In Part 1 of Twitter for Youth Librarians, I gave you an introduction to Twitter. Today, I’m going to offer a few ways librarians and other youth advocates can use the service to enhance their professional service.
Connect with other librarians
Librarians are definitely one group who have taken to Twitter. They are sharing information and creating global connections. Follow other young adult librarians to find resources, see what others are reading, and get program ideas. By following a lot of others, it’s easy to get an overview of the hot topics and trends as they’re happening. It’s also a slightly different perspective than just reading blogs or professional literature because Twitter has less barriers to entry. And the format can be more manageable to stay on top of than RSS feeds and blogs.
It’s also an interesting way to attend conferences virtually. All conferences these days establish a hash tag (a set of characters users add to the end of their tweet), making it easy to follow all tweets written at that conference. It can be a bit overwhelming — big conferences mean hundreds of tweets per hour — but it’s worth taking a look at periodically. There can be off-the-cuff, candid reactions, plus lots of links and tidbits of information from presentations. And if you’re at the conference, it’s a good way to find out where the hot ARCs and receptions are!
I’ve started a list of teen and youth librarians to get you started.
Follow authors and others in the publishing world
The YA authors I follow are probably the most active and entertaining users in my Twitter feed. They write equally about their personal lives and their writing lives, and because that community is small, they tend to interact with each other through re-Tweets and @ replies. It’s a fascinating look into the creative process (even best-selling authors have writer’s block) and a great source of information on upcoming books, author appearances, and other book-related news. The rest of the publishing world is also embracing Twitter as both a marketing tool and a way to interact with their customers. There are lots of editors, agents, sales reps and publishing houses with accounts and they’re also sharing lots of insights into publishing trends and book news.
BloggingYA has a long list of YA Authors on Twitter, Sharon Loves Books and Cats has a list of YA book bloggers, and I’ve started compiling a list of editors, agents, and other publishing people.
Participate in Tweetchats
Tweetchats happen when groups of people come together to Tweet about a particular topic at a certain time using a predetermined hashtag. There are several literature-related Tweetchats including #kidlitchat and #YALitChat. InkyGirl has a nice guide to getting started with Tweetchats.
Stay up-to-date with pop culture trends
Being a good librarian isn’t just knowing about books. It’s equally important to keep up with other pop culture trends and to know what your teens are interested in. Follow celebrities like Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato or track trending topics like Jonas and Twilight. Several teen magazines and teen-oriented TV channels are also serving up pop culture gossip on Twitter. Check out my list of teen media for some users to follow.
Peek into the lives of real teens
While the average teen may not Twitter, there is a contingent of extremely media-savvy teens who are embracing the medium. There’s 17-year-old Jane (@sea_of_shoes) from Sea of Shoes, a fashion blogger who’s attracted the likes of Chanel and Urban Outfitters. Sixteen-year-old Daniel (@danielbru) has over 120,000 followers, owns his own teen-focused tech companies, and writes for national technology blogs. And 14-year-old Melik (@gotmelik) is a blogger, designer, and entrepreneur.
Get to know your local area
Twitter’s great for making connections globally, but it’s also a good tool for keeping up with local news and events. Do a search for your town to find local papers, radio stations, and other community organizations to follow. It’s always useful to know what’s going on in your area, and if you start Tweeting about your library’s events, it’s another advertising channel to get the word out.
Twitter can be a bit overwhelming and perplexing for newcomers, and you don’t need to go all out at first. Start by following a few people to get the hang of things. See who they’re ReTweeting, replying to, and following to add to your list. If you add too many people, keeping up with all your incoming tweets can be impossible. You also don’t need to be a prolific Tweeter — there’s no shame in just passively following people to get a feel for what’s going on. And if you decide it’s not for you, move on!