March 30, 2009
Do Law Librarians Twitter? Results of the LLB Poll
Prompted by a story about Twitter use in law schools and academic law libraries, LLB launched an informal poll earlier this month to estimate Twitter use as a web communications medium by law librarians for library-related and personal reasons. The results, displayed below, are now in. Most law librarians who participated in the poll do not use Twitter for law library-related activities and have no plans on doing so.
I wonder if the lack of interest in Twitter for library-related work will be permanent. Upon reflection, I think I should have added some age-related questions: age groups for those who Twitter and age groups for patron populations. As more young law librarians enter the field and more Google generation patrons enter the practice of law will Twittering for work-related communications increase?
My personal opinion is that the use (or the perceived use) of RSS feeds by patrons trumps Twitter and the job at hand for law librarians is to identify and communicate to library patrons helpful feeds including, I guess, Twitter sources instead of alerting patrons to news and developments in 140 characters or less. For law library/librarian communications, I find Twitter to be a harmless web communications sideshow. Perhaps that's all Twitter was intended to be. But see Twitter, the Most Important Website Since Google? Then again I just might be suffering from the too-much-social-media syndrome. (Note to readers who have "befriended" me on Facebook (or is it MySpace?): sorry for not replying back.)
Readers suggested additional questions for this poll, including (1) listing reasons why one has never used Twitter and (2) asking if one tried Twitter and then stopped, and if so (a) how long did one use Twitter before stopping and (b) why did one stop. All excellent questions and I invite readers to respond to them by commenting to this post.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to participate. [JH]
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This summed up my initial thoughts:
"I'm old enough to remember the exact same kind of casual and uninformed dismissal of blogs, websites, Gopher, listservs, email, and telefax machines. How many times does this pattern of technology adoption have to repeat itself before people catch on?" -Milles
Secondly, you have only 166 responses...is that statistically significant? I think the legal librarian community is much larger. Plus, out of the 166 responses 43% said they do use Twitter!
My list of Twittering law schools and law libraries grows every week - http://socialmedialawstudent.com/twitter/how-law-schools-are-using-twitter/
Posted by: Rex Gradeless | Mar 31, 2009 5:19:47 PM
I honestly don't understand the dismissal of Twitter and those who use it by people who never tried it. Joe, with all due respect, your description of Twitter as "a harmless web communications sideshow" is offensive to many of us who do use Twitter regularly and find it to be a valuable part of our professional and personal lives. I'm old enough to remember the exact same kind of casual and uninformed dismissal of blogs, websites, Gopher, listservs, email, and telefax machines. How many times does this pattern of technology adoption have to repeat itself before people catch on?
Posted by: Jim Milles | Mar 31, 2009 8:37:18 AM
I twitter for both work and personal reasons - and wasn't part of the survey so I'm not counted :) I'm much closer to professional colleagues in other places and in other types of library work now than I was pre-Twitter. Yes, we watch The Amazing Race or Heroes together but we also discuss resources, cancellation news, ILS features, research questions, and training needs. Friends sharing conference information, sometimes live from a session, allows me to learn from events I don't attend.
Posted by: Anne Myers | Mar 31, 2009 8:36:23 AM
I tried twitter for a good solid month. I stopped because the exchanges weren't useful (especially for the poor twits who read my tweets) and also, because the kind of info wasn't interesting, or entertaining for me. I'm thinking that a basic rule of twittering is to be basically roped up to the tweeterpost all your waking hours. I can't do that. I also don't care for texting. I like just letting life unfold before me without telling people about it the second it unfolds. It's just not for me. I'll be curious how twittering might work for libraries for notifying our users of newly acquired books and e-resources, etc.
Posted by: Brian Striman U. of Nebraska | Mar 30, 2009 2:05:35 PM
Funny, I just today incorporated Twitter into an experimental research guide, specifically a feed of search results on various terms related to education law. Will students find it useful or even interesting to see what random people are saying about ed law? I have no idea, but it's worth trying.
I can't remember how I answered in the poll now, but I still haven't figured out whether chatting with law librarians on Twitter about pets, comic book movies, and best apps for Nutella counts as personal- or work-related, and how those messages should be counted in the poll questions. Either way, it's a great networking tool and has enriched my friendships with fellow law librarians.
Further, I suggest reading Connie Crosby's excellent overview (skip past the video) of the various professional ways Twitter can be used (and very frequently is, by actual law librarians) before dismissing it as a sideshow. Getting the scoop on conferences one can't attend, brainstorming, getting instant technology recommendations, quick access to the professional/institutional memory banks, generating volunteer leads...patron interaction is definitely not the only professional activity on Twitter worth counting.
Posted by: Meg Kribble | Mar 30, 2009 1:03:14 PM
So, what's your Twitter handle, JH.
LOL, Don't have one. Joe
Posted by: Montserrat | Mar 30, 2009 11:15:49 AM
Twitter would seem to be an excellent way for the library to receive questions and answer questions. Email works, but the answers are not shared. Answering the question on twitter open the answers up to a larger audience.
Posted by: Doug Cornelius | Mar 30, 2009 11:00:29 AM