Twitter & Librarianship

Recently, I’ve found myself reflecting on how librarians use Twitter as a source for professional development, encouragement, and support. (I’ve discovered that everything become researchable once you begin a doctoral program.) For me, Twitter is a professional tool. I use it to solely as a way to engage with librarians, libraries, researchers, and colleagues. I’ve only been actively engaged with Twitter for just over one year. During this time, I’ve participated in librarian related discussions, such as #libchat, and watched library trends rise and fall. I feel more connected to libraries and librarians through my Twitter use even though I’m not currently working in libraries. Unlike Facebook, which I consider my “personal” social media profile, there’s a strong sense of community among librarians and libraries on Twitter. A similar sense of community exists on Tumblr, FriendFeed, and to a lesser extent, Facebook (at least for me). I’m sure there are more examples of librarian communities on social media, but I can only be engaged so much.

The librarian community looks slightly different on each social media platform depending on the users, capabilities of the platform, and how engaged its users are. I’m addicted (in a professional way) to Twitter. The conversations on Twitter move quickly, are more focused (perhaps because of the character limitations), and encourage participation outside of a narrow set of users. It feels as though users are engaged in real time, dynamic discussions within a group of people. I’ve experienced this in a limited way on Facebook as part of the ALA Think Tank group. Yet, for me, Facebook is more exclusive and geared towards drop-in discussions (I’m thinking of discussion boards). This isn’t a  critique of Facebook, but just an observation and something to reflect on.

I’ve become fascinated with the controversies, uproars, and hypes that can spring up on Twitter. If you are part of a community or network for a decent amount of time, you can watch these events rise and fall from beginning to end. Last Thursday, Rainie (2014) from the Pew Research Center discussed the six types of Twitter conversations. This report inspired me to think about how the trends, hypes, controversies, etc. could be classified in the librarian Twitter community or even if they could fall neatly into one type. I’ve spent some time attempting to figure out where the conversations within this community would fit best. My guess is ‘tight crowds’, especially during conferences and other organized events. But then again, when disagreements occur within the librarian community, could this conversation be considered ‘divided’. Are these conversation categories all or nothing? Can a community shift from one to another or balance between two types? What type of Twitter conversation is missing from this list (if any)?

References

Rainie, L. (2014, March 20). The six types of Twitter conversations. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/20/the-six-types-of-twitter-conversations/.

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