Early in June, members of the Newsam Library & Archives met to discuss ways to better promote our services and collections to our users via Twitter. @IOELibrary joined Twitter in June 2011 and has gathered about 625 followers. We wanted to get a team, representing all the different sections in the Library (Collection Development, User Services, Technical Services and Administration), that would take responsibility for tweeting for @IOELibrary. We had no special requirements for the staff. They didn’t need to be experienced users of Twitter. We simply wanted interested people who had interesting things to say.
In our two workshops, we played an adapted version of a game produced by Ann Grand, Helen Donelan and Clem Herman at the Open University. They had tweeted about their workshop on researchers and social media and I was alerted by the IOE’s public engagement team (aka @IOE_Engagement) on Twitter. Ann & co used their game to start researchers talking about how they used all sorts of social media; our version focussed on good practice and/or good etiquette (Twittiquette?) on Twitter.
The feedback from the sessions has been positive. There was a buzz in the room and everyone looked like they were having fun. Certainly, there were some interesting discussions among the players. @FrancesShipsey, our Acquisitions & Serials Librarian, said:
I found the workshop fun and engaging. Having to decide how many steps we should move forward helped us to think honestly about where we would put ourselves on a the scale in terms of being Twitter-capable. We … had some in-depth and useful discussions. Sitting round the table over a board game just fostered the right kind of lively atmosphere.
Dan O’Connor (aka @danjamesoc) , our Senior Library Assistant for Official Publications, who is a regular tweeter, said:
Firstly I thought the statements on the cards were an absolutely excellent method of really encouraging some critical thinking about how we engage with Twitter. They provoked discussion and debate amongst the group, and even where opinions were divided, there was a realisation that our approach to social media deserves greater scrutiny.
I would say that the idea of snakes and ladders was quite effective; however the level of debate that accompanied each card meant that that the game itself faded into the background and I think we only managed one turn each! …the very fact that the group engaged so willingly with the task illustrated how effective the activity was in providing a real springboard for discussion. Personally I gained some real insight into the multitude of ways that people engage with Twitter.
Although most of the team are ready to jump on the Twitter bandwagon (the two stalwart tweeters for @IOELibrary are @RozzEvans and @NazlinBhimani), we have a bit of a setback since the two workshops.
Almost all the participants are fans of University Challenge, which is hosted by the fabulous Jeremy Paxman. In an interview with Jon Snow, his last before bowing out of Newsnight, Paxo said that Twitter is for people who have “nothing going on between their ears, or nothing going on in their lives”.
I suspect we may need to have a pep talk with the team at our next training session. I can just hear Paxo saying, “You mean to say… you mean to say … you are going to tweet despite what I said? Do you not have anything better to do with your life?!!” Yes, Jeremy, much as we love you and will miss you, life goes on and Twitter is here to stay!