Twitter icon

What is Twitter?

Congratulations, you are half way through Opening Doors to the Future!  This week we will be learning about Twitter, a Web 2.0 micro-blogging tool.  Micro-blogging is a simplified, shorter version of blogging tools such as WordPress.  The emphasis is placed on quickly and easily sharing small chunks of information. Twitter does this in 140 characters or less allowing for collaboration and quick information sharing without email or IM.  An update can be sent and within seconds of something happening be seen by millions of other micro-bloggers.  Users can view “Tweets” via the Web, via an RSS feed, and via text on a mobile phone, or any number of third party apps. (An app is a software application, which allows you to do an activity of some kind. These days, it’s particularly associated with mobile phones.)  Twitter started out as a way for people to post “what you’re doing”, but it has evolved into a real-time communication tool.  People are sharing resources, videos, images, and connecting with friends and organizations.

Many people worldwide became aware of Twitter earlier in 2011 during the political crisis in Egypt, the Internet became one of the only way for news to reach the world and Twitter was a communication tool used to get news in and out.   On July 6, 2011 President Obama had the first ever Twitter Town Hall meeting at the White House.  He answered questions on the economy, jobs, the deficit, and space exploration.  Interested in following the White House?  Join over 2 million others and follow @whitehouse. Of special note, the White House Twitter messages are archived as Presidential Materials under the Presidential Records Act of 1978 (PRA).  The PRA guarantees the citizens of the United States ownership of presidential records relating to official duties of the office and executive branch.  Another factoid: Twitter is donating every tweet since its inception in 2006 for preservation at the Library of Congress.  Check it out:
Why Twitter?

click on the link to see video:
What Can Twitter Do for Libraries?

Libraries can use Twitter to post updates on newly available materials, answer reference questions, and tell people about events such as book sales or readings.  The Danbury Public Library!/danburylibrary uses Twitter to update patrons on library hours of operation, classes, and upcoming programs.  The Orange County Library!/OCLSteen tweets specifically to a teen audience highlighting Young Adult programs, volunteers and job opportunities, book clubs, and homework help with links back to the Young Adult and main library sites. The New York Public Library librarians and staff all tweet daily about what is happening at the library and in the city, answer questions, and even tweet in Spanish.

A message a week (or day) could be devoted to sharing a tip on how to find or access information online or in a database.  Posts can be linked back to the library’s website for more in depth information if necessary.  The essence of Twitter is a conversation, however it can and is used by many as a means of broadcasting information.  140 characters do not require a large time commitment from staff, but can make a huge impact in reaching a wider audience outside the doors of the library.  Twitter and other micro-blogging tools are the ultimate sharing tools. Share your information about your day, notes from a conference or meeting you’re at, links to articles you’ve read, news events, and other information.

As you follow people, you’ll get information shared with you. This increase of information sharing leads to increased productivity.  Ask questions on Twitter and get helpful responses from colleagues.  Twitter is a network of people, a community, giving us the opportunity to connect with people we may never have the chance to meet in real life.  Sharing interests and professions allows for connections, shared experiences, and most importantly the ability to learn from one another.  Many people call this community of Twitter followers a professional learning community (PLC) or professional learning network (PLN). See this handout (PDF) from 23Things Kansas for a deeper look into PLNs.

For ideas on how libraries are using Twitter check out:


Twitter Directories: You can find people and organizations to follow, and hopefully they will follow you back!


Twitter Explained for Librarians, or 10 ways to use Twitter:

Twitter for Librarians: The Ultimate Guide:

The Twitter Guidebook:

100 Ways to Use Twitter in Your Library

Twitter for Beginners (PDF)
Twitter Navigation Pane

(click image to make it appear larger)

Tweet Anatomy

When you log into Twitter you will land on your home timeline, which shows all Tweets from those you have chosen to follow.  The newest updates are located at the top.  Clicking on a Tweet in the timeline will expand it so you can see photos, videos, and profile information.  You can Reply, Retweet or Favorite a Tweet from this location. (Click image to make it appear larger)

Types of Tweets

  • Normal tweets: A public tweet sent to everyone who follows you.  Message contains 140 characters or less.  It will appear in the timeline of anyone following the sender.  Appears on senders profile page and Tweets timeline.
  • Mentions: A Tweet containing another user’s Twitter username, preceded by the “@” symbol. Ex: Hello @Diane_Grevalsky!  What are you doing today?  These Tweets will appear on the senders profile page of public Tweets and in the recipients Mentions and Interactions tabs (under Connect in the navigation pane).  They will also appear in the recipients timeline if they are following the sender.  Anyone on Twitter following the sender will see the Tweet in their home timeline.
  • @Replies: A public tweet sent to a specific person on Twitter. You may send an @reply (at reply) in response to a tweet sent out by a person. Or you can use the @reply to send a message to anyone on Twitter.  These tweets will appear on the sender’s profile, in the recipients Mentions and Interactions tabs, and in the recipients Tweets timeline if they are following the sender.  Anyone following both the sender and recipient will see the Tweet in their timelines.
  • Direct message: A private Tweet sent to a person who follows you. You cannot send a direct message to someone who does not follow you.  Appears in the sender’s and recipient’s Direct Messages.  They do not appear in public timelines or searches.

Let’s Give It a Try!

Discovery Exercise 1:

1. Join Twitter –

For support materials see:

  • Go to, enter your full name, email address, create a password and click the yellow “Sign up for Twitter” button or simply go to
  • Select a username from one suggested or create your own.  Most people use their first initials with their last name: “DGrevalsky”.  If you plan on connecting with friends via Twitter this will enable them to find you more easily.  You can choose one of the suggested names or create your own.

  • Fill in the “Captcha” to prove you are a real person.
  • Follow the directions given to you by “The Twitter Teacher” to follow accounts that interest you and find people you know.

2. Find a network of people with a common interest – it can be coworkers or people outside of work – and sign up to be friends with them. Look at organizations or institutions that interest you.


3. Here are some people to follow to get you started from our program:


4. Visit Just Tweet It and find other librarians who are using Twitter (you can also explore other directories on the site):

Let’s Give It a Try!

Discovery Exercise 2:

1. Learn how Twitter users employ Hashtags to track topics and events.

Hashtag readings:

Twitter Support-What are Hashtags (“#” Symbols)?

Hash by Susan Orlean


2. Use the hashtag #BPLThings on some of your tweets this week.


3. Blog about your experience.  Include a link to your Twitter homepage in your blog entry.

Answer these questions in your blog post this week:

  • What types of uses do you see for Twitter in your organization?
  • Will you use Twitter personally, professionally or both?
  • Who are three people or organizations you started following this week and why did you follow them?  Have you found their posts helpful?
  • Include a link to your Twitter homepage in your blog entry.

Let’s Give It a Try!

Discovery Exercise 3:

Twitterfeed allows you to feed your blog posts to your Twitter account. You can also use this application to post content to Facebook or LinkedIn. Twitterfeed allows you to do keyword filtering so only posts containing certain keywords are sent to your social software platforms. Keyword filtering searches the posts title and description for the “keywords” you specify. Advanced setting permits users to choose update options, post content, the addition of a prefix or suffix to a post.



1. Sign up for a Twitterfeed account and connect your WordPress blog to it, allowing for your posts to be fed directly to your Twitter account. You can choose which ones, using keyword filtering if you prefer to limit your content. Add the class Hashtag, #BPLThings, to your posts as a suffix in the advance settings.


2. Answer these questions in your blog post this week:

  • What was your experience using Twitterfeed?
  • Do you see this application being functional in your library setting?
  • Would this application make posting content easier for your library?
  • Have you discovered any other applications for feeding your content to social platforms, if so please share your experiences and preferences.

Let’s Give It a Try!

Discovery Exercise 4:

Adding an image to a Tweet

1. To upload an image to a Tweet click inside the Tweet box on your homepage or on the New Tweet button. (Click image to make it appear larger)



2. In the lower left hand corner two icons will be visible. One is a compass for adding your location and the other is a camera for uploading a image. Click on the camera icon and follow the prompts for uploading an image from your computer. You can upload .gif, .jpeg, and .png files.


3. The camera icon will turn blue after the image has been successfully uploaded. If you do not want to add the image simply click on the x in the upper right hand corner of the image.



4. Next, click on the Tweet button. Your image will be available by clicking on the Tweet. (Click image to make it appear larger)



5. Share an image (or more) in your Tweets. Remember to add on the class Hashtag #BPLThings.
Further Exploration (Optional):

Free Twitter buttons from
twitter buttons

Guide to Twitter in Libraries from iLibrarian

Ten Twitter Apps from ReadWriteWeb

Bradley’s Twitter for Librarians

Tweetiquette by Neal Chambers

Twitter Backgrounds

Buttons for Incorporating Twitter on your Website or Blog

Tweet Cloud

You Are What You Tweet from

Questions? Please post them on the homepage to Opening Doors to the Future. If you need an immediate response E-mail Diane.

This Learning 2.0 module was originally designed and implemented by students in Dr. Michael Stephens‘ Transformative Literacies class in the Spring of 2012 (LIBR 281-12). This class is part of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science curriculum. It was authored by Diane Grevalsky for the Bethlehem Public Library. It is available for use for other libraries or institutions. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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