Mean Tweets: Librarian Edition

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A little library humor can make the day of anyone who works in libraries. Maybe a zinger about a patron looking for that book with “the blue cover,” something from the folks at Fake Library Statistics, or perhaps the Unshelved library comic strip.

The team at the Invercargill City Libraries and Archives in New Zealand decided to create a little humor of their own in the spirit of late-night show host Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets series, where celebrities read some unpleasant tweets about them, posted by strangers on Twitter. In this library-themed spin, the staff at Invercargill read tweets about libraries and librarians in two videos (March 9, 2017 and April 7, 2017). Warning, there is a bit of crude language, you might want headphones on if you're going to turn up the audio!

Library staff members Bonnie Mager and Andrew Eng shared their experience with the Mean Tweets project, their approach to social media, and the impact they’ve seen.

How did the idea for the Mean Tweets: Librarian Edition come about?

The video is a take-off of Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrities Read Mean Tweets bit. Each week we hold social media brainstorming sessions. We talk about current trends, goals and ideas and make a plan for the upcoming week. This was one of the ideas that came up in the brainstorming sessions.

What did the staff think about participating and reading the mean tweets? Was it as fun as it looked?

We had a huge uptake from staff. We showed them a clip of Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets and then asked for volunteers. We were overwhelmed by the number of staff who wanted to participate.

What were you hoping to accomplish by creating and sharing this? And has it worked?

Our goals on social media are to break through library stereotypes and provide a connection with our users. We aim to be fun, quirky, and humorous. In our modern world we are exposed to a constant barrage of news and information from all angles. Therefore it is imperative that we embrace these new services and technologies in order to stay relevant in the minds of our users.

We strive to provide original content. We steer away from resharing memes and blogs and challenge ourselves to create them ourselves. Why? Because we want to speak to our users and our communities, share the voice of our community and showcase the librarians they know.

What equipment and software did you use to make the video? Did you use staff resources?

We do everything ourselves, with library equipment. Our goal is to show our community that you can use library resources to create amazing things. All equipment used is available to our public to hire [borrow] in the library. We used the following equipment:

  • DSLR camera and tripod
  • Lapel microphone
  • 2 sets of film lighting rigs
  • Adobe Creative Suite (Premiere, Photoshop and After Effects)

These resources can all be hired [borrowed] through our training suite and Makerspace. For free.

Library staff around the world have certainly enjoyed these clips. What was the reaction from your local community?

We have a very positive Facebook following in our home town. Our users are like family and they love to see our videos and comment on the librarians they know.


Thanks to Bonnie and Andrew for sharing their experience with this fun idea! It was particularly great to find out that through their Makerspace, the library makes the technology for doing these projects available to patrons. A great way to demonstrate the value and showcase the resources in the library.

Here’s to the humor in our work and life!