social media

Five questions about the tweet wall in New York

As social media, especially Twitter, continues to play a role in how we interact, communicate and engage, a conversation ensues about similar interests.

As social media, especially Twitter, continues to play a role in how we interact, communicate and engage, a conversation ensues about similar interests. In New York, the Public Library has begun collecting the conversation about not only library events, but also that of literature and the culture of literature in the digital age.

Recently, Kettle interviewed Lauren Lampasone, the organiser of the tweet wall, and asked for her assessment on the project and Twitter’s effect on the appreciation of literature. Here is that conversation.

How did the idea for the tweet wall come about? Was this something you thought would be possible?

As part of my role at the library I monitor our social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook. I am mainly looking to see if people have questions about library collections and services that I can help with. But many times I also see active sharing of our collections that our patrons are doing, not to us directly, but within their own networks for their friends and colleagues.

As a librarian it is heart-warming to see the observations and connections people make with our content! That means our collections are being used and that is what we want to happen, it’s why we exist. I was looking for a way to surface that activity in a more prominent way to be able to show it to staff and patrons who might not be as glued to social media as I am.

So I was interested in creating a tool that would visualize what people were saying about the items in our collection. I also wanted it to show the network effect that happens when something gets retweeted and shared multiple times and all the commentary that happens along the way. Luckily I was able to explain the concept to my husband Todd who was able to program a tool that would do it. We developed it in our spare time together.

What role do you think Twitter has had when it comes to libraries and the appreciation of literature?

In the larger scheme of things, not that many people are active Twitter users, but a lot of book people and authors do congregate there. I think Twitter provides an element of serendipity that many of us miss when we are read electronically, as we’re not necessarily browsing print shelves.

A Twitter user I follow might link to a book or a review and their short 140-character assessment hooks me in quickly, and I can see if it is something I am interested in learning more about. I might not always have time to read longer book reviews, so Twitter might not offer in-depth analysis, but is a good way to get “this is great” or “I’m reading this right now” or “you might like this if…”

With the development of this, what do you think this says about the direction of Twitter and social media when it comes to libraries and literature?

I hope it helps people get a sense of how much library patrons use and enjoy our collections every day, around the clock. It is a little bit like overhearing a conversation between friends, but filtered to where you only see the books and image collections they are discussing.

I think that libraries are trying to stay a part of these conversations and be present, so that when readers are looking for a good book or need help finding information, they know we are already there and ready to help! We want to be a resource and be easily accessible.

Do you see other libraries implementing features similar to the Tweet Wall?

I don’t know yet, but the source is available for anyone to use on GitHub!

What do you think will keep the wall going moving forward?

As long as people are using Twitter and tweeting about books, media, images, articles, and videos from the library we will try to maintain the tweet wall. We’ll also work to add new types of content as we notice them or as things evolve.

What do you think? Should other libraries create the tweet wall? How has Twitter effected the appreciation of literature? Have your say in the comments section below.

Image: OptimiumPx / Wikimedia Commons