I volunteer for the library at the Canadian Music Centre of Vancouver. I was excited to see that the national Centre is merrily tweeting away — this made me feel, I don’t know, a sense of familiarity, or something along those lines. It makes me wonder how people end up on Twitter normally; I always sort of assumed that there are people who join Twitter because they like Twitter, and then there are people like me, who don’t. But that doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? Most people probably arrive there by following somebody they know. And some, perhaps, get there through an organization that they like. Maybe this isn’t terribly significant, but for me it’s something to consider… your library might be leading innocent patrons into Twitter. Are there any implications to that?
Enough rambling! For now. Let’s begin by taking a look at the website of the Canadian Music Centre. I’m not in love with it, to be honest. It seems very cluttered* and a little sad, hunching over there at the left side of the screen. Now that I am an expert web designer (thanks Susie!) I would want to streamline the bejeesus out of this. I mean, navigation isn’t terribly difficult, but it would be smoother, I think, to nest “Find a Composer” under “Find Music”, and I’m struggling to figure out why there needs to be a CMC Boutique and a big block for Centrestreams… again, why not have a simple “Listen to Music” menu, with options for streaming online and buying? Basically, I think there’s a lot to be done. And I think the website is designed for people who already know a lot about the organization, who have a near-intuitive sense of the difference between Centrestreams and Centrediscs, who know what an associate is.
The website, and the Twitter feeds, sort of make me feel like I’m spying on a club that I don’t belong to. This may sound whiny, but I really do mean it more as a statement than a criticism. If you’re a music library, do you want to tailor your online presence to musicians? Or do you want to try to invite neophytes in? I have to think there’s a middle ground, a strategy that’s just a bit more neutral and welcoming to whoever might wander in off the Internet.
It’s harder to make these value judgments about Twitter. There is a sense of both Musicians’ Club and Twitter Club and even a hint of Canada Club, best expressed by the rampant acronyms: FF, LRT, SNBTo, MT, TO.
I mean, it’s the Twitter feed of the Canadian Music Centre. Using the lingo of music and Canada and Twitter certainly makes sense. But I do wonder if, as an organization, it’s better to put some of your 140 characters to the service of utter clarity. Not to pander to newbies while annoying those who know what’s up, but just to hedge your bets. I love the Canadian Music Centre, but it hasn’t given me that elusive reason to stick around Twitter post-assignment. There is just too much that I don’t understand and too much that doesn’t seem relevant to me, as a USAmerican living in Vancouver who likes music a lot but has no expertise. Some of the Twitter guides I’ve read recently suggest setting up a few feeds for your organization to deal with different areas, and some of the places I follow seem to be doing that. But it strikes me as messy and not terribly user-friendly. So I can’t say that I have a solution to the overall clubbiness of the Centre’s web presence, beyond just not getting carried away in the excitement of rapid-fire messages about something you love. Consider your lurkers!
*The social media links are displayed fairly prominently, about 1/4 of the way down the page. But I missed them when I was exploring the last couple of days; I was, in fact, all set to grouse about how the website didn’t link to the Twitter feed at all. Again, just too much stuff, too many horizontal blocks of different messages, too easy to pass over.