twitterbrary review: whitby public library

I don’t know where Whitby is exactly (hey, Ontario’s a big province), but the town’s public library is on Twitter, and that’s good enough for me to take a look.

So Whitby Public Library’s homepage is a blog, which is kind of awesome. They’re doing the three column thing with content in the centre. I thought for a moment that the calendar of “Latest Programs and Events” was being sucked in from their Twitter feed, but no, they’re using eventkeeper for that. The link to their Twitter account is actually only accessible from a small icon in the “Bookmark and Share” section in the right-side column. The title of the section threw me off a bit, as I wasn’t sure if clicking the icon meant I was bookmarking/sharing a link on Twitter, but no it brought me to the library’s Twitter profile. It’s a little confusing and easy to miss, but because there is so much information on the main page, I can understand trying to keep the external page links nice and compact.

The problem with having that small icon be the sole link to the Twitter page is that it provides absolutely no context for the novice user. This library website is clearly made by and for people who are fluent in the modern internet. Once you click through to the Twitter page, the usability or lack thereof falls onto Twitter’s shoulders rather than the library’s. They use a stock Twitter background and their icon is a stylized book logo kind of thing.

The Twitter feed feels well integrated into the rest of the services not because of anything they do with Twitter specifcally, but because it feels like an extension of the blog itself. They’re using the Twitter feed to do the standard things like let people know about the hours and events and the like, which is good. Since the main page is a blog it feels like you can always get more information back there. This is excellent use of the microblog format as pointers to more information.

The library is also tweeting a lot, plus retweeting and generally participating in the sharing culture of Twitter in good social kinds of ways. There are lots of links to external stories that aren’t about Whitby specifically so probably don’t merit full blog posts, but might be of interest to people who care about books. There are also tweets about other things going on in the community, which reinforces that the library is part of it, not just a broadcaster of press releases.

My main suggestion would be to rename the “Bookmark and Share” section of the main page to something more general like “Social Media,” as they aren’t actually links to Bookmark or share anything themselves (they do have those kinds of buttons on the individual blog posts on the main page, so renaming this area might save a bit of confusion). They also aren’t using hashtags very much, so that could be something to think about to help collocate information in the twitterverse. Otherwise, I’d have to say this seems like a model of how a public library can be using Twitter.

(Geai bleu / Blue Jay by Eric Bégin)

3 thoughts on “twitterbrary review: whitby public library

  1. Whitby is about 45 minutes east of Toronto…it is a beutiful town of about 110,000 people, but always growing. The Library is a beutiful place in the middle of Whitby, in it’s downtown. The website is wonderful, but the library it self is mavelous.

  2. I was kind of picturing it as a smaller community, but that doesn’t take away from their good social media presence. I’m glad to hear that their physical libraryishness lives up to its online version. Thanks for the input!

  3. Whaa!! I grew up in a part of Whitby called Brooklin! It used to be smaller. Whitby had 68, 000 residents when I lived there. Now there’s over 100, 000.
    they have a lot of new tax dollars (did I mention Jim Flaherty is their MP?), so they built a big fat new main branch.
    Toronto’s urban sprawl ate up our farm town. But I did grow up in the Brooklin Branch of that library. SO thrilled you covered Whitby.

    Also, google Camp X (an old secret military training camp that was in Whitby) or the old Whitby Psych hospital for more fun stuff.

    🙂 (this was Catie btw)

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