The Halifax Public Library has a hopping Facebook page and a very popular Twitter feed with 4,016 followers. Unlike the other libraries we’ve seen to date, they have a mini twitter feed on their homepage with about 3 recent tweets that you can click to get to their Twitter account:
Halifax Public Library homepage
I am having trouble finding any Halifax Public Library events posted on Twitter, which is unusual for a library Twitter feed.
Oh, there they are. They’re on the Facebook page together with book reviews and staff pics. I think this is the first library we have seen so far that has very little (if any) overlap between Facebook and Twitter, and it seems to be working. I would likely follow the library on Twitter just to get my daily dose of interesting news. If I was curious about what was actually happening at the library, I would turn to Facebook.
HPL’s Twitter account reached the 4000 follower mark in early April, which is pretty remarkable. I’m curious as to what it is they are doing right, so this post will focus on HPL’s Twitter account (rather than Facebook) to try and find out what makes it so popular, and if it is a successful Library 2.0 tool.
After sampling some tweets, I suspect that the key to their success is that the majority of their posts have nothing at all to do with the library. So how does that work?
In “Twitter for Libraries (and Librarians),” Sarah Milstein writes that “the essence of Twitter is conversation. Libraries, however, tend to use it as a broadcast mechanism.” Millstein writes that “libraries on Twitter should encourage followers to interact with the library—ask questions, share links, re-Tweet interesting posts from others, and reply when people message you (those are prefaced with @ your account name).” HPL is setting a good example and trying to get some conversation rolling by posting links, news, and events outside the walls of the library and replying to messages. It seems that this method, rather than using Twitter as a “broadcast mechanism,” attracts the most followers, which hopefully leads to more talk about the library in general and a supportive community of patrons.
HPL tweets about Google doodles, CBC stories, the City of Halifax, the release of Census records in Canada and the U.S., job seeking, tech news, and everything in between. HPL tweets several times a day (they tweeted 6 times on April 5!), and the tweets are conversational and upbeat. NPL uses the character limit in Twitter to write a short blurb about something that caught their interest, include a # when appropriate to categorize their tweets, and link to the page where it can be found. Because NPL links to sources outside of the library and because they use hashtags, they have built themselves into a rich online network. They are responsive to user needs, too, as a recent tweet demonstrates. One of the library’s patrons asks if HPL has an iPhone app, which he says he would use. HPL responds: “No iPhone library app yet (except the OverDrive app for library eBooks). We’ll forward your suggestion to our web manager!” I think we’ve just witnessed Library 2.0 in action.