18th LIASA Annual Conference: Abstracts: Starting new conversations! The role of Twitter in Academic Libraries and Academia

Starting new conversations! The role of Twitter in Academic Libraries and Academia

Fiona Still-Drewett          

Library twitter accounts have opened up new possibilities for communicating with library users and communities. This online communication is characterised by engagement and immediacy, and with perceived benefits of local, national and global outreach. This paper will look at the adoption of Twitter accounts by a sampling of South African academic libraries, and assess user engagement from data in the public domain via online account presence, number of tweets and followers. Discussion includes considerations of institutional social media policy guidelines, the active processes of implementing, marketing, curating and administering library twitter accounts, together with issues relating to staff interest and ownership, and twitter account content and longevity. Twitter is characterised by the oddly short ‘140 characters’, yet serves well the diverse roles of newsfeed, chat arena, and microblog, while also having potential to improve and hone staff writing skills. Also considered is the contribution social media, and specifically twitter, can play in scholarly communication and advocacy for both researchers and librarians. Experiences and insights arising from the development and application of two twitter accounts at Rhodes University Library, these being @RhodesLibrary and @RhodesResearch , will be shared.