May 13, 2009

Using Twitter Search as a Library Reference Tool

I have just answered my first reference question using Twitter Search here at the Library. And it is a perfect example of the real-time nature of of the microblog site, and its advantage over even search-powerhouse Google.

I was working at the Technology desk and a patron using one of our public computers asked me if we are now blocking Craigslist. I didn't think we were, but when I tested it, it was not connecting. I could have contacted our IT department to see if they did something that might restrict sites, or I could have tried to Google search the Internet for some notice of Craigslist going down, but both of those options seemed too slow to me.

Instead, I Twitter searched "craigslist down." In a moment, the results verified that it was down everywhere:

I informed our computer user that it was a site issue. I continued to monitor Twitter Search and Craigslist, and was able to tell him when it was back up.

Our patron needed an immediate answer. Twitter Search game me a way to give him one.