or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Being Personal and Professional on Twitter

   May 12th, 2011 Brian Herzog

At the NHLA conference last week, I was lucky enough to attend a talk on using Twitter by Twitter for Dummies author Leslie Poston (a.k.a. @leslie).

The talk was great, and the part I found most interesting were her guidelines about what to say, what not too say, and how to draw a line between being personal and professional online. This included my favorite advice:

Tweet on Twitter about Tweeting

I think toeing this line is easy on the library's Twitter account/blog/flickr/et. al. - the topics there are always library business, but in a friendly and engaging way. My goal is to be personable, not personal. The trickier area is with personal accounts, which are read by both personal friends and professional colleagues.

In my own head, I drew a distinct line between what I post here (on SwissArmyLibrarian.net) and what I post on my @herzogbr Twitter account. The blog is professional (well, mostly-professional), and the Twitter account is personal - hence choosing @herzogbr as my username. I don't know if anyone else noticed it, but it's the rule I try to follow.

But @leslie's talk got me thinking, and so did a recent blog post by @LibrarianE13 on this very topic. Which also reminded me that Jessamyn West solved the problem by dividing and conquering - she has a personal @jessamyn Twitter account, and a separate @librariandotnet for librarian.net library-related things.

Since doing what Jessamyn does is often a sound strategy, last week I created a new Twitter account just for Swiss Army Librarian stuff: @SwissArmyLib (drat that @SwissArmyLibrarian was too long). I'm using Twitterfeed to automatically tweet new blog posts, so if you'd like to follow* my posts via Twitter, now you can. I'm not sure if I'll use that account for anything else, but if I do it'll be totally library-related.

Having a separate account for personal stuff and for professional stuff theoretically should eliminate cross-over confusion, but things easily get mixed and mashed-up online. I am a bit leery of maintaining two accounts, because it seems like twice the effort. Which is another point @leslie made: with multiple accounts, it'll quickly become obvious whether you enjoy personal tweeting or professional tweeting, because the one you enjoy less will get less attention and quickly feel like a chore. I'm curious to see what happens with mine.

 


*I also recently added a follow-by-email feature, which is part of Google's Feedburner.



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Reference Question of the Week – 10/31/10

   November 6th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Do you ever wonder how I spend my Saturday nights? Why, advocating library services, of course - here's a Twitter conversation that occurred last weekend about 10pm (read from the bottom up):

Twitter conversation

The two points I'd like to make about this are:

  1. Libraries provide free and legal access to things patrons might otherwise "improvise" access* to. But that is only marginally helpful because...
  2. ...the target audience for many library services don't always (or ever) think of the library as a source. So how do we promote ourselves to bring patron and service together? That is frustrating.

I felt pretty good after this exchange, and the patron was happy to not violate copyright to get the content he wanted. Until now I've been pretty passive about this, but perhaps it's time to more deliberate about engaging in "social reference."

Incidentally: I saw his tweet because I have a Twitter search rss feed for the word "library" in any tweet within 10 miles of Chelmsford. That picks up people outside of town, but we get a lot of non-residents in my library, so it all evens out. Besides, on the internet, all reference is local.

 


*I get daily traffic to my website from Google searches such as "overdrive media hacks," so people are definitely looking to improvise.



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