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All a-Twitter.

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Ning ... twitter ... blog and throw in an old-fashioned google--to some, these might sound like the faltering noises of a machine falling into disrepair. To others, they are the familiar sounds of modern communication.

A tweet is not someone you don't think highly of but is a message limited to 140 characters sent via 'Twitter', the free, micro-blogging Internet service. Twitter allows anyone who wants to pay attention a method of rapid and direct communication in real time. A blog is not a media release or a Web page but a communication method which is much more personal, open and timelier.

While once you went to a library hoping that the book you wanted was sitting on the shelf, now Internet connections mean that there are a variety of ways to access and contribute to the information deluge that is today's bank of knowledge.

Cultural institutions are adding to their repertoire of communication channels to include social-media tools, such as Facebook, YouTube, blogs and Twitter.

Most Web 2.0 technologies are what you make of them. While Twitter and blogs can be lightweight, they provide ways for libraries to engage their audiences, build relationships and impart information. Perhaps more importantly, the technologies allow users to be part of the conversation rather than just on the receiving end.

Earlier this year, the National Library held its annual Innovative Ideas Forum and explored the value and significance of social networking for cultural institutions. Delegates were encouraged to bring their laptops and to participate online--tweeting (or is it twittering?), blogging, Flickr-ing. Also highlighted at the forum was the National Library's Newspaper Digitisation Beta Service http://ndpbeta.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/home--a good example of engaging users and creating relationships. The service not only allows users to search historic Australian newspapers but also enables collaborative text correction: users can add and correct text and make comments, either privately or publically. The service even maintains a 'Hall of Fame' http://ndpbeta.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/hallOfFame of its top text correctors.

The Library recently established its own Facebook http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2376402331 page and also has an events blog http://blogs.nla.gov.au/events/ that posts information about the Library's activities. The blog encourages user feedback, which is invaluable for both the event goer and the Library.

As libraries find themselves in an environment with increasing demands to reach a broader range of audiences, new forms of communication provide ways to engage in new conversations.

Judith Dahl Taylor, Communications and Marketing Manager

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Author:Taylor, Judith Dahl
Publication:National Library of Australia Gateways
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Aug 1, 2009
Words:425
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