Thing 4 (part 1): Using twitter and google reader for current awareness

This post was written for 23 Things for Professional Development, Thing 4: Current awareness – Twitter, RSS and Storify.

This week for cpd23 we’re looking at current awareness and how to keep up with what’s going on in the world of libraries.  I’ve been using twitter and google reader for this for a little while now and find them really useful.  In this post I’ll be sharing what I’ve learnt about using twitter and google reader effectively as current awareness tools.  I’ll be covering storify, scoop.it and paper.li, which are all new to me, in another post.

So, what this is really about is getting the information you want to come to you without being swamped by too much of it or lots of stuff your just not interested in.  The most important thing I’ve learnt is don’t try to read everything.  If something is really important it will be tweeted again, or someone else will link to the blog post and if your not finding something interesting, stop reading it!

Twitter

I signed up to twitter a few months ago so that I could join in UKLibChat and at the time wasn’t really sure what other use I could get out of it.  I then started following some of the people I met on UKLibChat and found that people were tweeting interesting information and links to interesting articles.  As I started following more people twitter soon joined google reader and CILIP newsletters as one of my key current awareness tools.  If you’re just starting and looking for who to follow @CILIPinfo, @liz_jolly and @girlinthe spring to mind a tweeters of interesting/useful links.

When I first joined twitter one of the problems I found was that some organisations were tweeting lots of interesting stuff, but  they were tweeting far to often and were drowning out everyone else.  The solution I found to this was to arrange these organisations into categories and put them into lists.  You don’t have to be following someone to put them in a list, so this way they don’t swamp my home page, but I can easily see what they have been saying.  I’ve recently found out about Listorious, a useful tool which lets you search for twitter lists created by other people, courtesy of a tweet by @meg_librarian.  List searching is something I don’t think  you can do from twitter itself.

Another use I’ve found for lists is my library jobs list.  I’m not actively job hunting at the moment, but I like to keep an eye on what’s out there so I’ve created a list of people/organisations who tweet UK library jobs.  This is one place where I do try to read everything.  So far I’ve got @UKLibraryJobs, @LISNPN, @LISJOBNET, @tfpl_Ltd, @jobsforinfopros and @sarahcchilds.  Anyone know of any good ones I’m missing?

So how can I make better use of twitter?  One of the things I’d like to work on with twitter is remembering to tweet and retweet links to articles and blog posts I find interesting/useful/entertaining.  If I’ve enjoyed it, chances are someone else will too and it really doens’t take much time to post something to twitter.  If something doesn’t have a ‘post this to twitter’  button I use HootSuite’s Hootlet, which sits in my bookmark toolbar and creates an editable tweet with a shortened URL with one click.

Google Reader

Almost as soon as I discovered the biblioblogosphere, when I started my graduate traineeship last autumn, I also discovered google reader. It really does make following blogs much easier.  I subscribe to over 100 blogs with google reader, most library-related but some by friends and about other interests too, which is something I could never keep up with without a feed reader, such as google reader.  So far I’ve only used it to follow blogs, but you can follow much more with it – anything with an RSS feed.

I organise the blogs I subscribe to into different folders which helps me decide whether I want to read a post and what it might be about if the title is a bit vague.  For example I’ve got a graduate trainees folder, as I like to know what other trainees are doing, and a must read folder, which is people who I find particularly interesting and want to make sure I don’t miss any of their posts.  Although even with posts in my must read folder if I get to the end of the second sentence and I’m not interested I’ll stop reading.

When I go to google reader the first thing I do is have a quick skim through the titles using list view (button in the top right) and start by reading anything that sounds particularly interesting.  If the title doesn’t catch my interest it probably won’t get read.  Whenever the number of unread items gets too high for my liking I mark everything older than a week as read.

If you’re looking for some blogs to follow, some of my favourites are the Undergraduate Science Librarian, Laura’s Dark Archive, Dymvue, Organising Chaos and Clare’s Aber Antics.