Twitter is no longer just a way to relay small amounts of personal information; it is now a surprisingly useful tool for libraries to answer quick questions and to build a stronger presence within their communities. Andy Burkhardt, a librarian at Chaplain College and the creator of the Information Tyrannosaur blog, explains that the Twitter feeds of libraries can be surprisingly useful and sophisticated tools. In his post, How libraries Can Leveraging Twitter, he points out the seven ways that Chaplain college has used twitter to improve their library, and how others might following these steps to improve their own institutions Twitter accounts. These seven steps involve reporting library happenings, promoting library resources/services, building community, engaging users, monitoring library related tweets, soliciting feedback, and creating greater awareness of the library. By including all of these concepts within their feed, libraries can create a much richer experience for their followers, instead of just halfheartedly re-posting the tweets of others or blandly listing library features.
When I went through the SPL Twitter feed, they managed to follow most of Burkhardt’s recommended steps. They publicized library services like their free tax clinic, they asked questions of their users regarding what kind of books they wanted, they reported events that were going to be held, and their feed held comments from library users who discussed features they liked, which is a good indication of community involvement. If the SPL was going to try and follow all of the recommended steps, it would be incredibly useful if their Twitter was utilized more frequently as a reference tool. When I looked at the last several days of Tweets, I didn’t find any instances of reference questions being asked, even though the SPL clearly encourages users to ask questions. Perhaps this was just a slow couple of days for Twitter users with reference questions, or maybe this is just a feature that hasn’t gained a lot of popularity yet. One way that the SPL could increase the use of this feature, is to publicize it on their homepage. Of course, much like with their Facebook page, the preexisting link to their Twitter account is hidden at the very bottom of the page. This not only makes it difficult to realize the SPL as a Twitter account, it also does nothing to advertise all the features that are available through twittering with the library. Overall, I would say the SPL does a great job with their twitter account, but they could work on how visible or accessible it is to their patrons.