You’ve Been Followed: How Public Libraries Use Twitter To Engage Their Patrons

Stanislav Orlov 1 *, Alla Kushniryk 1
More Detail
1 Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Canada
* Corresponding Author
Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 6, Issue December 2016 - Special Issue, pp. 229-241.
OPEN ACCESS   1352 Views   714 Downloads   Published online: 01 Dec 2016
Download Full Text (PDF)


The purpose of this study is to examine how public libraries in Canada and the USA use social media to communicate with their patrons. The authors identified Twitter as one of the most popular communication tools, which, however, is often not used efficiently. The researchers collected 38,000 Twitter messages from thirteen public libraries. The data was examined using network analysis based on four proposed dimensions: velocity, reciprocity, centrality and message control. The dimensions of velocity and reciprocity are two major factors in understanding the nature of Twitter messages, while the centrality and message control dimensions are very important in evaluating the impact on the flow of communication and the strength of connections between a library and its patrons. The authors devised a set of recommendations for public libraries to improve their communication strategies in order to increase the number of followers and more actively engage patrons on Twitter.


Orlov, S., & Kushniryk, A. (2016). You’ve Been Followed: How Public Libraries Use Twitter To Engage Their Patrons. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 6(December 2016 - Special Issue), 229-241.


  • TLC to offer SocialFlow to libraries. (2015). Advanced Technology/Libraries, 44(2), 9. Retrieved from
  • Appleton, L., & Tattersall, A. (2015). How librarians can harness the power of social media for the benefit of their users. Multimedia Information & Technology, 41(4), 23-26.
  • Brookes, A.J. (2011, February 8). New social media case study ~ New York Public Library success with HootSuite [Web log post]. Retrieved from
  • Burgert, L., Nann, A., & Sterling, L. (2014). Ventures in Social Media. Codex, 3(1), 21-44.
  • Carscaddon, L., & Chapman, K. (2013). Twitter as a marketing tool for libraries. In Thomsett-Scott, B.C. (Ed.), Marketing with social media: A LITA guide (pp. 147-163). Chicago: American Library Association.
  • Crawford, W. (2014). Successful social networking in public libraries. Chicago: American Library Association.
  • Duggan, M. (2015). Mobile messaging and social media 2015. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from
  • Gaha, U., & Hall, S. (2015). Sustainable use of social media in libraries. Codex, 3(2), 47-67.
  • Mon, L., & Lee, J. (2015). Influence, reciprocity, participation, and visibility: Assessing the social library on Twitter. Canadian Journal of Information & Library Sciences, 39(3), 279-294.
  • Starr, J. (2010). California Digital Library in Twitter-Land. Computers in Libraries, 30(7), 23-27.
  • Taylor and Francis. (2014). Use of social media by the library: Current practices and future opportunities. A white paper from Taylor & Francis. London: Taylor and Francis. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.1221673
  • Tinklepaugh, M. (2010, November 3). Winner: The New York Public Library - Twitter success through a coordinated staffing model. PR News. Retrieved from
  • Twitter. (2016). About. Retrieved from
  • Wanucha, M., & Hofschire, L. (2013). US public libraries and the use of web technologies, 2012 (Closer Look Report). Denver, CO: Colorado State Library, Library Research Service. Retrieved from WebTech2012_CloserLook.pdf