Levels of Engagement: Rethinking How Social Media Connects Communities & Libraries

The Twitter feed from this daylong series of workshops that began with a highly interactive onsite-online keynote presentation was designed to help library staff members attending a Multidistrict Staff Development program near Philadelphia more effectively use social media tools in their work.


  1. Gathering in King of Prussia, PA for a daylong interactive set of explorations in an LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act)-funded program, approximately 100 staff members and administrators from libraries in a five-county area collaborated as "co-conspirators" to learn by doing. Using social media tools, we examined our perceptions and misperceptions about social media, looked at a variety of examples of what we are doing to foster onsite-online collaborative communities though the use of social media tools, and ended the day with a session designed to create action plans that each participant could begin implementing upon returning to work.
  2. The 90-minute keynote address included, within the first 10 minutes, a discussion about what comes to mind when we hear the words "social media," what negative images those words evoke, and what positive images they bring to mind. Participants, using the predetermined hashtag we created to provide an online learning space for the day, began capturing their thoughts and interacting online with each other via Twitter fairly early in the day...and never stopped.
  3. One astute learner, after hearing me express surprise at the relatively small number of Twitter followers President Trump had earlier this year in comparison to the huge reach and impact his tweets have thanks to retweeting and media coverage--the point being that levels of retweeting can have far more impact than our original tweets can ever provide--checked the account and found it had grown astronomically since I last looked at it.
  4. And making the point that our collaboration and working spaces can easily be blended onsite-online spaces thanks to the social media tools we have, I pointed that tweet out to everyone in the room as soon as I saw it come across the feed I was monitoring on my table via Hootsuite as I walked around the room and continued the session.
  5. Calling attention to a highly respected colleague (Buffy Hamilton; @buffyjhamilton) whose work I very much admire, I was delighted to see one of our co-conspirators in the room mention her in the feed...and was even happier to see her respond when she realized we were talking about her in this wonderful onsite-online learning space. That particular interaction helped the learners viscerally understand the power and the reach of our collaborations when we realize our "room" is as large as our online presence is.