How do you Tweet? Help Us Study How Federal Depository Libraries Are Using Twitter
- Category: Community Insights
- Published: July 10 2012
- Written by Paula L. Webb, Reference and Electronic Resources Government Documents Librarian, University of South Alabama and Sonnet Ireland, Head of Federal Documents, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans
When you read Government 2.0, Part 1: Federal Agency Use of Web 2.0 Technologies (Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform)1, you begin to realize the goals mentioned by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) are not too far from what social media needs to represent within the Federal depository library community.
NARA’s first goal is about developing relationships. There is a need to enrich our relationships with existing Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) “researchers, stakeholders, and interested members of the public by creating space for informal conversations and platforms for participation and knowledge-sharing.”2 We advocate that such a “space” already exists and is freely available to everyone through the use of the micro-blogging tool, Twitter. However, with the exception of the occasional presentation at the fall Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference, we currently do not have a true idea of how Federal depository libraries use Twitter.
In accordance with the second NARA goal, the FDLP needs to “engage with potential researchers, visitors, and members of the public who may not be familiar with the ‘FDLP’ by sharing our digitized holdings in popular online community spaces and raising awareness of our events, services, and holdings.”3 Social media is an excellent medium for communicating depository library holdings to the world. Not only could we share our digital holdings, but we could also inform the public of alternative formats in our collections that are not available online. To make this possible, we need data. While we are only studying Twitter in our research of depository library usage, other social media venues need to be analyzed as well.
The third NARA goal concerns improving internal communication and developing relationships with other offices.4 This same idea also can be applied to the FDLP. How are we at communicating with each other within the Program? We raised this question when we tried to use the Federal Depository Library Directory. Not in every case, but more than a few links to FDLP libraries were inactive and not updated when Biennial Surveys were completed. Using a social media tool, such as Twitter, could solve this problem. The Directory entries could include Twitter ID’s, Facebook pages, and other ways of connecting using social media. It is our hope that our study will start the process of analysis.
According to the report, citizens “…expect government not only to deliver services through multiple channels, but to engage with them on how these services are working and can be improved.”5 No one knows what material the government provides the public more than a librarian in charge of a Federal depository library. Many are unaware depository libraries exist in their community. Social media could be used to educate the public.
In an effort to begin gathering this data and we would like to invite FDLP libraries to participate in a survey concerning their use of Twitter. The survey will be open from July 1, 2012 to August 1, 2012. Simply follow the link and answer the ten questions listed.
We will share this data with the FDLP community and other interested professionals when the survey concludes.
1Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (2010, July 2). Retrieved March 23, 2012, from http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/gpo8104/pt1.pdf