Social Media in Academic Libraries: Engaging in 140 Characters or Less

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What do you do when your workplace gives you an awesome learning experience? You write an article about it!

I’ve managed social media accounts at a number of workplaces, but the challenges of doing so within an academic library setting are unique. When I had the chance to manage the Twitter account at The D.B. Weldon Library at the University of Western Ontario I leapt at the opportunity. This article documents what I learned, and offers some practical advice. It also raises some questions that I think are important: what should the voice of academic library sound like? And who should speak on its behalf?

 

 

This article will focus on my experiences in managing social media while working as a co-op student at The D.W. Weldon Library at Western University. I found that managing social media in an academic library setting requires three things: a good working knowledge of the digital world of social media, a flair for composing interesting content, and tact. This article will address the most practical of these first: what social media is and how to use it. Next, it will tackle the more esoteric subject of how to write as the voice of a library for an online audience. Finally, it will suggest some further areas of exploration for what I have called here “tact,” the positioning of the social media manager him or herself within the larger context of the organization, and challenges faced.

 

 

Western Library users can access the article here.

I also have a number of free copies available here.

This is a practical, how-to article, which is different from my usual critical ramblings. I should have an article more along these lines coming out soon (it links undersea cables to library strikes) and I’ll post that here, too.

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