No Budget, No Barriers: How Academic Branch Libraries Can Make Twitter Work

No Budget, No Barriers: How Academic Branch Libraries Can Make Twitter Work

Chris Kretz (Stony Brook University, USA) and William Blydenburgh (Stony Brook University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8097-3.ch015
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This chapter provides a roadmap for Twitter use by academic libraries at a branch, remote, or satellite campus. These smaller libraries, operating at a distance from the center of their institution, often face challenges relating to their budget, resources, and status. The use of Twitter can empower a branch to serve their unique populations more effectively, promote engagement within the local community, and establish a presence for the branch within the institution. The authors provide strategies and suggestions for managing Twitter based upon their own experiences while managing the Southampton Campus Library of Stony Brook University Twitter account.
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Many decisions have to be made before establishing a library Twitter account. These range from how the account will be handled, who will contribute content, how they will be trained, and how they will represent the library online (Appleton & Tattersall, 2015; Burkhardt, 2010; Farkas, 2009). Clear assessment goals and expectations should also be formulated at the outset to keep library Twitter use on track (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2014).

It is also important to have a clear sense of mission. Academic libraries have taken to Twitter for a variety of reasons. Some focus on sharing library news, promoting services, and building community (Loudon & Hall, 2010; Vassilakaki & Garoufallou, 2015). Others have centered their efforts on promoting the physical library environment and providing access to content (Harrison, Burress, Velasquez, & Schreiner, 2017).

The intended audience is also a vital element of a Twitter strategy. Students, an obvious choice for academic libraries, may prove the hardest audience to cultivate. Twitter use among people in the typical college-aged demographic, 18-24-year olds, stands at just 45% (Pew Research, 2018). However, college students have also expressed a preference for receiving library information over Twitter (Howard, Huber, Carter, & Moore 2018). For branch campus libraries, which may be serving smaller student populations to begin with, other audiences can be just as valuable. Studies have shown that the most important followers for an academic library are other accounts from within their institution, such as academic departments and administrative units (Kim, Abels, & Yang, 2012; Shulman, Yep, & Tomé, 2015; Stewart & Walker, 2017).

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