Friday, January 22, 2010

a Take on Twitter from Suzi

Tweet this: My twitter experience as a person, a camel, and a librarian, in 140 characters or more.

Hi! you may know me as Suzi Wackerbarth, one of the children's librarians at Northland. Or as @suzigurl, a tweeting librarian. Or as the blogger at Not so quiet. Or, (brand new) as @NorthlandRama, the tweeting voice of Rama the camel, Northland's unofficial mascot. Or, you may not know me at all. (Well, hello there.) I have been a librarian for a little over seven years, I work in both children's and technical services at Northland Public Library in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, and I love love love Twitter.

I did the blog thing (and I have a couple blogs that I pretend to maintain) right after Jessamyn West visited our library back in 2005. I got a FaceBook account after the guy I was dating got one (I figured if he was on there, I'd better be.) And I started Twitter merely to have a connection to the outside world in between working on catalog records, back in 2008. I have never looked back. To me, Twitter is the most fun I've had online. It has introduced me to a variety of folks, some of whom I have met IRL (in real life.) Whereas with my blogs, where I mostly connected with women who liked books, and on FaceBook, where I mostly connected with old high school friends, on Twitter, I have connected with Pittsburghers, Presbyterians all over the country, hockey fans, librarians (children's, catalogers, adult services, academic), writers, and the list goes on. A plane landed in the Hudson? I heard it first on Twitter. Michael Jackson just died? Twitter. The roads are bad in Pittsburgh? Twitter, Twitter, Twitter.

In my personal Twitter account, I tweet mostly for myself, not to "hype my brand," although somehow I have accumulated over 400 followers. I tweet anything from what I'm doing/just saw/just read to information about libraries in general, questions about pop culture, questions/comments about Pittsburgh weather/sports teams/roads.

HOWEVER, this is all very different from tweeting as Rama, as a voice for Northland. I'm intentionally following Pittsburgh organizations, and more notably, North Hills related organizations. I spent at least two hours one Friday evening just researching which organizations in Pittsburgh had Twitter accounts and following them. Currently, most of my followers are those very organizations. I'm hoping to get patrons on board, but that will involve PR (which is next month's goal.)

How did I get started? Well, the idea happened the way the best ideas do, after a party, over coffee. I was at a Starbucks in the South Hills with Adaena Tray (director at Green Tree) and Erin Tipping (children's and youth services librarian at Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie), and we were talking about Twitter, my favorite subject. Erin said, you should get that camel to tweet! And the rest is history. I mentioned it to a few people at work, asked my bosses, and gave myself a deadline of early January. Rama's account was started two weeks ago, on January 6th, 2010. 

Here are some resources that might help you, if you want to start a personal or organizational Twitter account:

Here are some articles that might interest you:

And there are many, many more resources out there. Most of the library journals have had a Twitter article in the past two years, Time magazine did a cover story, and on, and on...

How can I find other Twittering (Tweeting?) libraries, librarians, authors?

Some really fun library accounts: