The Greater Victoria Public Library is a good example of a library that
hasn’t spread itself too thin when it comes to social media. Instead of
having a YouTube channel, Twitter feed and a Facebook, the GVPL has
decided to concentrate on Twitter. By concentrating their effort on one form of
social media, the library can create quality content and reply to patrons’
queries and concerns in a timely fashion, rather than be scattered and try
to reach out to the highest number of people. Sarah Milstein has also
stated on Information Today that libraries should post several times a day
without overwhelming users, and that it is not advisable to let the
account go silent for an extended period of time. GVPL has been able to
strike a balance between too many posts and not enough, posting at least
once a day and taking the time to respond to patrons’ tweets. The link to
the library’s Twitter feed is fairly easy to find on the homepage.
Although it is buried at the bottom of the page, it is grouped with
relevant related information, such as other methods of contacting the
library. However, in order to truly streamline the process, I’d like to
see the library add a “follow us on Twitter” link to their contact page, as other modes of contact are listed here, and it just makes sense to include all contact
information together. Certainly if I was just looking at the top half of
the page, I’d be more inclined to go to the contact page. This makes it
easy for non-Twitter users to start using the Twitter feed, as the link
goes right to the Twitter website where new users can create an account if
they so desire. If they just want to read the tweets without subscribing,
that is possible as well.

The Twitter feed integrates well into the overall atmosphere of the
Greater Victoria Public Library. It furthers an ethos of outreach to the
public, which is embodied in everything from “Guys Night Out Toddler Time”
(“for babies and the guys who love them!”) to the Twitter feed, and the
library comes across as personable and fun. The tweets on the feed itself
are quite varied, with everything from information about book-related
activities to quotes from Maya Angelou to pysanky (Ukrainian painted eggs)
decorating workshops. The librarian who maintains the Twitter feed is
actively involved with the community, and responds positively to posts
such as “my local branches have an abysmal audio selection, and sadly,
most CDs aren’t available through inter-library loans, @gvpl”. As Social Media Butterfly Librarian says: would you ignore a billboard outside your business that read ‘You Suck’?”  That’s exactly what’s happening when business don’t do a bit of damage control on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook, so it’s nice to see the GVPL is dismantling those billboards before too many people can see them, so to speak.  Jonathan Bodnar and Arneet Doshi note in their 2011 article Asking the Right Questions: A Critique of Facebook, Social Media and Libraries that some libraries may be afraid of using social media because they cannot necessarily control their online image. While this is true, patrons are likely to complain whether the library is there to hear them or not, so it’s better for libraries to be able to access these comments and respond to them, thereby doing a bit of damage control. Unlike the quote about taking social media and making it lamer, I think the GVPL has been able to successfully integrate Twitter into their overall service
structure. They engage with the community at large, posting about the
movies Tintin and the Hunger Games, and often reply to patron queries and
comments the same day that they are posted. I think it’s great that they don’t shy away from replying to negative comments and trying to put a positive spin on them. This is definitely a library that uses HootSuite social media software, and it’s nice to see that they are effectively utilizing its potential.

Social media librarians at the GVPL actively engage with their patrons via Twitter

I used to be a patron at GVPL and never used the Twitter service, although
now that I’ve started to review it more, I think when I move back to
Victoria, I will follow the library on Twitter. They don’t bombard their
followers with meaningless tweets, and offer a wide variety of topics of interest to all members of the community, including librarians looking for work. I find the links they post to be relevant to library patrons, and I appreciate the fact that they engage in dialogues with their patrons, even if it is just to say “thanks!”. It’s difficult to provide suggestions as to how the GVPL could improve their social media service, although it would be nice to see more a personal biography in the “about us” section of Twitter.  The tweets are handled tactfully and effectively, and it would be nice to know who is responsible for this.

I’d say the GVPL Twitter feeds gets 5 stars, even from a social media-hating dinosaur like myself.

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