Twittering All Over
It seems you can't go anywhere recently without hearing about Twitter in the news. Astronauts are tweeting, a hospital tweeted updates during a hysterectomy, and even President Obama has a Twitter account.
USA Today reports traffic to Twitter has soared within the last few months. "Worldwide visitors neared 10 million in February, up more than 700 percent in a year. In the U.S., Twitter hit 4 million visitors -- up more than 1,000 percent from a year ago." This isn't just for the young. The article reports 45-54 year olds are the 36% more likely to visit Twitter.
I ran across two interesting articles on Twitter, "How to be a Better Tweeter," on cnet news and an article in BuisnessWeek, "Twitter: Building Businesses Tweet by Tweet."
I have a Twitter account and I tweet. I like it but I just don't seem to feel a connection with Twitter as I do with blogging or using email. I feel a like I could be a better tweeter. I enjoy following my friends. But as Twitter has become more popular more people have found me and asked to "follow" me. As a general rule I usually accepted people I knew or who had something to do with medicine or libraries. My smallish group of friends on Twitter has become a larger group of people, some I have met once, some I know of only by name, and others I have not met nor may never meet. As my Twitter world expands I have begun to question whether my tweets about a finding a good fish fry one Friday evening were really Twitter worthy. The cnet article has confirmed my personal suspicions, I could be a better tweeter. Not only do I need to start thinking about what I tweet but also remember to re-tweet interesting tweets within the Twitter stream and to use hashtags for hot topics.
Twitter is not just for individuals. A whole slew of groups, organizations, media outlets, and businesses are creating a presence on Twitter. Twitter is just another method for businesses to reach out to current clients or potential clients. The BusinessWeek article mentions how one consultant found 10 new paying clients within the last six months through Twitter and how a t-shirt company uses Twitterpic to help ordering customers see their designs ahead of time. Businesses aren't the only ones using Twitter to reach clients. Large group of libraries have also set up Twitter accounts as well. Curiosity got the better of me one day and I decided to search Twitter for all accounts with library in the name. There were 605. The vast majority were public libraries but I ran across 4 law libraries and 3 medical libraries. The two medical libraries I found were ucsf_library -UCSF Library Academic health sciences library, MDAndersonLib - MD Anderson Library The Research Medical Library serves the staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, fiumedlib - FIU Medical Library Medical Library of Florida International University College of Medicine.
There are a lot of hospitals and medical schools on Twitter, just a quick search on medical yielded 169 accounts and a search on hospital found 81. While not all of those accounts were medical schools or hospitals, a vast majority were. This got me thinking about medical library vendors, I did a short brainstorming session and did a search for as many companies and vendors that are used in medical libraries.
Here is what I found:
- MHMedical -McGraw-Hill Medical Updates, news, special offers, and other tweets from McGraw-Hill’s Medical Editorial team.
- McGrawHillTweet -McGrawHill Tweets Latest updates and news on publications from McGrawHill.
- mdconsult -Medical news from MD Consult
- 2collab - Elsevier's 2collab The research collaboration tool from Elsevier
- SciTopics -Elsevier's SciTopics Research summaries by experts
- elsmedstudents -Elsevier Med Student Resources for Medical Students from Elsevier, Student Consult & USMLE Consult, Netter
- ELSORTHOPAEDICS - Elsevier Orthopaedic Elsevier produces the world's finest selection of health care textbooks, reference books, review books, periodicals, electronic titles, and online resources.
- ELS_RADIOLOGY - ELSEVIER RADIOLOGY Elsevier produces the world's finest selection of health care textbooks, reference books, review books, periodicals, electronic titles, and online
- ncbi_pubmed -ncbi pubmed
- cochranecollab -Cochrane Collab The Cochrane Collaboration: The reliable source of evidence in health care
- BMJ_latest -BMJ - British Medical Journal aims to lead the debate on health, and to engage doctors, researchers and health professionals to improve outcomes for patients.
- Scopus -Scopus (Fabian)Literature research database for everyone with a passion for Science
- BiolSciNews -Wiley-Blackwell Sci The latest updates & news from the books, journals & online resources available from the Wiley-Blackwell Biological Sciences subject.
- unboundmedicine / Unbound Medicine
- NatureMedicine - Nature Medicine Nature Medicine is a biomedical research journal devoted to publishing the latest & most exciting advances in biomedical research for scientists and physicians
- lippincott -Your medical, nursing and allied health resource.
Don't forget your fellow medical librarian Twitter accounts.
- medlibs - Medical Librarians Group Tweet for Medical Library folk
- mla2009 - Group Tweet for MLA2009 Annual Meeting
So what does all of this mean? First I want to say if you aren't in to Twittering, don't worry you don't have to be. It isn't for everyone, even I am not sure if I am quite in to it. Should medical libraries start a Twitter account? For most libraries, no. I know, shock and awe that I said no to something so techie and 2.0ish. Even though Twitter is experiencing some rather large growth with people and businesses jumping into the Twitter stream, it still may not be the most effective place for most libraries yet. That doesn't mean it should be ignored, on the contrary, keep your eyes open and watch for if and when the time is right for your library. If you have a personal Twitter account, it might behoove you to follow another medical or academic library to see how they are using Twitter and think strategically before you implement. It is ok to experiment and play with technology, but I don't believe in adopting technology just for technology sake.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.