The High Country Library Corporation (HCLC) has several branches in Northeast Victoria, Australia (not Canada as it says on the International Twittering Libraries list I’m drawing my sources from). It also uses Twitter. Let’s see how.
Landing on the HCLC homepage we’ve got a cleanish three column design. You can search the catalogue directly from this page, but where is the Twittering? I checked the Contact Us link, which opened up my mail client instead, before realizing the Twitter feed is directly on that front page in the lower right hand column. It displays three recent tweets in a deceptively well integrated red box that matches up with the rest of the page very well. Almost too well. In fact, it might be hard to recognize it as a twitter feed at all, since there’s no Twitter branding (apart from a white on white logo below the box). It is below the prominent blue “Find Us On Facebook button though, so maybe that’s indication enough. I somehow doubt it.
On the main page of the library it seems easy enough to use the Twitter feed. There are the three tweets with links to other material on the web. The “Join the Conversation text” is clearly visible. Once you click on that text, you’re taken to the Twitter account page where you can do the standard Twitter things. As I’ve said before any usability problems here are more Twitter’s fault than the library’s. The library doesn’t provide any sort of instruction though. I guess if you care about following it on Twitter the assumption is that you don’t need instructions on how to do it. The Twitter page is clean and light but doesn’t scream library to me. They use their logo as their Twitter icon, which is better than using a building.
The HCLC does an excellent job of integrating Twitter with their tools and services. It’s an almost seamless part of their main page, and the feed tells people what is happening at the different branches of the library system. They don’t seem to use hashtags in referring to their branches which might make it a bit more difficult to collocate all the tweets about a certain one. Using Twitter to indicate the catalogue is offline and they’re working on it is very good stuff.
The material the HCLC posts on the feed appears to be very useful, from scheduling information about programs to links to interesting bits found on Digg. One thing that was especially good at trying to encourage communication was retweeting a link to Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books list including the question, “which were your favourites?” That’s engaging in the social aspect of social media along with bringing interesting bits of information to light. There’s also a lot of posting, which is good. It’s evident that someone in the HCLC “gets” Twitter and how it can be used.
My only suggestion would be to use a Twitter icon on the main page so that users coming from that direction are made more aware that there is a Twitter feed, especially since they’re putting up good content with it. Well done, Australians!