How we set up Oxford Libraries Trainees Twitter

Every year, the new trainees take over this blog from the previous cohort. Many of us have used the blog to research the Traineeship, the Bodleian Libraries, and the college libraries whilst applying and before our interviews. However, a lot of the Trainees first heard about library opportunities through Twitter. Following a social media training session in late October, we realised we were in a key position to expand our reach and engage with a wider audience by setting up a Trainee Twitter account. This post tells the story of how we went about planning, pitching and launching a brand new Oxford Libraries Trainees Twitter account @OxLibTrainees.

Our motivation: a Twitter account would have the advantage of being more inclusive for the trainees to make short-format posts, it would be more responsive to upcoming events, and would allow us to introduce the traineeship to a wider audience who may not necessarily come across the blog.


Pitching the Account

Two of us pitched our idea to Emma Sullivan, the Staff Development Librarian. She was positive about it, but we needed to have the approval of the Bodleian Social Media Team. The Bodleian Social Media Team needed to sign off on the decisions for a number of reasons, which included confirming our commitment to actively running the account.

There are 100+ existing social media accounts representing the Bodleian Libraries – many more than an institution of its size usually should have. Many of these are neglected or abandoned. To keep the Bodleian’s external presence professional, valuable and easy to navigate for external audiences, it was important that we could answer:

  • was there a genuine need for the account?
  • does it reach a specific audience?
  • can we build this audience from scratch?
  • do we have the resources to consistently post and keep followers engaged?
  • do we have a strong measure for success?

This all seemed a bit daunting, and we had a very detailed proposal form to complete. However, this proved beneficial as it made us fully consider the account’s purpose, how prepared we had to be to maintain it, and allowed us to fully comprehend the Bodleian’s strategic aims. Thankfully, we gained approval to begin, with the caveat that the account will be reviewed after six months (to ensure it was meeting the agreed-upon goals).


Twitter Team Assemble!

With this initial go ahead, our next task was to create a Trainee Twitter Team. We put out feelers to the rest of the trainees and — luckily — other trainees were interested! With so much to discuss and so many decisions to make, we realised that a weekly teams meeting would be required to get the account running. We decided on a Monday morning slot and got to work.


Deciding on our aims

We knew that our target audience would be potential trainees and young people interested in, or considering, librarianship and archives. From here, we focussed on what would make our account unique, and came up with 3 key aims:

  • the wooden doors of the Great Gate with the coats of arms of the different colleges open to view the statues of the Earl of Pembroke.
    A key symbol of our aim to open doors – The Great Gate, Old Bodleian Library. Credit: Bodleian Libraries

    ‘Opening doors’ — through placing an emphasis on sharing knowledge, we hope to unlock information for potential library trainees and other interested individuals. We recognise that libraries are meant to be the tool for which we achieve wider engagement with society, which we believe a Twitter account will ensure, as it allows for discussion and is more accessible for our target audience. We hope the stress on openness will drive up engagement, create an encouraging and supportive environment online and make librarianship more approachable as a career.

  • Reaching a unique audience — As the trainees work at a variety of Bodleian and college libraries, the Twitter account would allow us to bridge the gap between different Oxford libraries and allow external interested parties an insight into the internal workings of an academic library, particularly at an entry-level position. This stress on beginner roles within the library sector is something unique to our account, which would allow us to reach our target audience and fill a specific need as an account.
  • Promoting diversity in librarianship — A huge aim for our Twitter account is to promote diversity within librarianship through making library collections, traineeship knowledge and our experiences “more readily visible”. To encourage diversity and “attract new and underrepresented audiences”, we believe you need to diversify access to information, which can be done by expanding our web presence and creating a platform that is more discoverable and approachable to potential applicants and interested parties. As a bonus, being able to advertise the trainee posts on Twitter will increase our reach and potentially attract a more diverse range of candidates – something we consider extremely important.


Deciding on our name, handle, and bio

After a long discussion, supported by the use of a shared document to develop our ideas, we settled on the name, handle, and bio for the new account.


Name: Oxford Libraries Trainees​. Handle: @OxLibTrainees​. Bio: Library Trainees at @bodleianlibs and across @UniofOxford colleges. Opening doors for a new generation of librarians. More on our blog (link).​


We wanted our name, handle, and bio to reflect our aims, and make our account’s purpose clear to users. The name Oxford Libraries Trainees was chosen because it works across the Bodleian Libraries but is also inclusive of the college libraries (who are not part of the Bodleian Libraries) and leaves scope to include Library Apprentices and potentially the Digital Archives Trainees too.

For the bio, we wanted to include the ‘opening doors’ phrase, as it emphasised our aims of supporting outreach, diversifying audiences, and breaking down barriers.


stylised open Bodleian Great Gate in blue and gold
Oxford Libraries Trainee Twitter logo. Credit: Izzie Salter

Deciding on graphics and branding

For the branding, it was important to have a logo that reflected our aims and what our account will offer, whilst also following the Bodleian Libraries’ branding and style. We were drawn to the visceral imagery of ‘opening doors’ as a way to emphasise our goals, and it seemed perfect to use an image of the Bodleian Library’s Great Gate to remain on the theme. We opted for a line drawing, similar to the Bodleian Libraries image, to promote unity. The font was influenced by the Bodleian style guide, though we were keen to stick to modern fonts for inclusivity purposes. After making the first version, we sent it across to the Bodleian design team who helped to refine the design and approved the final format.

They also helped us to create a ‘header’ for the Twitter page. Here, we felt it was important to explicitly state our core purpose: ‘opening doors for a new generation of librarians’.

Twitter header with the name of account and tagline using Bodleian font . Oxford blue background and white and gold writing
Oxford Libraries Trainees Twitter header with our tagline


Deciding on content and #hashtags

With our aims and general ‘look’ established, we next needed to decide what content we would be posting. Like our branding, we wanted our content to be unique and provide insight into early career librarianship. With this, we outlined key types of tweets that we wanted to produce (often with corresponding hashtags):

  • #LibraryOpportunities: highlighting job opportunities and vacancies which are suitable for those interested in early-career librarianship
  • #LibraryFinds: interesting things that pop up across individual libraries. The trainee cohort is unique in that it spans a range of Bodleian and College Libraries. Having a shared online platform means we can highlight these different quirks across each of our home libraries.
  • #MyDayInLibraries: Mini ‘A Day In the Life’ content, or an update on interesting things that have happened to us during our day at work, that go beyond a unique find.
  • #LibraryJargonBusting: explaining library terminology. Entering a new career can be intimidating, especially when it feels like everyone is speaking in a secret language you have not yet learned. We wanted to create a regular series which breaks down these terms and makes library language more accessible.
  • Libraries as inclusive spaces: aiming to highlight areas of our libraries – and librarianship in general – which celebrate diversity. We felt that ‘opening doors’ includes giving space to more marginalised voices, and we hope to work on this through our Twitter content.
  • Training session updates: giving insight into our weekly sessions as a cohort. A unique part of being a trainee is – you guessed it – the training itself! We have been lucky enough to experience a wide variety of training sessions, from ‘An Introduction to Early Printing’, to visiting the Weston Library, to exploring the Bodleian’s Offsite Storage Facility. Library career paths can be incredibly varied and we wanted to showcase this!
  • Blog links: sharing our blog content more widely. We may be a little biased, but our blog holds a lot of valuable content about library life in Oxford. However, the internet is a big place and, if you do not know how to find it, our blog can be a little tricky to find. We noticed our blog’s views accelerated when the Bodleian Libraries Twitter began sharing links, and we wanted to take this further.
  • Photos: images of our different libraries. Oxford is certainly not without beautiful reading rooms and library buildings, and we are fortunate enough to be placed across them with opportunities for brilliant snaps.
a llama in front of the Old Bodleian
Sometimes, #MyDayInLibraries involves acting as “alpaca bouncers” for the Bodleian Library (with some llamas too)

The inclusion of hashtags was important to us for two principal reasons:

  1. It organises our regular and key tweets as a series (e.g., #LibraryJargonBusting)
  2. It makes important tweets more findable. For example, #LibraryOpportunities can be useful for those not familiar with our account to find library jobs.

Once we had agreed on some ideas for content, we then discussed a realistic and maintainable number of tweets that we could consistently put out (bearing in mind that all of us are busy with full-time jobs). We decided to aim for two or three original tweets a week, as well as sharing blog posts and career opportunities as and when they appear.


Deciding on an editorial approach

With a clear idea of the type of content we would like to produce, the next decision meant answering the following two questions: how should our content be communicated? Who is responsible for editing and publishing tweets?

Here, we agreed on some editorial policies:

  • Tweets must be anonymised — as we will be posting to the public about our places of work, it is important to protect trainees’ identities. So, no use of names, personal information or personal photos.
  • ‘We’ should be used where possible — this was decided to create a cohesive voice, though it is flexible to allow for content about individual libraries (done through tagging referenced libraries).
  • Tweets must be accessible — it is important for us that the account can be useful for everyone. We will do this with alt text, capitalised hashtags, measured use of emojis, etc. This means that our content will be readable on different devices, or with adaptive software

In order to ensure a consistency of approach, we decided to create the following documents:

  • A content guide – this would help to maintain the required tone and content type, as we would be getting ideas and proposals submitted from across the trainee cohort.
  • A rotating schedule for Lead Editor – this would spread the workload between the Twitter team, to allow for a consistent tone each week and to organise the workload around our jobs.


Deciding on measurable metrics and realistic engagement levels

As part of the feedback from our initial proposal, we were advised to think about how we would measure our success. It is important that the account is active and demonstrates that it is fulfilling the specific need we had discussed. We decided to measure our success through targets for follower numbers and the overall engagement rate.

Based on our research of similar accounts, we decided that an expected target would be to reach 100 followers for the first few months. We felt confident in making this target, as we had planned a schedule filled with original content, started to contact relevant individuals we had met through training sessions and within our own libraries to promote our account, and devised a plan to follow library-themed accounts for wider sector engagement. The list of accounts we had created to follow within the first week included accounts within the Bodleian Libraries, the college Libraries, wider library organisations (including other Higher Education libraries), and librarianship-centric accounts (like CILIP). This would boost our numbers initially, to give us a good platform to launch content, before we could start to grow followers organically.

In terms of engagement, we would use internal metric measurements to aim for a standard rate of 3%, which we would consult regularly to ensure that the content we produced was relevant to our aims and shaped to aid discussion.


Deciding to review the account

We decided that we would do reviews after 1 month, 3 months and 6 months (which would, sadly, be at the end of our traineeship).

1 month: launch period

  • We would use this time to grow and develop a base following, establish a steady content plan, and settle into the management of the account.

3 months: the mid-way point

  • A review after 3 months will allow us to judge organic growth and make tweaks to ensure we were achieving our aims and maintaining a consistently good level of engagement.

6 months: the final review

  • After 6 months, we would collate important data to see if we had reached our targets and met our aims, and so the account can be passed to the next trainee cohort, so they could make informed decisions in the next academic year.


Presenting Our Plans to the Bodleian Social Media Team

Having discussed, planned, and designed the future Twitter account, it was now time to present our plans to Rob on the Bodleian Social Media Team. We needed to demonstrate our commitment to the project and a comprehensive plan for the account. We created a detailed presentation based on the information discussed previously, taking turns to present on different areas of interest. This was followed by a brief Q&A session, where certain points were examined in more detail. Thankfully, Emma and Rob were impressed with our presentation and gave us the go-ahead for launch! Woo-hoo!


The Launch! Follow us @OxlibTrainees!

We know that our growth in followers and engagement will be boosted when the Bodleian Graduate Library Trainee Programme applications are open (from November to January), as that is when people will be actively seeking information. However some of the college trainee places are advertised later, and interviews were taking place in March and April, so we thought that the sooner we launched, the better. In addition, at the end of Hillary term, the trainee sessions would end for the vacation, making original content harder to source.

We launched the account on 1 March 2022. We started with a ‘soft opening’ to start building our followers before the content launch on the following Monday.

You can see our launch post, announcing who we are and what we will offer to our followers. This was posted simultaneously with an announcement on the Trainee blog to push blog viewers to follow the Twitter account.


Bodleian Great Gate with welcome message and a key
Our launch post

As we started following other accounts and we sent off our emails to our contact list, our followers grew. A bonus announcement from Richard Ovenden in the Bodleian newsletter meant that it was not long before we had smashed our goal of 100 followers!

We re-evaluated our goals in our 1-month review, and continue to make small changes to ensure that we are on track to meet our aims and achieve consistent engagement. We think it is going really well so far!


The Future of the Account

In conclusion, we hope to pass on a successful and exciting account to the new trainees next academic year. We have made this blog post to help the future Trainee Twitter teams, so they can read about our process and our aims when setting up the account – and so they can follow on from what we started. However, we also hope this post will prove useful for anyone who wants to set up a social media account for their own organisation, with some insight into the processes required to turn this idea into a reality!


— Courtesy of the 2021/22 Trainee Twitter Team

Oxford Libraries Trainees New Twitter!

Trainee Twitter logo
Credit: Izzie Salter

We have big news … Oxford Libraries Trainees are now on Twitter!

You can now follow us @OxLibTrainees

We are very excited to share our insights into the libraries with you, and we hope that Twitter will introduce more people to the traineeship and promote a career in libraries.

Congratulations to the brilliant new Trainee Twitter Team, who have put in a lot of work to get the account up and running (you may also notice our fabulous new graphics across the blog and Twitter, which have been designed by one of the talented trainees)!

Stay tuned to the blog for a longer post about the process of setting up a new social media account.




A year in review: – The Survival guide to being a Graduate Trainee at the SSL

Our year as Trainees is coming to a close. I want to take this opportunity to give you a brief overview of what it has been like being a graduate trainee at the Social Science Library (AKA the SSL) and some of the interesting things I have got up to over the year. Don’t worry, there are lots of nice pictures.


20160728_112458SSL staff enjoying one of the monthly coffee and cake meetings

Coming from a non-library background I was more than a little nervous about starting my Traineeship at the SSL. I met all the staff straight away, and I had to quickly learn everyone’s names and what they did. Luckily everyone was very welcoming and put me at ease. The friendless of the staff has been one of the best things about working at the SSL. We even have regular team meetings (with cake) so we are kept up to date with what everyone else is getting up to around the library.

Intensive Training

Our workload is very varied, so getting to grips with all the different tasks is hugely important. Most of my first couple of weeks were spent being trained up by other members of staff. It was a little overwhelming having to learn so much in such a short time, but I soon got the hang of it.  The SSL has one of the most exhaustively comprehensive staff manuals I have ever seen, so if you ever forget a procedure or a password it is easy enough to find.

20160720_140253The graduate trainees attempt to concentrate on their training session on one of the hottest days of the year.

As well as the training I have received on the job, I had the opportunity to take part in the Graduate Trainee training sessions, in which all the Trainees from across the libraries get together to learn more about a particular aspect of librarianship. These run throughout the year and cover an amazing range of topics.  My personal favourites were on customer care, librarian careers and the role of the subject librarian. They are also a great opportunity to get to know your fellow trainees.

Happy to Help

Once I was20160722_153017 all trained up it was time to get to work! One of my favourite parts of this job has been helping readers on our issue desk. This can be quite exciting when it is busy but I had to learn how to multitask and be prepared for the varied questions that came my way.  I even got a shiny purple “Ask a librarian badge” for the first two weeks of term. A lot of interesting people come to our library, from new undergraduates to academic staff and visitors, and some of them have great stories. It is always satisfying to be able to help someone find a resource they desperately need. I also got to help give tours to new students across the year so they can learn how the library works.


Giving  a tour around the SSL.


The great book detective

20160728_104504Sometimes solving enquiries at the SSL takes a bit of detective work. Whether looking for clues to work out where a missing book might have gone or asking around the Bodleian’s technical staff to work out why a reader can’t access an e-resource, we get some head-scratchers. Solving such mysteries keeps the job interesting and rewarding.





A study in Scarlet: Trying to find a missing book that could have been misshelved


Parts of a process

20160721_111403As well as helping readers with their enquiries, the SSL Trainees work on technical services. This mainly involves processing the new books that come in ready for readers to borrow or repairing old ones so they can go back on to the shelves. The shelves of books to process can fill up very fast, particularly at the beginning of terms when books are ordered for new reading lists. The stickering, stamping and covering of books can be almost meditative.



The SSL’s other Trainee, Tom, gets a book ready for our readers.

Out and about


One of the most fun things about being a Bodleian Graduate Trainee is the chance to visit a whole range of interesting libraries and archives. Over the year I have been privileged to visit the Conservation Department in the Weston Library, the University and Balliol archives and a variety of libraries in London. It’s fascinating to see all the different places librarianship can take you.

Visiting the Guardian: The creatures outside looked from pig to librarian, and from librarian to pig, and from pig to librarian again; but already it was impossible to say which was cuter

Being Social

One of my contributions to the Bodleian libraries Instagram showing a book being processed

On top of my regular duties, I have had to take a crash course in social media. I contribute to the SSL’s Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as Bodleian Libraries’ main Instagram account. One of the most exciting projects I took part in was the ‘Twitter Takeover’, in which the SSL got to take over the main Bodleian’s Twitter account for a day.


In addition to working it’s also important to remember to have fun once the working day is done! It’s been lovely to socialise with and get to know my fellow Trainees. They will be one of the things I will miss the most when my Traineeship is over.


The Graduate Trainees enjoy an end of year picnic at St. Hilda’s college

I hope this has given you a flavour of life as a Graduate Trainee. I have done so many interesting things that is impossible to put them all in one blog post! It has been an enriching experience, and if you are thinking about applying, I thoroughly recommend it.


My year as a Graduate Trainee at the Bodleian Social Science Library: Trainee Projects!

I first published this post on the old Graduate Trainee Blog (sorry about that!), so I am re-publishing it here in its proper home.

Being a trainee at the Bodleian Social Science Library has been a really interesting and rewarding experience. I’ve learnt a lot and have been involved with some really enjoyable projects, two of which I would like to talk to you about now.

Twitter at the SSL

Like most people before they start a new job I wanted to find out as much as possible about the place I would be spending the next year before I actually started. Luckily the SSL has a very good website with lots of information on it, but as a semi-frequent ‘tweeter’ I noticed the lack of SSL presence on the social media website, Twitter. In a sense, though, this was a good thing, as it meant that when I started my trainee year I knew exactly what my first project would be!

After agreeing that I would go ahead and create a Twitter account for the Library with the Reader Services Librarian, I consulted with one of my colleagues, the Senior Library Assistant (Research Support), who had already been thinking about how Twitter might be set up for the SSL. She directed me towards several books on the subject and suggested a few useful people to follow. Thankfully I was quite used to how Twitter works and it didn’t take me too long before I was ready to get started.

After looking at lots of different Twitter profiles and how other libraries had set themselves up on the website, we decided to go for a simple approach and chose SSL colours (grey and purple) for the profile’s background. The profile has since been updated to the new style which does not show the colours quite as they were originally, but the famous SSL purple can still be seen here and there!

SSL Twitter profile
The SSL’s Twitter profile

After some research and deliberation, I took the advice I found in some of the books I had read about Twitter; I created a macrocosm of 10 tweets that would act as a good example of what the SSL’s Twitter feed would be like. These 10 tweets were comprised of factual information and slightly more light-hearted and interesting things to prevent the feed from becoming too boring.  These more light-hearted posts would always be related to the Social Sciences, Libraries, or Higher Education, to keep it relevant to our readers. It was only after this had been done that we started to think about who we would follow and how we would interact with others.

We decided that, as one of the Bodleian Libraries, it would be appropriate to follow the other libraries who were on Twitter. We also decided to follow the University Colleges and departments that seemed relevant to us, and then a few external Tweeters like the LSE Impact Blog (@LSEImpactBlog) and the British Library (@britishlibrary). This all helps to keep us up to date with things that might affect us, and also provides us with new material to retweet for our followers.

Recently it has also been my job to write a comprehensive set of instructions in a Staff Manual entry for using Twitter at the SSL. As it turns out, writing instructions can be quite a length process. It has been very useful though, as by going through everything in detail I have been able to spot some ways that current processes can be improved, leading to a more effective service for our readers.

So far Twitter seems to be working well. It helps to ensure all of the information we need our readers to know is getting out where they can see it, and it provides a good method for readers to get in contact with us if they have any concerns. Of course, this can work both ways too…

Existential Crisis
I must admit I felt a little bad about this one…

SSL <3 Your Books Project

In addition to dealing with the Library’s social media output, trainees at the Social Science Library are responsible for assessing and repairing damaged books under the guidance of the Acquisitions Senior Library Assistant. As part of trying to improve the general care of our collection we decided to launch the ‘SSL <3 Your Books Project’ (also known as the ‘SSL Love Your Books Project’). This project hoped to tackle collection care at the level of readers, by encouraging them to take steps to look after the books that they borrowed from us.

While many of us worked on different aspects of the project, I was responsible for creating a small selection of bookmarks that would be handed out to readers during the week that we promoted the project. After taking various factors into consideration (like what we would like the bookmarks to look like, what message we were trying to get across, and whether we could afford to print them using a commercial maker) we decided to use a simple and colourful design on sturdy white paper-card. We decided to advertise the project on one side of each bookmark, and on the reverse each would advertise a different part of the Technical Services team at the SSL.

Here is a picture of the finished product, along with the project’s logo:-

Everybody loves bookmarks, right?
Everybody loves bookmarks, right?

In addition to this I was also responsible for writing and publishing the Blog post that would go live on the SSL’s blog, and drafting the information that would go on the SSL’s website (even where the information would be displayed and how a user might navigate towards it!). Though this took some time, I hope you’ll agree that they explain everything you might want to know about the project. These pages can all be found at and

I feel like I’ve done rather a lot during my trainee year, and I very much hope that next year’s trainees all get to experience as much as I have. This will be the last post from me as I leave next week to take up a permanent role at one of the Colleges… Wish me luck!

Luke Jackson-Ross – Graduate Trainee – Bodleian Social Science Library

Join the conversation with Twitter – an RSL event

Hi everyone, Kat from the law library here again. On Wednesday, I attended a lunchtime talk at the Radcliffe Science Library entitled ‘Join the conversation with Twitter’. It featured three speakers talking about the use of twitter by libraries, and I found it really interesting, so much so that I thought I’d share some of the things I took away. You can see a synopsis of the talk on the RSL’s Facebook page.

First, Michael O’Hagan (@OHaganMichael) talked about the research he did for his library school dissertation, which was a study of academic libraries using twitter. He looked at lots of different academic libraries’ twitter analytics, and tried to get a picture of what they used twitter for, how much interaction there was with other people, who those people were, what the interaction was about, and how popular twitter seemed to be as a method of communication. Personally, if you’d asked me to guess the answers to these questions, I might have pessimistically expected a lot of interaction and followers to be other librarians and libraries, and for there not to be much interaction with genuine readers. So I was pleasantly surprised when he explained that, actually, there seemed to be quite a bit of interaction with readers asking questions and giving feedback about library services, which is a promising sign that Twitter is a good method of communication. He also had quite a bit of advice about how to use Twitter more effectively in libraries, based on the most successful institutions he’d looked at. This included:

  • Tweet frequently! Also, given that it’s very easy to miss things on Twitter if you follow lots of people, if there’s something you really want people to notice, try tweeting different phrasings of it several times over the course of a day.
  • Follow other feeds that are part of your institution: Oxford University, the Bodleian, your department or faculty, academics who have professional twitter accounts. Then retweet things you think are interesting or relevant. This starts a conversation with other twitter accounts which may have larger or different followings, which can help to increase your exposure.
  • Keep track of what people are saying about you – if people reply or retweet anything you post then Twitter will let you know anyway, but it’s worth looking for indirect references (for example, if someone just writes ‘law bod’ in a tweet but doesn’t use @thelawbod). You can also search by location to restrict to mentions in Oxford.
  • If readers have specific questions about the library, respond as quickly as possible. Twitter comes with the expectation of immediate response, which can be a problem if you’re not checking it regularly.
  • However, don’t be creepy! If someone refers to your library in a conversation but isn’t asking a question, then maybe don’t jump in – it is going on in a public space, but having an institutional account reply to a twitter conversation between a few readers might be a bit much!
  • Use pictures and links – tweets with these are more likely to be retweeted (unsurprisingly) which increases the number of people reading them.

Next, Isabel Holowaty (@iholowaty) gave a presentation with tips and advice about using Twitter from her use of it for the History Faculty Library (@HFLOxford). She also showcased using an iPad to present via a projector, which was very cool! She recommended using a programme/app which allows you to see information about several twitter accounts without constantly signing in and out (which you have to do on the twitter website), and showed us HootSuite, the one she uses. This allows you to link all sorts of different social media accounts: different Twitters, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, even WordPress for blogs, and produces columns showing feeds for each of them. You can pick what appears in each column, for example your sent tweets, mentions, retweets or direct messages, and can search your different accounts, save searches, and tweet from any account. It definitely seemed like an alternative to just using twitter’s website (which is what I currently do), because it saves you from having to sign in and out to change account. I would be a bit worried about accidentally retweeting or following someone from the Law Bod’s account rather than my own, though! HootSuite also allows you to schedule tweets for a later date, which I thought sounded useful as well. At the Law Bod, we’ve just started a Twitter rota (more below), where different staff take a morning or an afternoon and tweet a few things they think are interesting. I’ve found since signing up that quite often I have all these ideas throughout the week and then on Monday afternoons: nothing! It would be great to be able to schedule some that aren’t time-dependent when I think of them to go out on Monday afternoon, and then just check them over on the day. Isabel also advised searching for your library to find indirect references, including all possible misspellings of Bodleian! She also pointed out that if your library has a blog, and new blog posts get tweeted about, it’s worth coming up with a punchy title, otherwise your tweets look a bit boring.

HootSuite for @thelawbod
HootSuite for @thelawbod

Lastly, Penny Schenk (@galoot) talked about my library, the Law Bod, as a case study of an academic library using Twitter. She explained that we’ve recently started a Twitter rota, and that this has massively increased our activity on Twitter, and also the variety of different things we tweet about. We try to follow mostly organisations rather than individuals, to ensure things stay professional. The rota means that we hopefully tweet every working day, which has definitely helped increase our following. She also suggested using the ‘follow friday’ meme (where Twitter users suggest a person they follow who they think writes interesting things) to build conversations with other users.

I found the talk really interesting, and definitely think the Law Bod should take everyone’s suggestions on board. I’ll by trying out HootSuite, and retweeting more things from the Law Faculty, the Bodleian, and Oxford on my Monday afternoon slots! Judging by the History Faculty Library’s almost 2,500 followers, frequent, interesting, varied tweets and retweets with links and pictures seem to be the way forward.

Thanks for reading and, if you like, follow @thelawbod or me, @kastrel (although be prepared for anything from cross stitch to formula one, as I tweet on all sorts of things).

Too many tweets make a…successful and engaged library service?

Hi everyone, I’ve written some thoughts about Twitter. Would be interested to hear if/how/why you use it at your libraries, and any answers to the thorny question below.


 “A Twitter feed for the library! What’s the point in that?”


What is a library without a Twitter feed these days?  Given the number of us who lovingly tend our accounts on a daily basis, letting our readers know with admirable foresight any alterations to opening hours, or perhaps informing the world that e-journal access is not currently working (No, wait! It’s back. Oh no, it’s gone again), you could be forgiven for thinking that the answer is ‘not very much’.  Alongside the irresistible rise of 23 Things and the ubiquity of the library blog, the little blue bird has become a sure sign of the tech savvy, forward thinking Library (2.0). Without it, you’re really nothing but a collection of books.  And who wants that?

I’ve been cultivating the Taylor Slavonic’s feed since I started. We’ve had our ups (currently being followed by the Telegraph’s Moscow correspondent) and our downs (also being followed, for reasons I don’t fully understand, by Elite Chauffeurs – “Hackneys and Executive cars for all occassions”), but on the whole we’ve seen the follower count go up to 195 and even had a few re-tweets. So far, so good. But aside from the obvious satisfaction of having more followers than the Taylorian (a derisory 165), I’m still curious as to why exactly it is that I spend about an hour a day finding stuff to tweet about, tweeting it, and paying attention to the tweets of others. Or, as one of our readers put it a touch more bluntly, while glancing at my lovingly crafted poster, “A twitter feed for the library! What’s the point in that?

Bill Drew of Tompkins Cortland Community College Library, NY, provides a succinct overview of why a library might be interested in Twitter, including being able to keep readers up to date with library developments, providing a reference service such as local news, and enquiring after readers’ opinions quickly and easily. This said, the majority of Drew’s reasons, good though they are, relate more to the institutional side of libraries rather than to reader services. For example, networking, keeping up with other libraries, following notable information professionals, none of which answer my reader’s question.

One way to respond would be to explain what we tweet about and why. As you can see from the poster, the aim was to expand the scope a little further than simply info about our Christmas holiday dates (24th Dec – 3rd Jan, in case you’re interested, but you’re not, are you?):

Twitter Poster

In short, if an event, news story, broadcast, resource or person relates either academically or culturally to any language in our library (and we have quite a few), then it gets tweeted. Over the past few weeks @TABSOxford has tweeted about: online resources for Russian history; digitisation projects of Byzantine manuscripts; details of free film screenings in Oxford; a whole host of lectures and seminars; times and dates of concerts in Oxford; and a fair few re-tweets for articles and websites of potential interest.

And why? Well, I like to think that in its own modest way, the feed is a place to:

I also hope that all this works cumulatively to make the library seem:

  •  Engaged and connected with the faculty and its subjects
  •  A hub for relevant interesting information (broader than simply being that building with all the books in it)
  •  Up to date and shiny – unlike the décor.

But what you put up on Twitter is only half the story. Or, rather, if no one is reading your story, then there is very little point in writing it. Because Twitter is the high demand shelf of the internet: small pieces of information that are needed at a particular time, briefly, but by many people. If your tweets are not being read and used, it doesn’t matter how valuable or interesting they may be, they don’t belong there. Twitter is not some sort of digital archive where information has value independent of use, imbued with a kind of potential irrespective of whether or not it’s consulted frequently (or at all). It’s all about temporary, widespread dissemination and, crucially, reception. In short, the best Twitter feeds link good information with the people who want it.

So I suppose the only way of answering my reader’s question would be to say, because our followers use it. At least I hope they do. Luckily, I know a good way to ask them. I’ll get back to you.