Cumberland Times-News

November 27, 2009

Twitter new, helpful tool for county libraries

Kevin Spradlin

CUMBERLAND — Interested in meeting the Allegany County Bookmobile at Hannah Plaza in Cresaptown but running late?

Now you can simply log on to Twitter and see if the Bookmobile is on schedule.

The Allegany County Library System is using Twitter and other social networking sites as yet another way to bring the library experience closer to patrons — wherever they may be.

“I was familiar with Twitter but didn’t see the applications for it for us until reading some articles about how other libraries are using Twitter,” said Lisa McKenney, public services coordinator for the Allegany County Library System. “With these ideas, I started an account” using her e-mail “handle,” aclslisam.

McKenney “began posting messages about library events, new features on our Web site and catalog, new materials just received at the library ... and announcements. I include some personal reviews of books I’ve personally enjoyed reading or music that I would recommend to others to try.”

From that single account, two more have been established to help further the library system’s goal of serving as many patrons as possible in any way imaginable. John Taube, system director, created alleganylibrary, and Regina Spiker, who teaches the library system’s public computer classes, created one for teens with the handle spibrarian. The Bookmobile can be reached on Twitter by searching for the handle alleganybkm.

The Bookmobile’s account is the newest and has just four followers. Alleganylibrary has eight followers, while spibrarian has 30 followers. McKenney’s aclslisam has 50 followers and has posted more than 200 “tweets,” or comments, online.

“I’m a small librarian in a small library in a small town,” Spiker announced on a Web page devoted to industry news.

But that doesn’t mean small towns can’t go high-tech in a big way.

“Twitter provides a quick, current and immediate way to get the word out to everyone about what’s new at the library,” McKenney said. “So far, our followers continue to grow and we welcome the community to set up Twitter accounts and follow our postings. We continually explore new technologies that can help us bring the library programs, materials and services to our patrons and community.”

The potential is apparent. The Enoch Pratt Free Library System in Baltimore has more than 1,100 followers and has posted 3,341 tweets — from holiday greetings and schedules to announcing award-winning staff members’ accomplishments.

It’s a relatively simple process. With an e-mail account and Internet access — both of which can be created and found, respectively, at your local library — a computer user executes an easy search by the name of a person or business or by using an e-mail address.

With a single click of the mouse, the user can follow another Twitter user and be kept up to date on the goings-on of the library.

Contact Kevin Spradlin at