twitterbrary review: university of the west indies

Not all libraries who use Twitter are in rich countries. The University of West Indies Library (UWI) in Mona, Jamaica has an account ripe for examination.

The home page for the university’s library doesn’t have an immediately identifiable link to Twitter. They do have a number of Tutorials on using computers and searching their catalogue which feel the most obvious of any of the libraries I’ve been checking in the Twitterbrary project, but finding the Twitter from the main page is tough. There’s a News and Comments Blog, which I thought might have something to do with their Twitterfeed, but sadly, the thing hasn’t been updated in nearly a year and there wasn’t a blue bird of Tweetliness anywhere to be found. A little bit of poking around on Twitter (because yes, I knew they had a feed so I could spend the time finding it) found that the library Twitter account isn’t for the whole library but for the Medical branch, but as you’ll see at that link there’s no indication of a Twitter account there either. So. This is a big failure in terms of ease of finding from the library’s home page.

That said, there is a Medical Branch Library account, hidden though it may be to regular library users. The Twitter page uses a picture of a building as the badge for the library which I’m sighingly getting used to. If this was a user’s first experience with Twitter, well, as usual most of the usability issues would have to be laid at Twitter’s door here. But it is interesting that with the easy access to tutorials on the main library website, including links to external sites about How to Use a Computer, that a basic factsheet or something about the tools they’re using could show up somewhere.

Integrating the Twitter feed into the rest of the library’s services seems not to be a high priority (since you can’t find it from the main library site). However, the Twitter feed itself is actually pretty good. They do list new services offered by the library, but more predominantly are tweeting and retweeting links to health news stories. The focus appears to be on tropical health, so there aren’t too many funny cat videos, but the posts are frequent, to decent sources and interesting. If I was a medical student or practitioner in the Caribbean, I’d find this kind of stuff quite excellent. I like the idea of Twitter helping you trawl through the internet finding interestingness, and UWI medical library feed is definitely doing that.

My main suggestion for the library would be to actually incorporate the Twitter feed into the main page somewhere. There’s room for this kind of information on the page and having a link to the existing Twitter account is really the first step towards integrating it into the library experience as a whole. Maybe there are issues with the library’s IT department that are preventing further integration. Whatever the reason it’s a shame because there’s good stuff hidden in their tweeting churn.

(Sperm Whale image by Joseph Wu)

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