Would you ever make your library tweetstream private?

Hi, remember me? I used to blog regularly, and then life happened. And for some reason, some of you still follow/read/ask questions. I apologise for being a slacker, and will try to make more of an effort to keep this up-to-date. I went away to Toronto for a couple of weeks and, when I came back, saw that I'd received a few emails from people asking if I'm likely to feature some more 'From the floor' posts, and the answer is, "Yes, absolutely, I just get distracted by shiny, pretty things and wander off track for ages." Some of you may remember, from my last post, that I was going to make an effort to answer your queries out loud (albeit anonymously). I've randomly pulled this one out of all of the ones you've sent, and I want to make something clear before I answer it. I'm not a guru. Not by any stretch of the imagination. If I heard anyone else refer to themselves that way I'd probably get up and leave and/or spit tacks. I rate 'social media guru' right up there with 'carpetbagger.' Harsh? Probably, and yet I'm unrepentant about voicing that. I'm just a girl with a laptop, and broadband, and a whole lot of opinion.

Query: Would you ever make your library tweetstream private?
Quick answer: No.

More thoughtful answer: Hell no. Not ever. The point of social media is to be 'social' however and wherever our customers feel that should happen. I feel it would be a little bit elitist if we made our stream private and only chatted/shared info or news with those we 'approve' of. (How do we decide who we'll approve of? Who will make that decision? What criteria will be used? How often will we review those criteria? How much say would I have in that? It's too much of a value judgement I'm not prepared to ever be in a position to make). As far as I'm concerned, a public library is every man's community space and, as such, I'll treat our tweetstream that same way. It's not often I'll divert conversations into Direct Message, either. I, personally, prefer to solve issues/find answers out loud. If an issue you're handling doesn't involve anything private/confidential then solve it where everyone can see it. I wish more libraries would do it. Social media is also about building stronger, relevant online communities, and I feel a locked tweetstream would kind of go against that. Or at least would only make SOME of our community stronger. I think all are entitled to that. Sure, there's the 'marketing' element which, as most of you who follow our work tweetstream will know, we don't do on a large scale. For a couple of reasons. I would find it somewhat wanky and pretentious to constantly push out content/links that are all about the organisation. (I call it a form of 'technical masturbation'). There's nothing particularly interesting in that, and it's kind of arrogant to assume that's all people expect of a public library. Our interests are as diverse as our customers, so I'm not about to dumb them down (and myself in the process) by assuming they're not interested in literacy, geekery and nerdery, library matters, technology, local happenings, etc. I'm also of the opinion that our 'customers' are not restricted to those who physically visit our community libraries. Our customers are individuals and/or organisations who have an interest in, or query about, us. We should be removing barriers, not putting them up, and I feel that that is all a private tweetstream would be for our organisation: a barrier.

Having said that, what other libraries do is their business. I don't expect that all of you will agree with any/all of the above. The world would be a very boring place if that were, indeed, the case. So feel free to leave your comments below.

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