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Reference Question of the Week – 6/21/09

   June 27th, 2009

Twitter @bloglinesThis week's reference question is one of my own. I use Bloglines to read rss feeds, and a couple weeks ago they changed their interface.

I didn't like the changes, so I used their Contact Form to express this and ask if there was an option to change it back. This was two weeks ago, and I still haven't gotten a reply.

Then it occurred to me that perhaps Bloglines used Twitter, and maybe I could ask them that way. I found an @bloglines user, but even though he's using the Bloglines logo, he indicates it's not an official Bloglines account.

I asked him my question anyway (noticing he was fielding the exact same question a lot lately), and got a reply in 5 hours. And best of all, his suggestion worked perfectly, and now I'm back to using Bloglines happily, the way that suits me best.

But this experience got me thinking. It's easy for organizations to let email messages slide, because only that one person knows they sent it in. But Twitter is public, and if someone is questioning or complaining, ignoring it won't make it go away.

Unofficial or not, @bloglines did exactly what I would have expected an organization to do - respond quickly and helpfully.

This is what librarians do, and it reminded me of Kate's post about their library suggestion box. I like that she's publicly displaying suggestions and answers, because in this case, one-to-many communication seems better than one-to-one.

So I thought, why not encourage patrons to use Twitter as a suggestion box? Being public, the library has to address patrons' concerns, but it also means all patrons can benefit from the answer, rather than just one.

I know a public forum isn't appropriate for every issue, and anonymity can be necessary, so I think traditional suggestion boxes (whether physical or online form) are still useful. But I bet there are some libraries already doing this very thing. I know I came late to Twitter, but it really is turning out to be a very useful tool after all.

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6 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 6/21/09”

  1. Nomad Librarian Says:

    Pikes Peak Library District (@ppld) uses it that way; they have a feed that monitors local twitter users for the word “library” and can respond to praise and criticism, even if patrons don’t go to the trouble of sending them an @ message.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Nomad: that’s a great idea (yay for advanced search) – I just added something similar to my bloglines (I wonder if mixing tech is like mixing metaphors?).

  3. Kate Says:

    Thanks for the link! I haven’t noticed a change in my Bloglines but perhaps I will be converted over later.

    I have tried Twitter and am really not finding it all that useful. Perhaps I need to explore more uses for it.

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Kate: I’m really kind of surprised that the most I use Twitter, the more uses I think of for it.

    And apparently the Bloglines change only affected the “Classic” users – I didn’t know there were different views, but you might be in the clear.

  5. Michelle Says:

    Our library has a twitter acct but the problem is remembering to log in! I’ve also noticed a bunch of spammers who “follow” us; so far the most work I’ve put into using twitter is in actively blocking these people so that our “real” followers aren’t potentially subjected to their spam.

    If we could remember to log in first thing each day, it could potentially be a great tool for a suggestion box. I still prefer our library’s Facebook page though. We have many more “fans” than twitter “followers.” What are your thoughts on Facebook as a suggestion box?

  6. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Michelle: I don’t have a Facebook account, so that is a whole section of the internet I know nothing about. Blasphemy, I know – any Facebook libraries with words of wisdom?