Social Networking for Professional Development


I took that picture at Internet Librarian 2008. It was my first time meeting lots of people, like those in the picture. Four of the five librarians shown above were already my friends online, though, so it was more like catching up rather than discovery. These online friends have really helped me learn about the profession and I really encourage any LIS student to network, especially those earning their degree through distance education.

Sometimes I’m a little embarrassed when I have to admit that the only way I know somebody is through Twitter, Friend Feed, or their blogs. This is mostly the case when the person I’m talking to is skeptical of social networking. “Oh, how do you know them? Through Twitter? Hmmm…” (followed by a heavy sigh.) After attending the SLA Leadership Summit last week, I’ve decided online social networking is nothing to be ashamed of and should be considered just another valuable tool in professional development. I was speaking with an SLA chapter president about it and told her that it’s helped me have a more robust view of the what it means to be a librarian than I would have otherwise, since I never met my classmates and have only worked in one small, special library. She said that was a good thing, which I took as a compliment.

So to all my online library friends who help me everyday, thank you. I really don’t think I would be where I am today without you. I know one of my shortcomings is my lack of experience in other libraries, but through Twitter and The LSW, I think I have a better idea of where we’re going and how I can help. Librarians are a community, and nobody’s really in it alone. Social networking helps bridge the gap.

4 thoughts on “Social Networking for Professional Development

  1. i was pretty thrilled to meat you at IL2008.
    and i feel very much the same way about twitter and other online networks – they’ve made me a better librarian (plus i know a lot more jokes now).

  2. Whenever I talk about Twitter and similar social software to librarians who might not have direct experience, I mention how silly it looks from the outside. Only once you have used it and built up a community can you tell how useful it will be for you. I love being able to throw a question out there and get a bunch of thoughtful answers back, or help someone out with an answer and a comment of my own.

    This is all besides the many deep, personal connections I have made online.

  3. When I know people primarily online, I find that I do an awful lot more explaining when answering the “how do you know so-and-so” question. This strikes me funny sometimes, since “We met at a conference” doesn’t require explanation, and yet meeting at a conference is so much more transient than participating in the kind of social/professional online networks that we do.

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