August 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm #1258Paola BerettaParticipant
Twitter trends for reader’s advisory services
A reader’s advisory (RA) service is one of many reference services offered by libraries. In Library Services and Programs: The Fundamentals, 8th Edition the authors define RA broadly as ‘helping readers find what they want by recommending specific titles or types of titles’. RA has traditionally been conducted face-to-face as users approach librarians for suggestions and recommendations on what to read next. However, there is an increasing trend for such services to be available online via social media tools.
In 2013 Tarulli, Anwyll and Chawner conducted a small-scale study on the use of social media within the context of New Zealand public libraries. In part 1 they provided an overview of the types of social media tools used for RA services. Part 2 discusses the survey results in detail and identifies good practices for using social media in RA services.
The authors found that the three most used tools for RA were Facebook, Twitter and blogs. The main advantages of using social media are that librarians can communicate directly with users through free, popular and easy to use tools. Although both Facebook and Twitter provide a two-way communication mode between library and user, Tarulli, Anwyll and Chawner point out that Twitter is the one that provides the best way to have a one-to-one conversation with patrons.
RA services typically communicate information about new books and resources, recommendations, reviews and links to the catalogue or other library services. Librarians are able to answer individual user’s questions about titles and genres, and make recommendations based on user preferences and information needs.
In Twitter this must be done in 140 characters only, so a concise and targeted message must be crafted. This interaction can potentially create the conditions for the conversation to continue: besides becoming familiar with new resources, users may further engage with and discover other library services, programs and products. A skilled RA librarian can thus provide a high quality, customised library service that can potentially assist with continued user interest and participation.
Although written in 2009, this short article by Sarah Milstein is still an excellent resource that discusses how public and academic libraries use Twitter to reach out to their users. It includes a ‘Twittiquette for Institutions’, which highlights how Twitter is best used as a conversation tool rather than a broadcast medium. Milstein suggests that RA librarians can use Twitter as an effective conversation tool by encouraging followers to interact with the library. Asking questions, sharing links, re-Tweeting interesting posts from other users, and replying to messages are good ways of direct interaction with patrons following the library’s Twitter account.
As libraries continue to increase their online presence and availability to patrons via social media, it is worth following developments in RA. After all librarians want to ensure that Ranganathan’s five laws continue to ring true, in particular:
‘Every reader his or her book’ and ‘Every book its reader’.
August 23, 2015 at 11:18 pm #1326Kirsty RobertsParticipant
Great post, Paola!
I had no idea that RA services were so prevalent on Twitter (or social media, for that matter) so it was particularly interesting for me to read your reflection. It’s quite interesting to see how successful Twitter has been as a platform especially since, as you note, you’re restricted to 140 characters at a time.
August 25, 2015 at 8:46 pm #1388Shannon FranzwayParticipant
I enjoyed this post, thanks Paola!
I did find it slightly amusing that in Sarah Milstein’s article, the verb was referred to as twittering back in the dark ages of 2009 🙂 We’ve come a long way in such a short time!
August 26, 2015 at 7:47 pm #1395Ruth McConchieParticipant
Thanks Paola! I also didn’t know about the prevalence of Twitter as a Readers Advisory Tool. I thought your point about one of the benefits of Twitter is that the conversation can continue was quite pre-emptive, especially in relation to what we are learning about this week, the participatory library. I think it’s a nice way for librarians to talk to one another too 😃.
August 30, 2015 at 4:39 pm #1511Stacey LarnerModerator
I reckon that’s a fantastic use for Twitter. Great reflection!
October 6, 2015 at 2:14 pm #2328Chris SonneveldParticipant
Thank you for a very information post. The Twitter Chats we have been having throughout this course highlights how effective Twitter can be for a way of accessing useful information and a range of users. I can see how it is useful to library patrons as it allows people who may not have the time or live close to visit their local library. It is useful to libraries as it provides access to these these types patrons but also opens up communication channels to patrons who do not find face-to-face contact comfortable. The time effort put into developing these channels is definitely beneficial to any library’s greater community as long as it’s patrons are aware of, have access to and are skilled in using this type of service.
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