This month’s set of tools from the DLS Instruction Committee includes three popular sites for collaborating and networking online. In addition to Twitter, a commonly used social media tool, we also provide reviews of Tumblr and Reddit. These are just a few of the many great, freely available social collaboration tools available online. We invite you to share your own favorites in the comments below. Have you used any of these sites in your work with students? Let us know!
Social Networking & Collaboration Tools
Learning Curve: Easy
Evaluation: This is a social media site and microblogging tools. Users post blogs, pictures, and share with friends. A library could post whatever they might post on Facebook and Twitter. Tumblr is very accessible, open, and very informal. See the tag for Academic Libraries on Tumblr. Here is a review from Library Journal on Tumblr.
Reviewed by: Heather Dalal
Learning Curve: Medium
Evaluation: Reddit is a website full of forums (called subreddits) with user submitted links or text posts. Users can upvote or downvote posts and comments. The learning curve is “medium” because Reddit can get a bad reputation. Users should create their own accounts, choose subreddits that interest them. Of note: reddit.com/r/scholar – this is really an underground interlibrary loan. (Maybe we should not advertise that but it’s a good trick to have when you are stuck). Visit the Ask Academic subreddit for academic advice. Find a subreddit related to your professional tasks or goals. For example, reddit.com/r/usability is full of tips from professionals in that area and it helps me to apply usability testing in the library. Some colleges have their own subreddits, which is fun to lurk. Reddit does have a very male userbase, with mostly a younger audience 18-24.
Reviewed by: Heather Dalal
Learning Curve: Easy to Medium
Evaluation: Twitter is a type of social networking site called a microblog, which allows users to share small amounts of content at a time. A Twitter user is limited to 140-character tweets, which can be comprised of text, images, or web links. Twitter also makes use of hashtags, which are easily searchable words or phrases preceded by a # sign, designed to group similar tweets together. Twitter can be used by individual librarians for networking, sharing their research, or following conference tweets via hashtags. Libraries and institutions also Twitter as a way for connecting with their patrons, providing updated information on services and resources, and/or advertising promotions or sharing news. The Library Success Wiki has a long list of libraries and librarians on Twitter, which may be useful to consult for sample content or best practices.
Reviewed by: Melissa Mallon