Most of us are used to seeing Twitter hashtags for particular events, such as conferences, but what other hashtags should library/information professionals be following?
1. Association hashtags. As well as tags from events, there's often discussion and conversation around professional organisations on Twitter. Try #cilip, #sla, #ala, #ifla, #biall etc - but remember that these may often be used by other organisations/campaigns (at time of writing, '#biall' is also the hashtag for something to do with [boy band] One Direction fans in Canada...)
2. Campaign hashtags. The UK is currently gearing up for National Libraries Day on the 4th February, and conversation on Twitter is going on under the #NLD12 tag. Non-seasonal campaigning hashtags include #savelibraries and #lovelibraries. The campaign about the value of school libraries is under #SHOUTABOUT, and cataloguers are talking about their value on #hvcats (high visibility cataloguers).
3. Professional development. At library school, and looking for someone to share the pain? Try reaching out on the #libraryschool tag. It's also worth seeing if your school has a specific hashtag for students, such as the #aberils tag for students on Aberystwyth's distance learning courses. There is also support for people doing other professional qualifications, such as #chartership.
4. Want to know what librarians do all day? We're currently in round 8 of the 'library day in the life' project, tagged #libday8. This produces not only tweets, but blogs, podcasts, vodcasts, and photo diaries, as librarians and information professionals from around the world write about their days. Try searching blog sites and flickr for examples of #libday8 - and previous rounds, tagged #libday7, #libday6 etc.
5. Unsociable hours. Many librarians find themselves working evenings and weekends, regularly or on a shift basis. How does this differ from 9-5 working? Is the library busy? What do they use this time to do? Check out #latenightlibrarian and #saturdaylibrarian for the answers.
6. Sector specific. It's shocking, I know, but there are more people than just librarians on Twitter! It can be useful to look for tweets from your wider sector, such as #loveHE and #highered, #uked, #localgov, #nhs.
7. What we do. Librarians and information professionals are involved in all sorts of activities. If you're feeling techy, meet up with others who are learning to code on #codeyear and, more specifically, #libcodeyear and #catcode (for cataloguers). Also on a techy note, many librarians are interested in #opendata, #opengov, and the #semanticweb powered by #linkeddata. There are tags for more traditional library activities such as #infolit and #cataloguing.
8. Structured conversations. Most of the time Twitter is a free and easy information flow, and people might respond to your tweet within five seconds, five hours - or never! But it can also be used for more structured conversations, as for #libchat and #uklibchat. Each has a set agenda (announced in advance), and happens at a set time. Summaries or blog posts about past chats may be available.
9. And... relax! It can't always be all about work - there are hashtags for many of those favourite librarian pastimes, too. #fridayreads is where you tell people about what you're reading (on a Friday), while #amwriting is for the other end of the process. You'll find many information professionals #knitting, #crafting, #running - and, of course, eating #cake and drinking #gin!
Bethan Ruddock is Content Development Officer, Library and Archival Services for Mimas, at the University of Manchester. She is a member of the SLA Europe Board and the LIS New Professionals Network. Her book, The New Professional's Toolkit will be published by Facet Publishing in 2012.