Thing 6: Online Networks
Online networks have the potential to fantastic tools but only if you know how to use them effectively and get the most out of them. As the CPD23 post for Thing 6 highlights, if you use online networks to their full then you can become better connected, better equipped and better known.
I love online networks because without them I’d definitely feel a lot more isolated from the profession so they help me to connect with others, keep myself informed and become known by other professionals. I don’t work in a large library service and being a library is not one of the core functions of my organisation so contact with other library professionals is limited to my small team at work. Technically I don’t even work in a library as I work in a media archive within a large television company so staying informed with topical library issues takes more effort.
I can always be connected to the information profession thanks to the existence of online networks. I don’t have to wait for a quarterly newsletter to be delivered to keep up to date with what has been happening. I don’t have to wait for the annual library conference to roll around to have a catch up with my professional peers because I can interact with them on a regular basis. With a smart phone it is like carrying round lots of little librarians chattering away in my pocket. Or like a nicely joined up dot-to-do drawing (hence my choice of image for this post…)
But online networks are only useful if you know how to use them properly. I think you need to become regular in your use of them to benefit. This doesn’t mean you need to be constantly present on them, or a daily user. But I think it is wise to commit some time that suits you. Similarly I think online networks are best when you are both a consumer and contributor of information. Online networks are user driven and therefore your input is needed to make them a success which can benefit the whole community.
Until Thing 6 I’m not sure I was aware of the existence of CILIP Communities (although having just re-read last years post on this same topic I did say that then too!) I said that CILIP Communities could be of benefit however I’ve not visited it since. Checking back today however I still think it could be a beneficial network to have. Just need to make sure that I use it properly to see those benefits. The discussions section looks like it could be great, but of course as a user driven platform, the participation of the community is required. I will make sure I keep an eye on it for anything I could contribute to.
Last year I said that I didn’t use LISNPN as much as I should. I’m a little ashamed to admit that this is still the case. I’d love to use it more for discussions but I still feel Twitter is the dominant place for the LIS community to discuss anything. LISNPN would of course allow for more detailed and complex discussion, the kind of thing that 140 characters does not have scope for.
I’m also going to add #uklibchat as a form of online network. I think it counts as it is often the same people, it is a regular occurrence, and the hashtag allows discussions to occur outside the scheduled time if desired. Essentially #uklibchat is the online equivalent of a real world seminar group, debate club or knowledge cafe. A group of people gather for a couple of hours to discuss a topic, with helpful facilitators and pre-determined questions to guide the proceedings. #uklibchat is usually a fantastic, thought-provoking and educational experience. Great LIS minds coming together to have a chat. The best bit, that I think really pushes #uklibchat into the online network realm, is the supporting blog, write ups and collaboration that happens between sessions. I often struggle to make it to a chat as I’m not home from work until late or have a diary of clashing events but when I do show up it is very engaging, and if I miss it I will usually catch up later.