I have two goals for this blog post, dear reader: to persuade librarians who are already tweeting to join a community using #iamalibrarian and to persuade librarians who are not on Twitter to at least read the tweets of this community.
If you are not on Twitter, I suggest you start by being a lurker. Lurkers read what other “ordinary-but-extraordinary” librarians write on Twitter.
Lurking is like sitting in the audience of a conference hall. The main difference between live conferences and Twitter, though, is that anyone can tweet, so you can learn from other librarians as they hash out new ideas, describe their work, promote their accomplishments, share articles or jokes, ask questions, and advocate for the profession.
There has never been a better time for librarians to lurk on Twitter. You do not have to identify librarians specific to follow, or even have your own Twitter account. (You can see the live Twitter feed below or search for the hashtag at twitter.com/search). A community of librarians from all over the world, working in a variety of settings, are all using #iamalibrarian as metadata (i.e. data that describes and gives information about other data). It’s easy to collate all the tweets using #iamalibrarian so that lurkers and others can easily see the tweets described with that hashtag.
After you lurk for a while, maybe you will decide to be a little more active. Then you can become an echo-er on Twitter. You can make an account and retweet other librarians. Retweeting is literally clicking a button, but it is an effective way to network: people will remember you because you liked what they had to say so much that you wanted to share it with others.
Once you’re this deep into Twitter, you may want to become a tweeter. Every once in a while, at least, you will have a question, or something original to add to the conversation. You, too, will know the joys of having a voice in the conversation. (I, for one, am both an echo-er and a tweeter. I like to both promote good content and be heard.)
Librarians are starting to form a community around the hashtag
Librarians and other information professionals began tweeting with #iamalibrarian six months ago, in November, 2016. Since then, the community has grown, and is now as diverse as the profession.
#iamalibrarian Tweet Activity for May 15 - 19, 2017
- 60 unique accounts tweeted using the hashtag
- More than 80 tweets were labeled with the hashtag
- The tweets show a lot of engagement – Retweets, Replies, and Favorites – showing that the community is active and librarians are supporting each other
- Tweets were from individuals working in a variety of sendings: public and school libraries, medical libraries, charitable foundations, law firms, and academic librarians
- Accounts from institutions and libraries also tweeted
- Accounts were based internationally, including the United States, UK, Ireland, Australia and Cuba
The content of their tweets are as diverse as their profession.
Librarians tweet about …
What they did at work that day (@carrieprice78)
Their accomplishments (@danavlema)
Quotes from people supportive of libraries
Requests for information
The tweets above are obviously relevant to both individuals and the entire profession. The content of these tweets shows that librarians are truly engaged and helping each other. They also show engagement and support on Twitter as a communication tool – note the number of retweets on each of the tweets above.
#iamalibrarian: The original story and the sequel
Dawn Finch (@dawnafinch) started the hashtag #iamalibrarian in November, 2016. I have also been advocating for it since 2015, when I was inspired by doctors who practice Emergency Medicine. Their movement is called FOAM, or Free Open Access Medical Education (the hashtag is #FOAMed.)
Emergency Medicine physicians tag everything with #FOAMed – podcasts, blogs, Tweets, Facebook groups, even in-person conferences. There are weekly blog posts compiling the best of the conversation that week. I once traced a single idea from a podcast, to a blog, to an intense discussion on various social media channels to a peer reviewed article. I presented this information at the SLA New York conference.
#iamalibrarian is moving in the same direction as #FOAMed.
For example, the tweet embedded above requesting the effect of coffee shops on footfall to the library, identifies a potential gap in the literature. The retweets and replies show interest in the topic. This blog post that you are reading right now will reach other librarians, including, perhaps, a librarian with a coffee shop who has collected the information that was requested. This conversation that began on social media may then blossom into a peer-reviewed paper, which will then be tweeted and blogged about. The question about coffee shops will have come full circle to the medium it originated from.
On his blog, Mike Cadogan speculates why emergency medicine is so involved on social media: “Maybe it is because a lot of our work is frontline, public, diverse and altruistic. There are myriad stories to be told and many educational resources being shared freely and without reservation using the language of FOAM.”
Who does THAT sound like?
If you are interested in beginning to tweet, make an account and start tweeting! Remember that all tweets are public. Think before you tweet – would you want a potential employer to read what you are writing?
When you tweet, include #iamalibrarian hashtag so your tweets can be found by other librarians: Use up to 2 hashtags. Research has shown that engagement increases with 2 hashtags, but decreases after 2 hashtags. (https://blog.bufferapp.com/a-scientific-guide-to-hashtags-which-ones-work-when-and-how-many)
Engage with other librarians: Support other librarians in the community. Following, replying and retweeting are the best methods of supporting others. You can also follow other librarians who are tweeting with the hashtag. (In my opinion, there is no need to worry about following too many people https://medium.com/@PodcastLib/twitter-how-many-accounts-should-you-follow-13445aa394b6) In short, following other librarians is a sign of support – you can always find tweets by searching the hashtag
Promote #iamalibrarian outside of Twitter If you have a blog, podcast, Facebook page, consider using #iamalibrarian as metadata, or writing about the hashtag. Your posts will be found by others, and you will be supporting the movement. Spread the word!
Here are some links to help you on Twitter:
- The official Twitter blog has a post, “How to get started on Twitter"
- You can also Google how to get started on Twitter
- I also wrote a short blog post called, "How to Make Your Voice Heard on Twitter, for Librarians: 7 Tips".
This is a guest blog post courtesy of Sheryl Ramer. You can find her blog here or follow her on Twitter @podcastlib.