In my case this means my day job, the 9 to 5 one, not the one on the side where I write this blog and other stuff and do workshops and present and read articles and government reports, though it helps there too. For the sake of this post I’m focusing on my 9 to 5 job or more like 7 to 6 job.
Here are 10 ways Twitter has made me a better employee, better at my job, and benefited my library.
1. Connection to experts.
Thanks to Twitter I can connect with experts it might take years to connect with otherwise. I might see them in passing at conferences (if I’m fortunate enough to attend) or exchange emails. But Twitter connections are so much easier to make. No need to write a formal email, I respond to their tweets, starting a conversation that is much faster and easier to maintain than formal emails. Through my tweets they get a feeling of what I am like professionally and as in individual.
These connections include those tweets that aren’t related to work or libraries, personal tweets help build a relationship between people who have never met face to face. They are the mortar between the bricks. Think of them as office cooler talk, it’s the grease that helps the wheels turn.
These connections are invaluable for asking questions, getting feedback, and growing as a professional. It also means when my library is exploring a new project my network of experts to ask for advise is much, much larger than others. When we are researching a new service the first place I go is to my Twitter connections and I get accurate, up-to-date information faster and more efficiently. What boss wouldn’t love that?
2. Pool of information
The amount of information shared on Twitter is amazing. Even better because the information shared is first vetted by the individual who shared it I am assured of it’s accuracy, timeliness, and relevance.
3. Real time awareness of News
Your best bet for real-time, as it is happening, awareness of news is Twitter. It is just better than newspapers, radio, and TV for instant news. News my patrons are interested in, news my management team needs to know. News that effects the decisions we, the library, make.
4. Real time updates in technology and library issues.
Want to know what latest technology marvel Apple is unveiling that won’t work with any of your library services but all your patrons will be asking about? Twitter. Want to know what is happening with Vendor issues like the JSTOR interface change? Or Libraries lending Netflix? Twitter.
5. Connection with patrons
Patrons ask me questions on Twitter all the time. Yes, for real. Patrons go to the easiest, most convenient method for them, for some it’s Twitter.
Technically my twitter account is not related to my library in any way. It doesn’t matter, people who know me in the community know I work at the library, I am their point of contact.
6. Professional development for free!
Hey budgets are tight. But it is important that we take time to develop our staff. Library staff members need professional development to best serve our patrons.
Twitter is no substitute for conferences or face to face training or workshops, but if money is tight it is better than nothing. I get to interact with my peers, exchange ideas, and I get pointed toward important library developments without leaving my office.
7. Contact with local organizations and groups.
Because I live in my community I follow local organizations and groups I am interested in. I ask them questions, retweet their tweets and keep up with upcoming events. They know I’m a librarian that works at the library, they also know I am a customer/patron of theirs. When they have a need than could be met by the library they’ll think of us first because they know me.
Twitter is a great way to build relationships with other organizations, something that is especially important in today’s economy. Even better, you don’t have to spend two hours of work time eating bad food and listening to bad presentations.
8. I’m always learning
I think it would be next to impossible to be on Twitter and not learn something new. Librarians who are always learning are more flexible and open to change. One thing we know for sure about libraries right now is times are changing and staff need to be able to change too.
9. Keeps me in touch with the larger world.
As human being we tend to gravitate to people with similar ideas and interests. Twitter connects me with people I might not connect with otherwise, they might have completely different interests outside of libraries. Because I frequently interact by choice with people with ideals different than my own I’m better able to assist patrons with ideals who don’t align with me. Remember we are supposed to be warm and welcoming to everyone equally, even if you think their ideas are abhorrent.
10. Sharing and borrowing
Thanks to Twitter it is easy for me to share information about all the awesome things my library is doing and for others to share what their libraries are doing. Why reinvent the wheel when I can steal programming ideas from libraries who have already implemented them? Even better programs I might never have thought of.
Still not convinced? Check out:
- Twittering, Not Frittering: Professional Development in 140 Characters from Edutopia
- How to Use Twitter to Grow Your Personal Learning Network
- Can Twitter Help your Professional Development?
- Twitter is really professional development
- Twitteracy: Twitter as professional development tool
Don’t have Twitter and now want to set up an account? Check out these great guides.
- New to Twitter? Here’s what you do
- Dipping into the Stream from American Libraries
- Twitter 101: How should I get started using Twitter?
- Twitter basics
- The Twitter Glossary
- Newbie’s guide to Twitter
- Twitter for Libraries (and Librarians) from Computers in Libraries