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.