Thursday, 27 October 2011

LibCampUK11 Session 5: Social media and #UKLibChat

This session was originally pitched as a social media surgery, but was split into two groups.  Those needing specific advice on aspects of social media stayed in the cafe area, and the rest of us discussed #UKLibChat led by members of the organising team.

#UKLibChat is a fortnightly discussion group that takes place on Twitter, usually from 6-8pm on a Thursday.  It’s only been going since July and was inspired by the #libchat sessions run by Natalie Binder on Wednesdays from 8-9.30pm EST.  All topics for discussion are proposed by participants and are added to an agenda posted on the #UKLibChat website and Twitter the week preceding the talk. After the discussions are over the conversations are summarised and placed on the site

We seemed to be evenly split between those who had never heard of libchat; those that had, but either rarely or never took part; and those that were regular participants.

 The #UKLibChat team, after explaining the background of libchat started asking for feedback, what people liked about it, what could be improved, what were the barriers preventing people from using it.
  • They started with asking those that had used #UKLibChat what they liked about it;
  • A lot of people talked about how they appreciated how easy it made getting in touch with other librarians, and learning about other sectors. 
  • There seemed to be a bit of a split between those who thought the agendas were very helpful for focusing thoughts, and allowing time to prepare, and those that found it a little too structured and contrary to the ethos of Twitter. 
  • There was a universal consensus that the write ups posted on the website after the discussions are very useful.
Then users were asked what they didn’t like;
  • Some felt that the question format was off putting, particularly if you feel you don’t have time to get your answers out, or if you have joined the discussion half way through, something a little less formal would be preferred.
  • Many people were not keen on the ‘introduce yourself first’ aspect, they felt it discouraged people from joining in if they were not there at the start when all the introductions were being made.
  • Some people felt that having it at a specific time was contrary to Twitter, but then there were plenty of others who appreciated having a focused time to chat.
From this developed a discussion with those people that don’t take part, and the reasons for doing so, and what the #UKLibChat team could do to remedy it;
  • There seemed to be a popular misconception that #UKLibChat was only for students, so they need to get the message out that it is not just a student thing.
  • People felt that if they had no knowledge or experience in the subject under discussion then they hesitated to get involved.
  • A lot of people find Twitter intimidating, and following live chats even more so.  The team already recommends the use of Tweetdeck or a similar tool to take part, but the suggestion was made that they could provide how-to-guides and tips on Twitter on their website as well.
Also discussed were the other Twitter chats that people took part in such as;
#tlchat  - school librarian chat
#ukedchat - the UK focused version of #edchat
And what #UKLibChat can learn from them.

An interesting discussion also arose as to whether there was a generational gap between those using Twitter and those using email lists.  There was definitely a feeling that mailing lists are more formal and an impression that you need to be an experienced librarian to use them.  At the opposite end Twitter chats seemed to be used more by newer professionals.

To close we had a more general discussion on using Twitter to create communities.
Some of tips included;
  • Have a core group that will always be dedicated to contributing
  • It’s better to start small, and have plenty of action, than to create something big that doesn’t see any use.
  • Take advantage of existing networks to advertise what you are doing.
  • Link to blogs so people can get extra information.
Even though I was flagging a bit from information (and sugar!) overload, I still found I got a great deal from the final session.  I'll be looking forward to the next Library Camp!

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