Just seen on Twitter that this week is a catch up week for CPD23. Yay! I won't get anymore behind while I am trying to catch up 4 things.
So onto Things 6 & 7. I am going to combine these as Thing 6 looks at online networks and 7 at real life networks. With regards to online networks, I am a big fan of Twitter (see my post on Thing 3), but the two specifically mentioned on the CPD23 blog are Facebook and Linkedin. I have expressed my reservations re Facebook quite a few times and am still not tempted to potentially jeopardise my career and whilst my teaching union have relaxed their stance on members being a part of social networks, they have issued a set of quite stringent do's and don'ts. My Twitter account is permanently locked down and I go by a name that is not my real name - have just done a test and searched Twitter with my actual name and you don't find me. So Facebook is a no-go area for me.
Whilst I have known about Linkedin for a while now, I have never felt especially motivated to try it. I took a look at an Infographic by Charlie White which said that Linkedin has over 10 million users - I didn't think it was that big. Mistake number 1. I think part of the problem is that I have always regarded it as a professional work thing, more akin to businesses etc than librarians or teachers. As a business person you are required to promote you and your business to maximise success - oh! Maybe Linkedin does have something to offer me and my profession because of the fact we live in a society which is increasingly undervaluing (make that wiping out of existence) libraries and librarians, especially professional posts. I do like the idea that Linkedin is seemingly orientated towards the professional and this was evident in the data showing that top level managers tend to use it more for promoting their business, whilst middle management and entry level workers rely on it for networking with other colleagues etc. Thank you to the CPD23 blog for mentioning this amazing analogy as I can instantly understand the difference between Linkedin and Facebook (the office rather than the back garden barbecue) Having taken a quick look at linkedin, I see that it can also be used to reconnect with past classmates which fills me with foreboding. I was never that keen on Friendsreunited and have the attitude that I am still in contact with those I want to be, i.e. with whom I have never lost contact. I do accept that using Linkedin to create a PLN of business contacts will always be useful especially when trying to boost your career and obviously as a way of sharing ideas, answering questions it would be beneficial, BUT I can do all those things via Twitter so I can't see myself joining Linkedin any time soon. Just having another login and password to remember as well as not forgetting to use Linkedin (the only value you get out of such forums is dependant on how much/little you use them I find), is just a hassle I can do without at the moment.
Other online networks which look/are promising are CILIP Communities - I am a CILIP Blogger (my blog has the much prized logo on it) and have set up the feed as part of my Google Reader. I like Google Reader as the posts are marked as read as I scroll down the screen. This allows me to skim over those which I don't think will interest me, especially useful as working in a school with a firewall which filters many social media sites (not all), it can be frustrating to laboriously override the network with my staff ID only to find that I wasn't very interested in it anyway! I had never heard of the Librarians as Teachers network (LAT) so this is something I will be looking into in the future. Having taken a brief look at its origins, I find it resonates with my own beliefs in that I think academic librarians would be better served with a teaching qualification as well (it would put to rest at the very least the discrepancy in salaries in schools if librarians were dual qualified).
I find I get so much more from my online network than my real life network - should this be so? Am I becoming a 'geek'? I don't think so, although I know many people who think there is something geekish about librarians and ironically it is not the students in my school! I have been a member of CILIP since 1998 and to be honest, until CILIP Communities and the regular online bulletins (e.g. information world etc), I have always questioned what I really get out of my membership. The monthly journal is nice to read, but...... I know that CILIP isn't just about the headquarters in London and I have made the effort to get involved with my regional branch (see previous posts) and indicated an interest in setting up an south west branch of the School Librarians Group, but there are times when I feel isolated from Ridgemount Street, London and the SE where it all seems to happen. I am also a member of the School Librarian Association and to be honest, feel very similar; nice magazine, informative website and ....... ? Having been involved in writing for a publication of their's I recognise that the publishing house is very good, especially for newly qualified school librarians who are often solo workers as well, but again.... Perhaps its me? When I began working in school libraries I was so much a solo worker, brand new to the profession and still working on my MSc at Aber that I think I became very self reliant. There are some in my school who call me 'prickly' (thank you - line manager) because of my overwhelmining championing and protectiveness towards the library and its services, but when you are a solo librarian, it does fall to you to 'do it all' and I sometimes think that I need to look elsewhere for some support sometimes, but to be honest, my online network ticks all the boxes for me most of the time.