I have been watching the Peace Palace Library using twitter for quite some time already. They use as one of the various means to inform their users. Apart from Twitter the use mail, chat and RSS to broadcast messages. Their use of twitter is mainly for informing users on updates, systems changes and all those kind of things. Short messages, of course.
I was therefore interested by the application of the Library of the Technical University of Hamburg Harburg where they have implemented Twitter as a document stream on their electronic repository -which they prefer to call a document server. To me this makes a lot of sense. Too many libraries treat their repository as just one of their ordinary databases. It sits there and that’s about it. Okay they use OAI-PMH to make it possible to exchange information. That is important indeed.
But it shouldn’t stop there. Libraries should try their utter best to broadcast or syndicate the content of their repositories as widely as possible. They have the task trusted upon them to make the rest of the world aware of the valuable publications the researchers of their Alma Mater have produced. Relying on OAI-PMH only is not sufficient to reach that goal.
RSS is absolutely a necessity. If it was only to trickle feed the Google’s of this world with fresh information. But RSS is an excellent tool for getting your content to appear in other place on the Web as well. So RSS on your repository is a prerequisite. Let me be clear about that beforehand.
Today I was amused by the ingenious use of Twitter to syndicate updates of this repository. It is up to the user to subscribe to this feed if they wish too. On the other hand, I observe some conversion for my blogs from the twitter streams from these blogs. It is not much in comparison to RSS, but if you can please some of your clients by this form of syndication and the implementation costs are next to nothing. Then why not? Why not give it a try an see how it works out.
I love these small experiments.