The Orkney Library service, which serves a population of 20,000, spread across several islands, has passed the 10,000 Twitter followers benchmark during Scottish Book Week.
The library services is made up of two static libraries and two mobile units.
Stuart Bain, senior library assistant at Orkney Library, who runs the library's Twitter feed @OrkneyLibrary, told The Bookseller that social media was now an essential way for rural libraries to communicate with people.
"We benefit in so many ways from using it," Bain said. "It's the best way to reach younger users, who might not traditionally turn to the library as somewhere they can go. We can also use it to advertise all the events and different activities we have going on – on World Book Night, we had people turning in their pyjamas at the last minute when they'd seen on Twitter what was happening at the library. It's also a way of keeping people informed – if the weather is bad and the mobile libraries will be delayed or changing routes, we can let people know straight away."
It has also allowed information to flow the other way, Bain said. "I said something about how a user had liked a book, and within a day the publisher was in touch offering a proof of the author's next novel, and offering to organise a visit. It's great that authors and publishers can be in touch directly. We also have followers around the world. When tourists visit in the summer, people drop in and say hello because they follow us and feel like they know us."
Bain added: "I think it's essential now for libraries, particularly in rural areas, where people can be isolated and perhaps find it difficult to visit a main library as often as they'd like."
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