Monday, April 23, 2007

How I found a good use for Twitter

I did it! I was able to take all of the library's notifications and put them into twitter.

I set up our twitter account at

Then I dumped all of the library's rss feeds into

The great part about that is that twitter feeds itself. No staff time is required except to check to make sure it is working. I dumped the new books, new videos, new audio, new large print, the google event calendar (, library news, library programs, and all of our newsletters rss feeds into it (

Now every time the library has an update, a library event, a new book or video, or new newsletter, it goes automatically to twitter. I have set up most of the library's information this way. We have a content management system through Bookletters ( that automatically produces newsletters on books, from Fiction, to Non-fiction, to books in the news. We also have custom newsletters for library events that are posted on the libray's website and are sent via email. Everything also goes through our blog at and finally it goes through Twitter.

I have to find a way to get messages down to 140 characters so that the entire message is received via a text messag. If the content is too long for the message, it automatically creates a tiny url. Like this:

Reading comprehension success in 20 minutes a day. :

Which doesn't work too badly, but I think most users wouldn't go to the link. I think if there was a program that day related to the user, a new book, or just to send a message that the library is now open and the library is now closed might be some very practical uses. I haven't placed it on our website yet or advertised it. I only recently was able to get it to work so I was very excited about that.

Now I just need to customize the feeds a bit for different users, but I was amazed at how easy it was to set it up. I don't know how many users will subscribe to it, but the functionality is there. I bet the more I can customize it, the more people will subscribe since customizing will not make it overwhelming. Its amazing how many free things there are out there that provide great service!


Memo said...

This is great stuff! I set up a "beta" Twitter account within my library as a notification system--but just for library staff--so that we're aware of issues that come up at the reference desk (broken printer, staff issues, computer problems, etc.).

So far I'm getting mixed reviews as I only have two staff willing to try it (then again, they forget to sign on and twit so the whole concept is quickly going down in flames).

But your use of Twitter coupled with the RSS feature is great. It's something I can show staff so they can get a different take on Twitter.

Jeff said...

I think regular notifications will work. Automating it allows you to play with it and NOT burn yourself out on it. This is how I introduce new technology concepts in a rural area: it's free, it doesn't require staff!

Emily said...

What a great idea!
Maybe Twitter can be useful, after all!