Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Introducing #LibChatNZ!

I have blogged about my love of Twitter before but now I find myself the founder of a NZ Twitter chat for librarians.  That's what happens when you ponder aloud on Twitter about whether there is such a thing!

I'd already decided to hold the chat monthly and, based on the results from a survey of interested librarians, it is going to be on the first Monday of the month at 8pm (except January, let's enjoy our holidays then!).  

For the first chat, on Monday 3 August, we are going to talk about Makerspaces.  These are the hot topic in American libraries right now.  The NMC Horizon Report for 2015 talks about important developments in educational technology.  In their "one year or less" timeframe it lists two developments - BYOD and Makerspaces.  So let's see whose interested in these, if anyone already has a Makerspace and how we can get started if we want one.

Back to the topic of Twitter, I got to thinking about one of the comments on the survey, which was that "perhaps some guidelines would be a good idea".  I searched for some basic information I could share about Twitter but couldn't find anything that said exactly what I wanted it to.  So I am now thinking that I should make a little guide for newbies to Twitter...

Newbies' Guide to Twitter

First off, if you have some reservations about Twitter Ned Potter will answer all your concerns.  But here's my two cents worth - I know we have the listserv and Google+ and Facebook but Twitter has some unique benefits.  It can connect you to a broad range of people who have interesting ideas and experiences, and by getting involved with a Twitter chat you can have a real time conversation about a particular topic.  

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Obviously the first step is to sign up with Twitter.  If you don't want Twitter texting you with notifications (I prefer to check my app), I'd recommend you sign up with your email address and not your phone number, although you can change that later anyway.
  • You will need to choose a username that hasn't already been taken.  A lot of NZ tweeters, myself included, put NZ at the end of their Twitter handle (username) and that usually does the trick. 
  • You also need to upload a photo or cartoon or else Twitter will give you an egg as a default.  Speaking from experience the downside of having a cartoon picture is that if you do meet fellow tweeters they don't know who you are!
  • Make sure you put something in your profile too.  People will use that to  learn what your interests are and to decide whether to follow you back.
  • **Update - I just had to add this in, an excellent resource from Kay Oddone that helps you get to know the Twitter interface.
  • Send out your first tweet by typing in the "What's happening?" box on your computer or tapping the box with the quill in it in the top right-hand corner of the Twitter app.  It doesn't have to be amazing, if you get stuck you could just say "Hi @MSimmsNZ, I am sending my first tweet!".  By including @MSimmsNZ I'll be notified about your tweet and I'll reply to you.
  • Then try searching Twitter for @LibChatNZ by using the magnifying glass at the top. Scroll to the bottom of the results page and you should see the account for @LibChatNZ.  If you click/tap on that then you can follow @LibChatNZ and then click/tap on the followers button to see all of the followers of @LibChatNZ..  These are your fellow NZ librarians so you might like to follow them too.  
  • Once you follow people you will get their tweets in your Twitter feed.  They may also follow you back.  I panicked a bit when that happened as I felt people might be expecting me to be tweeting a lot - don't worry, they don't!  You can watch what other people are tweeting without having to join in.
  • If you do see something of interest in your timeline then you can retweet it, or reply to it and start a conversation.
  • If you have followed quite a few people your Twitter feed will fill up quickly.  I have been on Twitter for four years and after a while I found I couldn't read all of the individual tweets that were coming through.  And then I realised that I didn't have to!  It was very liberating.  Now I just swish through the timeline a bit and stop at random to read interesting tweets.  If people really want me to see their tweet then they will include my Twitter handle in the tweet and I will be notified about it.
  • If you're feeling confident try searching for #tlchat or #edchatnz to see what U.S. librarians or NZ teachers are sharing on Twitter.  And of course our new hashtag for NZ librarians - #libchatnz.
  • Once you're ready to join in the #libchatnz chat, you need to be on Twitter at 8pm on the first Monday of the month, and you need to have searched for #libchatnz. #edchatNZ has some great advice about how to participate in a chat.
  • For the more confident user, @mrkempnz has some good tips for following a fast Twitter chat.

I hope this all makes sense.  I've been trying to see it from a beginner's perspective and be as clear as possible but I didn't want to make it too long either.  Hopefully you'll manage to get set up and then if you need anything else clarified just tweet me (unless you can't work out how to tweet, then we have a problem!).

Thanks to @ariaporo22 and @ReidTeachNZ for their help and advice about this (and where else but Twitter would a librarian in Hamilton have found help from teachers in Rotorua and Auckland?!).

Update 5 August 2015

I connected with @MissDtheTeacher who was very generous with her time and sharing her experience as moderator of the very busy and successful #edchatnz.

Then I survived moderating my first chat!  And what a great chat it was too.  There were so many interesting people posting their thoughts.  We had primary and secondary librarians and teachers and public librarians too.  That meant a good range of views and experiences to draw from.

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