Library and Archives Canada (@LibraryArchives) uses its twitter feed primarily as a discovery tool, posting frequent “#collection fishing” tweets with links to images pulled from the archives. They are often thematically linked to timely events occuring, like this one from April 4, “Making #maple syrup at the #sugarshack, a traditional Canadian#spring activity!  goo.gl/uxprM goo.gl/VxHd6“, linking to the following image:


Making Maple Sugar, Lower Canada. ca. 1837 by Bainbrigge, Philip John, 1817-1881.

The twitter feed is also used to cross-post or promote new posts on the LAC blog and new episodes of the LAC podcast.

The search to find a link to the Twitter feed on the LAC site left me throroughly confused. I ended up at two distinct sites, the “Library and Archives Canada” site housed at http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca, and the “Library and Archives Canada” site housed at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/. They have fairly different looks but almost identical information architecture, and most of the links from the former lead you through to the collectionscanada site. Maybe they are in some kind of process of transition from one to the other. Anyway, I searched and searched and could not find a link to the twitter feed anywhere on the collectionscanada site or on the blog, both of which I had been led to by posts in the Twitter feed. The collectionscanada site had links to both the podcast and the blog. I was beginning to wonder whether the Twitter feed was even being produced officially, or whether there was some rogue Canadiana enthusiast combing the collections and posting highlights every couple of days. At last I realized that the link in the Twitter bio was the bac-lac.gc.ca site, which does indeed have a “Stay Connected” section of icon links to Flickr, Twitter, Podcasting and RSS. I think it is safe to believe that it is an official Twitter feed, but not one that is easy to find.

The Twitter feed links in nicely to both the collections themselves, and to the blog, which is only a brief pilot project. They cross-post with new blog posts in a concise, engaging way, such as this post from March 20: “Are you a Canadian #veteran and looking for your#militaryservicefile? Read today’s #blog to know how:http://goo.gl/kahVV“. They link to new episodes of the podcast in a similar way.

I like the collection discovery aspect of this feed, which is enjoyable in a way that has little connection to being a user of the physical space or even the digital collections themselves. I plan to continue following it for that reason, as a little dose of Canadian whimsy here and there. Who knows, maybe they will draw me into the podcast and blog as well!

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The Greater Victoria Public Library uses their Twitter account (@gvpl) to connect with users in a variety of ways. They use it to make reminders about upcoming events and annouce general library news. It has been used to promote April as poetry month, not only announcing events but recommending particular poems every couple of days. They also engage directly with users who ask them questions on Twitter. This has provoked a bit of a mixed reaction for me as I have been following them. On one hand, it does clutter up my feed a bit with things that are totally irrelevant; I have no need to be privy to these little personal conversations, and overall I find them a bit annoying.

But the advantages are twofold: some of the conversations I overhear contain relevant information (or what would be relevant if this was my library). For instance, one user complained about a technical issue, and the library repsonded that it was a widespread issue and they were working on resolving it. They later tweeted when the problem was fixed. This is the kind of up-to-the-minute information dissemination that Twitter is great for. The other, less tangible, benefit to overhearing these little interactions is that it if I ever wanted to ask the library a question, I would feel like the ice is broken. It puts me a bit at ease to have seen several questions and responses already go by, and makes me feel a bit more like I know the person behind the tweets than I would from just announcements.

Follow us on TwitterOn the library’s website, the link to the Twitter account is in the bottom left-hand corner of the main page. It is fairly big, and displays a “Follow us on Twitter” title, the bird icon, and the most recent tweet from the feed. However, there are a couple of obstacles to optimum usability. First of all, it’s at the very bottom. Secondly, the colouring is grey and white to match the rest of the site. I understand this choice from an aesthetic perspective, but when scanning the page for a Twitter link, it didn’t stand out. Another factor contributing to this same problem was that they chose to use the bird icon rather than the “t” that is commonly used elsewhere. Both are reasonably recognizable, and I suppose this is really Twitter’s problem for essentially having two logos, but it did trip me up momentarily. Lastly, the only part of the whole section that is actually linked to the Twitter feed is the bird icon itself, something else that tripped me up a bit. I did really like that it contained the last tweet, which would make it a little more accessible to people who are new to Twitter – giving them a taste of what’s inside.

The Twitter feed fits into the library’s services as both a newsletter/reminder service, much like the library’s home page, and also as a way of contacting the library. I found it a bit odd, since it seems to be used this way so much, that the Twitter feed was not mentioned on the “contact us” section of the library’s website. I think that I would stay subscribed to this feed if I lived in Victoria and was a frequent library visitor or knew that I was particularly interested in their programming.