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'Not Getting Involved' by TarikB via Flickr

Apologies for the brief blogging hiatus. We took last week off from class to make room for a series of fantastic webinars produced and presented by my classmates. I’ll talk about those in my next post, but first I’ve got a few more thoughts on Twitter, the topic of our most recent class.

I’ve already written about how I use Twitter as a preprofessional, so I wanted to take a look at the use of Twitter by libraries as institutions. Social media is becoming increasingly important for all kinds of institutions — in fact, Michigan just hired its first full-time university-wide director of social media — and I’m seeing more and more books and articles offering advice for libraries using social media to connect with their communities.

It’s fairly straightforward to set up institutional social media accounts and start pushing out content. But what happens after that? How do you measure or discern any effect or enlarged connection to your patrons?

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'Maze' by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

This week, my classmates and I ran our own #si643 backchannel on Twitter. A few days into our conversation, I felt like I’d participated in a virtual conference with all my sharp, engaged colleagues. Y’all are a fun bunch.

Last semester was my first experience using any kind of backchannel for class-related but out-of-the-classroom discussion — in that case, a Diigo group where classmates shared links and news related to our discussions of information literacy instruction.

The Twitter backchannel this week was a bit more informal and definitely more interactive, as we traded tweets on open access journals, eBook DRM, computational literacy, and more. While I’ve been a Twitter user for a while now, I primarily use it to follow professionals in my field and to curate my own news feed of neat stuff. Our class conversation required more back-and-forth, and challenged me to hone my responses in such a short format — always a useful tool for clarifying one’s thinking.

Now that I’ve got more than 140 characters, though, I’ll say a bit more about one topic that came up in our discussion: library jargon.

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'Neurons' by MikeBlogs via Flickr

What’s the best balance between insider status and outsider status for librarians in academia?

The In the Library with the Lead Pipe article I mentioned in my last post points out how librarians in academia can benefit from their position on the periphery of a discipline, and I agree that one of librarianship’s strengths is the ability to serve as a connector between and among disciplines. On an interpersonal level, librarians can take on the mantle of tutor when working with students who need a coach or a guide, not another teacher to report to.

This week’s class discussion on embedded librarianship dovetailed with another conversation I had this week regarding online reference and librarians’ duty to “go where the user is.”

So, I’m struck by these twin poles: Do we (always) go where the user is, right down to an office in the user’s home department? Or do we maintain enough distance to provide perspective?
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Above is a snapshot of my Storify story about Quasi-Con 2012.

You can read the whole thing here.

I first learned about Storify last year while working for a news website, and I’ve watched it take off since then, with many major news organizations posting regularly — it’s a great way to follow the web chatter on elections, protests, and other swift-moving news events. While Storify is primarily used by journalists and news bloggers, I think it’s got a lot of potential to curate social media conversations happening around other community institutions like libraries.

Meanwhile, I also made my first screencast last week! The topic, natch, is about using Storify for library outreach. You can watch my screencast in the little VodPod widget in the left menu bar on this page. Or click here to watch it full-screen on Screencast.com.