Seattle Public Library made waves several years ago when they opened their new downtown building, which at first glance, seems to be made entirely of glass. It’s a stunning building, and a stop for many visitors to Seattle, myself included. So, after having seen how their fancy new library building compares to others, I decided to see how their Twitter and Facebook pages stack up against the world’s best and brightest.
First, let’s look at how we find the Facebook and Twitter links from the homepage. They’re buried down at the bottom of the page, which is fine because they’re with the other contact information, but both the Facebook and Twitter icons are blue. This wouldn’t be a big deal, if the footer that they’re embedded in wasn’t also blue. I must admit that it took me a moment to find them, as they didn’t stand out as well as those listed on the page of the State Library of Russia, for example. Perhaps it’s the contrast on my laptop screen, but I’m pretty sure one of the big tips we were given (and graded on!) for LIBR 500 was to ensure that our webpages were easy to read and the colours didn’t detract from readability. This is not easy to read. For shame, Seattle!
Anyways, once a user locates the links, they’re easy to use. One click and you land on the Facebook page. Let’s explore further, shall we? The cool thing about the Seattle page, is that they have a link to “ask a librarian” directly on the Facebook Timeline. Nice work, SPL! As Meredith Farkas noted in her 2011 lecture “Going Where Your Patrons Are“, “there’s a big difference between ‘being where our users are’ and being USEFUL to our users where they are.'” This is a prime example of the latter. Another great thing about their use of Timeline is that they are replying to posts that have nothing to do with the library but everything to do with books. It’s nice to see them engaging in conversations with their patrons, as both Andy Burkhardt (Information Tyrannosaur) and Sarah Milstein (Information Today) have remarked that it is important to use social media as a tool to facilitate conversation.
Moving on over to the Twitter page, we see more blue, but this time it’s legible. Oddly enough, SPL’s logo looks a lot like that of Continental Airlines, but it’s nice to see that they’ve got it placed prominently on the Twitter page. The “about us” blurb is probably one of those most descriptive and personable ones I’ve seen yet, and it still manages to include contact information within the limitations of 140 characters. They follow over 200 other accounts and have a massive 2,232 followers! This is obviously a library that’s doing something right. They tweet almost every day, and respond promptly to patrons’ concerns. It’s nice to see that they’re easily findable on Twitter by having “SPL” in their Twitter handle, but they’ve jazzed it up a bit by calling themselves “SPLBuzz”. The SPL really takes Sarah Milstein and Information Today‘s advice to heart: “do treat Twitter as a conversation rather than a broadcast medium.”
What I really like about this Twitter account is that they tweet about their bookmobile for housebound patrons. This is great! Why don’t other libraries mention this on their Twitter feeds? Maybe they do, but I certainly didn’t see it anywhere else. I find it a very inclusive move on the part of the SPL, and it’s nice to see that not only have they tweeting about events that take place at the library, they’re updating patrons who can’t get to the branch about events that affect them. They have everything from how to place a hold, to events, to the bookmobile to where to access interviews that might be of interest to patrons.
I think the following tweet says it all: