On the same day that I came across a thread on “Ask a Librarian” on the LIS-LINK JISCMail list, Chris Sexton, Director of Corporate Information and Computing Services at the University of Sheffield, was sharing her 5 interesting things found on my Twitterfeed today… which included:

Ten years of The Guardian on-line plotted in expletives – very illuminating!

MPs expenses by geographical location– a good example of information from the Guardian’s databank, in a mashup with map and postcode data.

How cats can give us tips to be good corporate strategists – if you’ve got cats, you’ll appreciate this.

How to turn your house lights off using Twitter – will appeal to the really geeky

Bakertweet – a way for bakers to tell the world that their bread has just come out of the oven

I had also come across the first two examples in my Twitter feed. What Twitter provides to Chris and myself, it seems, is not only a mechanism for asking questions to my friends, colleagues and others  who have chosen to follow me, but also finding things out from them without needing to ask.

Do we, I wonder, need to develop Ask-A-Librarian type services any longer when services such as Twitter are now available to everyone for free? And if the response is we need a trusted service, can’t we make use of the existing infrastructure (which need not be Twitter, of course) and wrap a trust mechanism around it? And although on the LIS-LINK list there was a view thatSince IM widgets rely on external systems which sometimes crash, the reliability of any service based on them can be adversely affected” aren’t in-house systems also likely to fail? And will an in-house system provide the potential for a 24×7 coverage?

Now I should add that my speculation on whether a micro-blogging tool such as Twitter could be used as an Ask-A-Librarian type service  is very much ‘thinking out loud’. But it does seem to me that with the large numbers of Twitter applications which are now available it might be worth carrying out such speculative thinking.