  • GarageBand ($4.99)
  • iMovie ($4.99)
  • Keynote (presentations) – purchased & installed ($9.99)
  • Mail – comes installed
  • Numbers (spreadsheets) – purchased & installed ($9.99)
  • Pages (word processing) – purchased & installed ($9.99)

Utilities

  • Calendar – comes installed
  • Calculator Pro ($0.99)
  • Dragon Dictation (free)
  • Dropbox (free)
  • Mint.com (free)
  • Notes – comes installed

Social Media

  • Facebook (free)
  • Foursquare (free)
  • Skype (free)
  • Twitter (free)
  • Yelp (free)

Photography & Video

  • Camera – comes installed
  • FaceTime – comes installed
  • Instapad (free)
  • Photo Booth – comes installed
  • PS Express (Photoshop Express) (free)

Games

  • Angry Birds HD Free (free)
  • Bejeweled Blitz (free)
  • Checkers (free)
  • Chess Free (free)
  • Fruit Ninja HD Lite (free)
  • Minesweeper (free)
  • NY Times Crosswords (free)
  • Pocket Piano (free)
  • Solitaire (free)
  • Sodoku Lite (free)
  • Temple Run (free)
  • TicTacFree (free)
  • Words with Friends HD Free (free)

News

  • ABC News (free)
  • BBC News (free)
  • Bloomberg (free)
  • CBS News for iPad (free)
  • CNET (free)
  • CNN (free)
  • ESPN ScoreCenter XL (free)
  • Flipboard (free)
  • Fox News (free)
  • Huffington Post (free)
  • MTV News (free)
  • Mashable (free)
  • NPR (free)
  • NY Times (free for “top news”)
  • The Onion (free)
  • Slate (free)
  • USA Today (free)
  • Washington Post (free)
  • WBAY, WLUK, WGBA (iPad apps of local TV stations – each are free)

Entertainment/Streaming Video & Audio

  • ABC Player (free)
  • Hulu Plus (free, but user needs Hulu subscription)
  • NBC (free)
  • Netflix (free, but user needs Netflix subscription)
  • Pandora (free)
  • PBS (free)
  • TED (free)
  • YouTube – comes installed

Books & Materials

  • Amazon Mobile (free)
  • CourseSmart (free)
  • Free Books (free)
  • iBooks (free)
  • Shakespeare (free)

Note: List modified, 2/27/2012

If you have experiences with iPads in the library, let me know! I’m looking for apps that would interest our students, faculty, and staff.

Also, if you’re thinking about getting iPads for your library, check out:

Setting Up a Library iPad Program – Sara Q. Thompson, College & Research Libraries News, April 2011

Tisch Library at Tufts University has some good information for their patrons about their loanable iPads.

Circulating iPads in an Academic Library – presentation by Jodi Bennett & Jessica Hutchings at the Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians 2011 Conference.

@ Your Library – iPads! – information, handouts, and videos from L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, WI.

Creating Current Events Guides

It’s been too long since my last blog post. Too many projects!

Well, I thought I’d blog about one of those projects: I’ve worked on creating research guides at my library that focus on current events. So far, I’ve done guides on the Occupy Movement, the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, and the killing of Osama bin Laden. It’s a good way to:

  • direct patrons to trustworthy information (e.g., the Wikipedia page for Occupy Wall Street is tagged for a “neutrality” check)
  • promote the library’s digital resources
  • spotlight books in the collection, and
  • demonstrate that the library is at the forefront of the ever-changing information environment

We use the popular LibGuides program at my institution. It’s easy to create individual guides and you have some flexibility for organizing your content. Of course, you could always create a simple webpage, too.

In my current events guides, I generally try to provide the following information:

  • Brief intro to the topic
  • Latest headlines (RSS feed via Google News or Yahoo News)
  • News & Media sources
  • Embedded Video (e.g., PBS Video–particularly Frontline and News Hour clips, C-SPAN Video Library, and CBS News allows embedding of its individual news clips)
  • Background Info (e.g., CQ Researcher database articles)
  • Catalog search & a few selected book titles on the topic
  • List of relevant databases to search for articles on the topic
  • Suggested keywords/search terms
  • Primary sources

Once you have the guide published, make sure and provide a direct link from your library homepage, and promote it on the library’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. If particularly pertinent, send out an email or contact individual faculty members/teachers.

There are lots of great examples of libraries that have put together current events guides. Here are a few select ones:

Know of a good current events guide? Share it here!

Why I Killed My Facebook Account

Many Facebook users are in an uproar over new changes, while bigger ones are about to be unveiled. I’ve had a Facebook account since 2005. Today, I killed it. Didn’t just deactivate it, but deleted it. The whole kit-and-kaboodle. Why?

It’s Not User-Friendly
I never complained much about the constant design changes. That’s the nature of technology and the Internet. In the beginning, the reason I loved Facebook over Myspace was its clean design. No glaring graphics, no ugly text. Now Facebook looks like a flashing Las Vegas neon sign.

Personal vs. Professional
Who are my “friends”? A lot of my co-workers are both friends and Facebook friends. Professional colleagues are Facebook friends. Family members are Facebook friends. Classmates from high school are Facebook friends–but many are not “real” friends–you know, these are the people who would never talk to you in high school, but for some reason want to be your Facebook friend! I just got tired of all of the different dividing lines. What to post and to whom? I know I could create different groups/lists. But really, it’s just a hassle. For the people I really do like: my co-workers, family members, and friends – I don’t need Facebook to stay in touch.

Privacy
This is the real stinker for me. Facebook had way too many privacy settings that seemed to change every month. And you always had to “opt out.” Sharing was automatic. No thank you. And now there are creepy things like this [update: Facebook has changed the timeline to avoid outing “unfrienders” – well at least that’s one good thing!]. This is what it all comes down to: Facebook is NOT about me or my friends. It’s about my data and how advertisers can market to me.

Do I think Facebook is important to libraries. Absolutely! Again, there’s that marketing aspect. But I’ll be using a “dummy” account to manage my library’s Facebook page.

Ultimately, I decided that I don’t want to live my life on Facebook. I want to live it in real life. That’s my call. I decide when and to whom I communicate with. I control the information. Facebook does not.

If you haven’t read these articles, check them out:

Not Sharing is Caring: Facebook’s Terrible Plan to Get Us to Share Everything We Do on the Web – Slate

Is Facebook Trying to Kill Privacy – Mashable

I Deleted My Facebook Account – Maxistentialism

Updated:

Excellent post from ReadWriteWeb – The New Facebook: 3 Major Implications

Twitter 101: Pet Peeves & Rules to Follow

I’ve been tweeting now @mrlibrarydude since 2008. By no means do I consider myself an expert, but it’s something that I find enjoyable and absolutely worthwhile professionally. Through Twitter, I’ve been able to connect with a great group of librarians, and other people interested in higher ed and technology. Through it, I’ve received lots of great ideas and advice. In fact, it’s usually the first thing I check when I get into the office. Here, I have developed some rules to follow, along with a few “pet peeves.” What do you think?

  • No bio: Make the effort to write a short bio on your Twitter profile. Don’t make me guess. Who are you? What are you interested in?
  • Re-tweets: Occasional re-tweeting is completely OK. I do it! But don’t let all of your tweets be re-tweets. Try putting your own spin on a re-tweet: do you agree, disagree, have a differing point to make about what you are re-tweeting? Tell us!
  • Zero tweets: Do not start following hundreds of people without tweeting something yourself. I don’t follow people with zero tweets.
  • Professional v. Personal Twitter accounts: You will find disagreement on this. Personally, I’m not a stickler for the professional v. personal Twitter accounts. I tend to be somewhere in the range of 70% professional tweets and 30% personal tweets (e.g., weekend fun, Flickr photos, daily musings). I like some levity. Reading people’s personal tweets often brings a smile to my face. Just beware of posting something that reflects poorly on your employer if you have indicated where you work in your Twitter bio. Libraryland is a small place.
  • Foursquare check-ins: If you have a Foursquare account, please TURN OFF the automatic post-to-Twitter setting. I don’t care if you’re at home, at work, at Target. An occasional post-to-Twitter is OK—especially if you’ve discovered a new place, good food (maybe I want to know!), or it’s something library-related.
  • Extended Tweet Statuses – Yes, I know you can now write more than 140 characters. But the point with Twitter is BREVITY! If you can’t say it in 140 characters, then blog it instead.
  • Hashtag love – Not sure if your followers will understand what you are tweeting? Then include a hashtag. Make it something understandable to your audience! Although I must admit that, as a librarian, I had no idea what the #hcod hashtag first stood for when all of the HarperCollins tweets started coming across my computer 😉
  • Negativity – this is the “Debbie Downer” tweeter, or the person with NOTHING ever good to say about anyone or anything—I get it. It’s your way to vent. But I’m not interested in it and I won’t be following you.
  • Private Profiles – This does bug me. If you’re going to follow me, then why is YOUR profile private? I understand people who want to use Twitter more for personal or “fun” activities might want a private profile. But, if you’re using it for professional purposes, why not make your profile public? It’s a good way to network.
  • Live Tweeting at conferences: Proceed with caution. For this to work, the tweet should display the following qualities: needs to stand on its own—I should not need to know about any prior content. It should also provide a good idea, interesting concept, or a helpful hint.

What are some other Twitter “pet peeves” that I missed? Leave a comment!

Game On: Social Media Ideas & Prizes for Libraries

Businesses have adapted to the social media landscape by offering up prizes and promotions through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other applications. Libraries, too, have joined in the mix. Last month, I posted on the COLLIB-L and PUBLIB-L discussion lists looking for ideas that libraries are using with social media. Specifically, I wanted to know what types of promotions, contests, or prizes that libraries do for such activities as:

  • Friending the library on Facebook
  • Following the library on Twitter
  • Checking-in at the library on Foursquare (or becoming “mayor”), or similar check-in apps, etc.

What follows are suggestions and ideas from libraries (and thank you to those that responded!):

  • McCain Library at Agnes Scott College in Georgia holds regular “Tuesday Trivia” contests. Trivia questions are posted to the library’s blog, and also promoted through its Facebook page. The library director told me, “Questions are posted on Tuesdays and the first person with the correct answer wins prizes such as donated theatre tickets, coffee shop gift cards, flash drives/similar swag collected at conferences, etc.”
  • A public library in California is also thinking of doing a trivia contest. For example, a monthly trivia contest might ask patrons to search the library’s online databases for the answer, and post it to the library’s Facebook page. Winners would receive a prize, or be entered in a raffle.
  • Mudd Library at Lawrence University in Wisconsin has experimented with posing questions on its Facebook page and sending prizes via campus mail to those who answer (prizes such as carabineers, mugs, and notebooks). On Foursquare, the library runs a check-in promotion with users: anyone checking in three times at the library on Foursquare wins a mini-notebook and pen.
  • The Kansas City Public Library (another one my fave public library’s on Twitter) held a Twitter Trivia Contest relating to famous catchphrases and slogans that complimented a lecture at the library by an author who writes on the same topic. Winners received a copy of the author’s book. Also, check out their promotion/contest via Facebook and Twitter to meet LeVar Burton. Great ideas!
  • McMaster University Library in Canada attracted new followers to its Twitter account by sponsoring a contest where users tweet how they use the library. Winner received an external hard drive as a prize.
  • Provo City Library in Utah sponsored a Facebook contest relating to an author that was speaking at the library. Users were asked to post a Facebook comment about the author & why they liked the book. Winner received tickets to the author’s lecture and a collection of books.
  • As for prizes, I was contacted by In My Book, which makes bookmarks. Worth a look!

Does your library offer any promotions or specials with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, or other social media applications? What kinds of of prizes or “freebies” do you pass out? Post it to the comments section below!

Back to the Future: A Library/Technology Lesson from 1983

Heading up to my office, I noticed this little nugget hanging on the bulletin board by the staff elevator:

Microcomputers for Libraries

“Microcomputers are most certainly the key to the future.”

Wow! Now this is why I stay away from making technology predictions. The book is: Microcomputers: How Useful are They? Written by Jane Beaumont and Donald Krueger, it was published in 1983 by the Canadian Library Association. According to WorldCat, there are still 214 libraries that hold this book–well, make that 213. The reason it was spotlighted on our bulletin board is that it’s headed to the “withdraw” pile.

Inside, the preface is a bit chuckle-inducing:

In January 1981, I was discussing career prospects for information specialists with a colleague. He ominously discussed the impending demise of librarians who fail to recognize and respond to new technologies. “Microcomputers,” he emphasized, “are most certainly the key to the future.”

…I sensed my curiosity being whetted by his cogent contentions and my ears succumbing to his stentorian tones. No doubt I encountered feelings which are not unique, a vague professional malaise and a timid personal hesitation which might have indicated a desire for change restrained by fear of personally initiating it.

Despite the laughs, the premise still holds true today: libraries and librarians must adapt to new technologies. However, I think “adapting” to new technologies places us in a reactive mode when we need to be in an active mode. This point has been most exemplified with the recent decision by HarperCollins to restrict its e-book lending to only 26 check-outs before the license expires. The Twitterverse exploded on Friday with tweets (search Twitter for #hcod)  from angry librarians (completely justified, btw) responding to the new terms of service.

But how do we get from being reactive to active? The Librarian in Black blog is a good starting point. Check out posts on eBook User’s Bill of Rights and Library eBook Revolution, Begin. Short of getting a librarian appointed to corporate boards of publishing companies, what else can we do? Lobbying publishing companies, educating authors and e-book readers, partnering with the American Library Association, promoting changes in digital rights management and copyright law all come to mind. A boycott of HarperCollins now started, too. Beyond protests, I’d like to know from librarians as to what concrete steps can be taken. I’m not an expert in this, but would like to be a part of the solution. Let me know!