Guest post by Shona Thoma (@shinyshona), MLIS student UCD SILS, 2012-13
I read recently that to describe Twitter as ‘social media’ along with applications such as Facebook, is to vastly underestimate its power – and I would have to agree. Twitter is having a huge impact on the way that we exchange information, and I recently had the opportunity to experience this on a larger scale than I normally would with my personal account. I took over the Twitter account @VoicesLibrary, which is a Rotation Curation account, voiced by a new library professional each week. This was the first time that a Library and Information Studies student had curated the account, but given the interest in LIS courses and qualifications, Jo at Voices for the Library agreed that Tweets from a current student would be welcome.
As a student currently looking towards the jobs market I was interested in what working librarians had to say about the use of LIS qualifications in their current roles. I posed questions relating to this throughout the week and the wide community of information professionals following the account offered their views. Some felt that it was just a necessity, adding extra letters after their name. Others spoke about both the practical and theoretical lessons they were glad they had learnt. Looking at the responses would seem to confirm that as with most things in life, you get out as much as you are willing to put in. I don't know if I would ever have the opportunity to speak with people from such a broad spread of places about this in 'real' life. In addition, the succinct nature of Twitter can possibly attracted more contributors to a discussion as people don’t feel they need to expand on their point or get bogged down in detail. Ideas and opinions are quickly shared, making it an ideal breeding ground for further investigation.
In addition to exchanging information and ideas, I realised that Twitter is really useful for gauging the reactions people might have to topics. I shared an article about library marketing, which led to a debate on ‘marketing’ vs. ‘promotion’ as appropriate terms. It was interesting to see that people had quite strong opinions on terminology alone, let alone carrying it out. In relation to measuring reaction, Bitly proved to be really useful tool. You can input any web address to Bitly and it will make it shorter, thus saving characters; but it wasn't just space saving I found it useful for - it also records how many people visit the links you share. Not everyone will reply to a tweet, but via Bitly I could see that people were clicking through to the articles I shared.
Although followed by an international audience the @VoicesLibrary account is focused mainly on the UK. I think it would be fantastic to see a similar rotation curation account for Irish Information Professionals, promoting all aspects of what we do. It would be fantastic as a way of strengthening the librarianship network, and ideally would attract interest from non-librarians too!
*Guest blog posts represent the personal views of the poster and do not represent the official opinions or commentary of libfocus.com