Tag Archives: social media

Types of library Twitter accounts

Pew Research have published a new infographic on the “six structures of Twitter conversation networks“.

infographic of Pew's six types of Twitter conversations - link above also has full report

Looking at this, I realised that number 6 – the “out-hub and spoke” shape, a “support network” where the organisation responds to complaints and requests – is how I’d always envisaged a successful library Twitter account to be. Lots of conversations, with lots of users, yay! One of our followers tweets a question about 3D biological models and I can share a link of something I saw mentioned at VALA – it feels pretty good (and apparently made him happy too). —But as the text points out, these are still disconnected users.

What I now think might be a better(*) structure for a library Twitter account is something more like number 2 – the “unified” “tight crowd”. That is, where the library isn’t the centre of the universe, using Twitter as yet another medium in which to guard gates. Instead it’s one member of a group of equal members who all just have conversations with each other.

Fortunately this revelation ties in nicely with my unofficial policy of only following back people who are part of the group(s) we want to be part of. (Staff, students, other departments, local community groups.)

This has paid off pretty well because one such group where I work is actively developing a great wee tight-knit network, and by keeping an ear to that conversation we’ve been able to just slip on in. So they were organising a “Twitter for Academics” session and in preparation one of them asked for top tips to share. I said that what you see on Twitter depends on who you follow. Other people said other things. The library’s not just answering a question: we’re taking part in a conversation (which subsequently got storified).

So if you asked me today my top tip for twittering libraries, I’d say: Don’t just try to start conversations. Also find the conversations that are already happening and join in(**).

(*) Someday I need to blog about “good”, “better” and “best”. Short version, I think the words are actually meaningless unless you’ve answered the questions “Good at doing what?” and/or “Good for who?” Note that I’m not actually answering these questions in this post. Really the best structure depends on what your goal is.

(**) This raises as much as ever the question of “When is this proactive community engagement and when is this creepy stalkerish behaviour?” I think you’re safe if the conversation has a hashtag; pretty safe if there are otherwise a large amorphous group of people discussing something; and likely safe if someone is asking a question to the world at large, but you’re going to have to use your own judgement to figure out if they’re actually intending to ask the world at large or just their friends.

Professional development in the social media age #vala14 #s36

Holley Adams, Hugh Rundle and Hannah Munn ‘I read this thing’: bringing professional development into the social media age

The problem they thought they were solving was not seeing engagement of staff with printed journals.
Subscribe to lots of LIS print journals/magazines – routing slips for circulation, lots of inefficiencies, cost, stafftime. Most available on ProQuest/EBSCO and accessible by RSS/email alerts but staff don’t really use them for professional learning. Staff also less aware of open access resources. And print is at odds with sustainability issues.

Some turned to Twitter, following blogs, reading articles online. Some exasperated with slow routing. Some just didn’t bother. In discussing issues, questions arose:
* What are staff reading?
* Where?
* Do they share? How can we do this?
* Do they belong to communities?
* Do they discuss them? Can we capture this?
* How do people bring ideas back to teams?
* How to oldies recruit/engage those getting started?

More they talked, more they realised they needed a new model – otherwise solving last century’s model with this century’s tools. Want everyone to learn, contribute to peer reviewed articles and general chatter. Want to increase discussion about current thinking in LIS.

“Student teachers were most successful at learning when they blended their online learning with existing communities of practice” (Mackey and Evans)
“For informal learning, professionals should be located together, have time set aside for learning, and have internet access” (Lohman)

Wanting to create a workplace learning network.

Many staff building personal learning networks but needed a solution that gave all staff something they could use comfortably/easily. Tension between wanting open network and some staff being anxious about work/personal convergence. Ideally familiar to staff and easy to use. Decided they didn’t need one perfect tool – needed an ecosystem of tools.

  • WordPress blog “I read this thing” so there’d be a central place for the project and a place to aggregate other social media about it. Lots of early posts about setting up RSS feeds and blogs to follow. When traffic dropped, added RSS widget to intranet which has worked well.
  • Twitter hashtag #coblspd (maybe not so easy to remember but avoids namespace collision of first choice). Excellent for sharing links to info. Only a handful have used hashtag and is increasing. More would be using it if only they could remember what it was!
  • Set up a Yammer group – closed environment for those who don’t want to be out in the world.

Launched staff survey to get idea of existing reading/writing. Found out most staff doing lots of self-directed learning – mostly online. What they needed was a better way of sharing that learning. (Will rerun survey again soon to see if any difference compared to half a year ago.)

Structure of “benevolent anarchy”. Some facilitators but hoping that will one day become unnecessary. Still leading people to this sharing model. Ten staff contacted them about journal routing and said they want less print and would rather access online. A handful have contacted about setting up RSS and joining MOOCs. Slightly larger group using hashtag. (Others sharing things and forgetting hashtag.) Lots of staff reading blog – want to draw them out to sharing.

No-one’s used Yammer, probably because has never been incorporated into any workplace structure/routine. Many don’t know it exists or think it’s a waste of time. “Social media that only lets you talk to your colleagues is a little weird.” So instead they send an email roundup of tweets – this has raised awareness of project. (Staff are busy and sometimes need to be reminded.)

Biggest discovery is richness of staff sharing, often just happening in quiet ways.


  • survey your staff to get a baseline
  • ask about preferred delivery method
  • look for combination of tools that work for your workplace. Don’t just copy/paste from another organisation
  • don’t be afraid to make changes if/when something doesn’t work
  • Always Be Collecting Data – eg link shortener that lets you track clicks (what clicked on and from which delivery method)
  • Q: Curious about decision to not use learning management tool.
    A: Wanted it to be open, relatively unstructured. Learning management tools too closed and complex: hard to administer, have to talk to IT, staff needing to learn how to use new thing. Wanted it to be more about sharing than a formal learning process.

    Q: Were management open to this or did they have to be convinced?
    A: Technically Hugh’s part of management team but project came out of pub discussion. Talked to manager but would have done it regardless of what manager had said anyway!

    Q: Did you have to do staff training?
    A: Yes and no. A bit disappointed at takeup – but then readership stats are encouraging. Need to talk to people one-on-one to find out why they’re not using Twitter, are they using other tools. So no training yet, but will do one-on-one.
    Q: Can we reuse your content?
    A: Yes.

    Q: Have you considered a bookmarking tool like Diigo?
    A: Yeah. But gets nervous about these because has seen too many die. But could be a tool to bring in. Very easy to integrate into other platforms.

    Comment: Is a casual staff member who discovered this (without context) from link on intranet.

    Q: What about old-fashioned brownbagging it?
    A: Considered it and then got too busy. But on the ‘would be nice’ list.

Think social #vala14 #s20 #s21

Wendy Abbott, Jessie Donaghey, Joanna Hare and Peta Hopkins The perfect storm: the convergence of social, mobile and photo technologies in libraries

Looking at libraries’ use of Instagram and photosharing. Identified 74 libraries in April/May 2013 – seems to be early days compared to Facebook. Broke down to a few special libraries (eg Smithsonian) but mostly public (slight majority) and academic.

Survey sent to 65 libraries that could find contacts for, 29 responded. 15 agreed to individualised followup and 10 in fact followed up. Also used Nitrogram to monitor 20 library Instagram account over 4 weeks. Took ten most-ilked images from Nitrogram images – turned out that identity and affective were more important than functional images.

Libraries don’t target specific groups – just anyone and everyone with Instagram account.
Issues: having trouble coming up with content to share. Some found it hard to share responsibility among staff since it’s a mobile platform; also issues editing images. Most libraries use staff personal equipment. Public libraries more likely to use employer equipment.
Most libraries share across multiple platforms. Found visual content got better engagement than verbal updates.
Less than 50% provided training – usually self-directed or in-house social media training.
Uncertainty of how much to follow/interact with students. Would be good if there were norms!

UCLA Powell image of tree that fell down, with Harry Potter spin because undergrads often refer to library as Hogwarts – very individualised to their population.
Emily Carr Uni library use same background for all images to create cohesive style
Public Libraries of Singapore – pets with books
Los Angeles County Public Library – connect with shared love of local sports team
Melbourne University Library – dolls in library
Some have very specific uses – eg educating re cuts to library budgets, or promoting maker space, or promoting photo archives.
“Library selfies (and shelfies)” – used to construct identity. Often want to construct friendly identity for library.

Thinking about goals:

  • what your message is
  • think about your target audience overall and how that might differ per image
  • how you want to engage your audience
  • how you’ll evaluate
  • how the images will be used and where they’ll appear

Data and paper online

Q: Any licensing issues?
A: Not an issue for us because creating own images. Used a Creative Commons image once – just add attribution over the top or underneath so not an issue.

Q: Would some places have issues with their PR office?
A: Didn’t cover in their research because only surveyed places that already had accounts.

Kathleen Smeaton and Kate Davis Is it Tweet-worthy? Privacy in a time of sharing

“Content forwarding” for retweeting without adding own content/analysis/critique, and for conference tweeting of the “Kate just said” variety.

52 participants completed survey, all in full. 32 consented to being followed via social media for a week – actually only chose 12. Respondents from students, graduates, deputy university librarian. Most had one account, a few had more than two. Most self-reported lower than they actually tweeted. Likewise self-reported professional tweeting as higher than actually tweeted. 64% said would tweet on controversial topics. 85% identify profession in profile – important part of online identity. 22% identify org in profile and 50% identify in tweets.

Tweets on controversial topics almost always liberal. Are there few conservative librarians or are they just very quiet? OTOH mostly tweeting about controversial topics were retweets, not original tweets – evidence of some tentativeness.

Approaches to tweeting can change over time, often more relaxed once involved in tweeting community. Work and life collide – unless deliberately separate identities they merge together. “Context collapse” can be a concern when associate yourself with organisation. Many tweet personal beliefs; many tweet for organisation on own personal account. What are the impacts on governance? Most tweeting librarians are wise to risks and take a commonsense response. Organisations need an appropriate flexible policy in place – loosen up and trust professionalism of staff.

Lots of livetweeting, forwarding content. Two thirds of professional content was content forwarding. 15 tweets from 4 participants gave a professional opinion on something. Unwilling to put forward a professional opinion even if willing to raise controversial non-library topics. Is it safer to talk about politics than library policy?

86% of tweets were replies to a conversation. Building relationships. Some only tweeted professionally with no tea-table banter. “Informers” share information with goal of cultivating followers and relationships, while “Me-formers” share info about themselves. Not everyone wants to indulge in disclosure about shoes and cats – but this is valuable for building relationships. Disclosure seems to be the main catalyst for conversation.

Useful professional tool, perhaps because of personal discussions.

Social media as an agent of socio-economic change #vala14 p2

Johan Bollen Social media as an agent of socio-economic change: analytics and applications

World we live in increasingly about online connections. First computer had 1KB RAM and programmable by BASIC. Now can wake up parents in Belgium by FaceTime. Data from 2012 2.4billion internet users worldwide (15.6% Africa to 78.6% North America, 67.6% Oceania/Australia). Amount of online content staggering.

Facebook, LiveJournal, Twitter… We’re not using these networks to broadcast – they’re to collaborate socially. Many-to-many. Generates content and establishes social relations — collaboratively.

Displays xkcd cartoon re ubiquity of phones and map of usage of Twitter and Flickr. Visualising languages spoken; what things are being downloaded. Using Twitter to map discussion of beer vs church. And using it to monitor outbreaks of flu.

Wikipedia using collaboration to create content. Estimize using it to predict markets.
“Prevailing pessimism about large groups collaborating in a productive manner, absent central authority, may not be justified.” From the “madness of crowds” (wacky ideas) to “the wisdom of crowds”. On “Who wants to be a millionaire”, asking an expert gets it right 65%, asking the audience 91% right. When you ask people questions they have to guestimate an answer to, “the average of two guesses from one individual was more accurate than either guess alone”.

Galton (1907), Nature, 1949(75):450-451 – aggregating judgements of people of weight of dressed ox got within 1% of accuracy.
Condorcet Jury Theorem (1785) – even if jurors individually are rarely right, going for a majority vote the chance of being right approaches unity.
Collective intelligence – birds flocking, ants finding food.

We have telescopes to look at huge things, microscopes to look at tiny things – we need a macroscope to look at really complex things: this is computational social science studying data generated by social media. Network analysis. Natural language processing.

Epictetus “Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things”.

Sentiment analysis. eg “Affective Norms for English Words” rated along valence, arousal and dominance, OpinionFinder, SentiWordnet. We understand individual emotions well, not so much collective emotions. Diagram charting fluctuations in collective mood based on Twitter feeds; correlating with market fluctuations – discovered that the Twitter ‘calm’ mood correlated with increase in DOW three days in advance 85%. Other results have largely confirmed this using Google trends, using dataset from LiveJournal posts.

Where does collective emotion come from? Is it more than the sum of individual emotions? Do sad people flock together or do they make each other sad? Homophily (bird of a feather) prevalent in social networks. People connected to lots of people tend to be connected to other people who are connected to lots of people. (Ie the popular kids hang out with each other.) Image of political homophily on Twitter. So does mood act in the same way? Looked at reciprocal following on Twitter. Found small cluster of negative-emotion users, and larger cluster of positive-emotion users. (Don’t know where causation is.) The closer the friendship, the more reliable this was.

Application to bibliometrics: got rejected from journals so published on arXiv and got massively read and within a month cited. So looked at arXiv papers and found a weak correlation between Twitter mentions and early citations. But the problem with altmetrics: the biggest nodes are the media, big blogs etc. The number mentions doesn’t matter as who is mentioning.

Radical proposal for funding science (developed over alcohol-fueled Christmas party grumps about writing funding proposals). (Motto: “What would the aliens say?”) Fund people not projects. Science as gift-economy. Encourage innovation. Change scholarly incentives for the better. Congress should give money to scientific community – every scientist gets an equal chunk, but you have to donate a certain percentage to anyone you want (who have to donate a percentage of what they’ve received). Would lead to an uneven “but fair” distribution. [My criticism: would be susceptible to issues of implicit bias against women, people of colour, etc. However don’t know if it’d be more or less susceptible to these problems than the current system is.] Ran a simulation using network data: when F=0.5 it matches the distribution by the NSF and NIH.

Q: Risk of feedback loops?
A: Yes – citing hacking of Twitter account to post about bombs in White House leading to massive market shorting – not just people getting freaked out, algorithms getting freaked out. Positive feedback loops bad news – hopefully can set up things so instead you’ll get negative feedback loops that lead to homeostasis. Can only mitigate problems by understanding how things work.

Beyond social #ndf2012

Beyond Social
DK @justadandak
If social (media) is no longer the new shiny set of tools that everyone gasps at then what are the next set of questions? In this fast-paced session, DK will balance his presentation with overarching cross-sector ‘big picture’ strategies right through to platform-specific tools and techniques which deliver.
DK (yes, just a D and a K) is a social media advisor who has helped people like UNICEF, BBC, the Gates Foundation, Welsh National Assembly etc. He lives on the internet at justadandak.com. @justadandak

Not going to talk about “Why Twitter is cool” because assumes we already know that.

Shows interactive TV from 1953 Winky Dink where kids had printouts and at some point in show it told them to join the dots.

April 20th someone became first person to edit Wikipedia 1,000,000 times – rewarded by Wikipedia with a day named for him.

Quick dirty simple ideas for museums (people are already aggregating stuff for you- why not borrow/steal/embed existing work?). Problem is at conference people get excited and then realise they have to go back to work.

“Culture eats strategy for lunch” – Peter Drucker. We need a culture that embraces social media – it’s not one person’s job. Doesn’t mean everyone needs a Twitter account, but everyone needs to embrace idea.

(Lots of animated gifs in this slideshow.)

We need to become a lot more curious about other people’s work. Not just within GLAM but outside the sector. Social media lets us do that with RSS feeds.

Currently we think of our website as a destination. But the most popular places on the planet are not destinations, they’re intersections. Google’s popular but we don’t go there to stay there – we go there to go somewhere else. Same with Twitter. We should be an “intersection of amazingness”.

“Trust people to know that there’s a back button on their browser.”

Recommends Rework by Fried. DK wrote notes as read it summarising it, posted to blog. Two weeks later retweeted by author (who “could have gone a different way with that”) and got tens of thousands of hits on his blog – and was then remixed by someone else adding colour; and then someone in Sweden remixed that into a more corporate-style format. Nothing the author could have planned!

Ideas – “Social media Tuesday” once a month for social media geeks to get together over lunch and share – build culture

For a long time Mr Potato was sold without the potato because they assumed you already had one.

Clip of William Gibson talking about how we can get a bit “iPads, meh. gene therapy, whatever” about the present. DK says instead of looking forward to future, should sometimes focus on using the cool stuff that already exists.

Could ask us “Who’s got a social media strategy?” and hands would go up. But what if he asked “Who’s got a cultural strategy?”

Belated notes from ITSIG #lianza11

[I’d dumped my laptop back at the hotel to recharge (and give my hands a rest) before coming to the ITSIG workshop but ended up writing some notes longhand – all without attribution, sorry.]

To define a social media policy, you need to know why you’re doing it, who for, and what values you want to uphold. (I noted this especially because it reminded me of the planning process that I got out of Sally’s Project Management workshop.)

Libraries and publishers don’t understand each other and need to work together better. This is the point of view that HarperCollins are perfectly within their rights to insist on their 26-loan deal. An audience comment pointed out that we accept a lot of crap from publishers in terms of interfaces that even librarians can’t cope with, they’re so broken, let alone our users – should we just deal with it? The answer was yes and no – we have to buy the stuff (we can’t just tell our customers, “Sorry, you can’t have that super popular book because we’re having a tiff with the publisher”) but we do need to work with publishers to improve things.

[Personally, I think there are ways to phrase it that could leverage the customers’ unhappiness – eg, “Sorry, you can’t have that super popular book because the publisher broke it so it would take longer to set up your ereader to use it than it would to read it,” because honestly it’s not much more of an awkward conversation than, “Sorry our catalogue claims it’s available when the publisher’s removed it from their holdings,” or “Sorry the loan for this academic textbook you need to refer to regularly for the next few months expires after a mere four days,” or “Sorry the site claims getting this is a three step process when it actually requires installing and upgrading and more upgrading and escalating to various levels of library support.” None of these latter situations make us look any better – unless we explain it’s the publisher’s fault, people will still assume it’s the library’s fault, so why not go for broke?]

“Librarians don’t need training, they need to learn.” (I believe this got retweeted a few times.)

In training/learning sessions found library staff who couldn’t right-click, unfamiliar with installing software, nervous about Adobe signup. Users buying ereaders who struggle to find the on-button. (Or bought by people for parents.) We have to be engaged in helping with tech issues or we’ll become just a repository.

Also need to look at the challenge of getting other ebooks, eg from NZETC, downloadable by people whose devices are based around aps.

New Zealand libraries on Twitter (part 1)

[Edited 30/8 to add some more names and htmlise the @ links. Shall try not to edit further without extreme provocation. 🙂 ]

I tweeted that I was planning a blogpost about New Zealand libraries on Twitter, but neglected to mention that by “planning” I meant that I have all sorts of cool ideas about it in my head, the extraction of which generally depends on what other cool ideas I come up with in the meantime. This seems a bit unfair, so I decided at least I can blog this much so far, and hopefully having blogged a bit will inspire me to keep going.

So, I have a list of all the New Zealand libraries I’ve found on Twitter. (If I’ve missed one out, please let me know!) As of today, these break down to:

(Oh Access! The whole point of me typing this up in a database was so I could rearrange the information and copy/paste it out again! If I’d known you were going to be like this I’d have used Excel! –Hah, found the export function.)

Academic Libraries

Public Libraries
@Ed_Puke_Ariki (I think? or possibly should count as museum, for which I have another more haphazard list.)
[ETA @RotoruaLibrary]

School Libraries

Special Libraries
[ETA @L2_S2S]

Stuff that’s awesome but isn’t a library communicating with its users

I may remove have removed this last category from my list and will remove it from any further analysis I do.

Not all of these accounts are currently in use. Further analysis to follow in due course.

Socialising vs being sociable

A colleague pointed out that, Facebook being a social environment, academic libraries don’t really belong. (This post will mischaracterise our conversation terribly. My colleague wasn’t arguing that we shouldn’t be there; just… there’s a reason students laugh when we tell them that we are.)

I pointed to Christchurch MetroInfo’s successful Facebook page as a counterexample, but my colleague said that the buses are taking people to their friends and parties. Academic libraries, by and large, aren’t involved even this much in students’ social lives.

I conceded the point at the time but seeing the examples on these tips for effective Facebook community management crystallised my lingering reservations with the distinction. Getting stains out of your clothes cannot possibly be a more social activity than doing a group research project in the library!

On reflection, I think there is a distinction: between socialising and being sociable. Few students will want their library, bus company, or detergent brand commenting on photos from their latest holiday. But if people find it useful to have a space in which to share bus route suggestions or laundry tips away from their ordinary social groups, then why not study or research tips? And this is the kind of virtual community that a library can, I think, enable.

The question of course is how…

Links of Interest 23/8/2011 – What Students Don’t Know (and bonus marketing)

This has exploded onto the various networks I follow, so it seems a good time to gather some other links with it:

What students don’t know gives an overview of findings from an ethnographic study of how students at various Illinois universities research, and is a vital read for anyone in the academic environment working with students.

Related links:

Unrelated links, on marketing:

  • Gavia Libraria writes about all those times people say “So you’re a librarian? So… you… shelve books?…” and suggests Representing Ourselves by telling people what we do (in elevator pitch format – she gives examples) rather than waste time attempting to argue about stereotypes.
  • Mr Library Dude collects a bunch of Social Media Ideas & Prizes for Libraries from various libraries.

The fallacy of "push communication"

It’s actually been a while since I’ve heard people talk of push communication, so maybe I’m a day late and a dollar short on this, but I can’t help when I have my epiphanies.

The idea behind push communication (when I heard it, at least) is that instead of waiting for users to come to your website for news, you could push it out to them through, for example, an RSS feed.

Hands up those of you who, when you ask your users to put their hands up if they use an RSS reader, ever get anyone putting a hand up? No, nor do I. And this is the problem: if you’re pushing information out to somewhere that people don’t visit, you’re still asking them to pull it.

Even if you push it right to their email inbox, if they only check their email when their kids mention they’ve sent photos of their grandkids; or if you’re pushing it to their student email account and they only ever check their dotcom-mail if that; you’re still not going to be successful.

My phone company pushed an SMS message to my cellphone on the 28th July to say that my account’s going to expire next year, my terms and conditions have changed, and I can get a new phone on some special offer until the 31st July. I finally noticed this message on the evening of the 31st July.

I only listen to the radio in the aftermath of natural disasters. I have friends who (by choice) don’t even own a TV (I use mine so rarely I forget which buttons on the remote to press). There’s no guaranteed way to push your communication to all your users short of accosting them face-to-face, and even then, even if you offer candy, a measurable proportion will still avert their eyes and walk right past you.

Of course RSS is still a handy tool, because it lets you embed the feed in places where hopefully the users will go. We embed ours on the library homepage, some subject guides, and our Facebook page. But that just gets more users, not all. (The most common response when I tell students about our Facebook page is laughter. Sure we’ve got 900+ followers. But that leaves probably 18,000+ non-followers.) We can communicate all we like through these channels, but the majority of our users — even when they’re motivated to find out which buildings are open to be borrowed from/returned to this week — still don’t know what’s going on in the library until they get a library tutorial. (And in the last few weeks the attendance rate at my tutorials is running at about 2/3.)

Long story short, if you want a message to get to all or even most of your users, you’re going to have to push hard and you’re going to have to push really really smart.