Everything I Needed to Know about Twitter I Learned at Midwinter

After a whirlwind weekend of meetings, awards and live blogging, it’s a wonder my thumbs are intact. Like many ALA members, I spent Friday through Monday largely on Twitter, hashtagging with the best of them.

Whether or not teens tweet, it’s clear that librarians do. And from last year’s ALA “secrets” to this year’s Newbery leak, it seems that library conferences are the impetus for both the best and worst in crowdsourcing.

As someone who just loves statistics, I spent plenty of time using Twitterfall to let the #alamw10 tweets wash over me. That search was quickly a little too overwhelming–does every ALA member use Twitter?!–so I switched to tags like #yalsa and #libs30, which many of us attending (or just tweeting about) Libraries 3.0: Teen Edition used to discuss the YALSA Midwinter Institute.

Libraries 3.0 was a fantastic illustration of the best of Twitter. All three FLIP Your Library! presenters (@VennLibrarian, @wsstephens and @buffyjhamilton, respectively) tweeted throughout the day, including the time when their co-presenters were speaking. Buffy J. Hamilton attended virtually, presenting using Skype and screen sharing, and proved she was paying attention to our ad hoc hashtag when she mentioned one of the tweets.

Other tweets ranged from the practical (plenty of “Anybody know where ____ is?” and “Help! I’m lost!” updates) to the humorous (commentary on the number of Boston hotels with “Copley” in the name, quips about the distracting nature of #sexylibrarians). Everyone from Library Journal to the ALA Member Blog offered up their picks for “top” tweets from Midwinter.

And then, of course, there was the leak.

Seventeen minutes might not seem like a big deal, but to those of us tweeting the Youth Media Awards Monday morning, learning the Newbery Award winner early was quite the spoiler. The original leak didn’t come from a librarian, but plenty of librarians passed it along–including unwittingly, as I did when I decided to include the hashtag #alayma in our live blog of the Awards.

In a sense, the Midwinter tweets are a microcosm of our professional community. We’re constantly sharing information, making judgments, letting our personal feelings slip, and standing up for our passions and our profession.

What can 140 characters tell you about teen librarians?

About mk Eagle

I'm the librarian at Holliston High School, a bit west of Boston. In my spare time I advise my school's yearbook and Gay Straight Alliance, write about food, and root for the Red Sox.
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4 Comments

  1. As someone who spent a lot of time at Midwinter in meetings, I very much appreciate all of the tweeting since it was my way to catch-up on what I wasn’t able to participate in.

    I spend a lot of time thinking about how Twitter is a professional development tool and I think this post is a perfect example of how that works. We can all learn from each other via Twitter, and even if not at a meeting, a workshop, or a conference, learning can happen via Twitter and outside of the face-to-face environment

    Thanks for the great thought-provoking post and thanks to all the Midwinter tweeters and for that matter bloggers too.

  2. I try and use Twitter more, but I really only use it for events like this. I was on Twitter a lot during ALA annual last year. This year I wasn’t able to make it to Midwinter, so the tweets kept me in the know.

    I’ve also used Twitter for quick responses to reader’s advisory questions which has worked. I think it’s a great way to connect with others.

  3. I love Twitter for reader’s advisory! I asked a question just yesterday and immediately got some great suggestions to add to a book order.

  4. I have been on Twitter for exactly one week now. I signed up solely to keep up with events at Midwinter, as it was my first ALA conference. I had no idea the professional development & networking tool it can be. I have learned so much this week following various people on Twitter; it has really opened up the publishing and librarian world up for me.

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