As part of my module, Contemporary Issues in Professional Practice, we are required to work on our Personal Learning Networks. I’m actually going to refer to mine as a Professional Learning Network because writing my blogs, keeping up with recent events in the Library World via Twitter and Facebook and going to events are all things I hope will continue far beyond my college days. I think these outlets allow us access to so many more people and so much more information than we could have even dreamed about a decade ago and who knows what will happen in the future. Personally, I don’t believe that PLNs are a new phenomenon; people have always had networks, just not to the same level that is available to us since the advent of Web 2.0. Now, instead of just teachers, lecturers and other students in our class, we can speak to people the world over and we can see their thoughts and read their opinions in many different forms. We can interact and learn from each other in really exciting and innovative ways, for example, the YouTube video I have embedded or the Prezi I have created.
In the last couple of weeks I have been really lucky to have met some lovely librarians that have read and forwarded my blog and I have gotten a great response. I have new followers on Twitter and my views have grown exponentially in the space of a few days. It has been exciting and completely overwhelming. The world can be a very small place when you have the magic of social media working with you. You can connect with people, you can share ideas and news, create and inform about events and you can market to a far bigger community than you may have dreamed possible. Social media is an extremely powerful tool, especially for organisations like libraries that may not have huge budgets but need to market, that hope to connect with new users and (let’s be honest) want to appear (and actually be) tech savvy and therefore NOT old-fashioned. Its about communication and collaboration!
The world is changing and we are changing with it!
Unfortunately, it is not all sunshine and flowers; there are issues in relation to being able to connect with a larger network. Firstly, you have to be careful about what you say. You don’t want to appear in a negative light to your new (and large) network if you ever hope to secure a job. You have to be careful not to use someone else’s content as your own. I can embed the YouTube video but it contains information so you know it wasn’t made by me. You have to be aware that other people may put content online but there are still rules about what you can do with it. You have to have respect for people. I am including this because if you choose to put your ideas out there then you have to respect the fact that people may disagree and instead of being upset by this you can, and should, use it as a learning experience. However, there are also Trolls! My advice about these kinds of people is to just ignore them. Engaging in an argument with a troll is a pointless and frustrating exercise. These are issues that will also continue into the professional world. Respect for people’s property and people’s differences will be important in any walk of life; the information professional or librarian will know this better than anyone.
Be considerate of others. Maintain your own integrity. Be honest. Learn and grow.
Basically, having a network is about connecting with people and we should all be getting good at this with the amount of group work involved in our MLIS. I find it interesting and frankly, quite fun, to engage with others and learn from the experience. By going to the LAI’s HSLG and A&SL event I basically threw myself in the deep-end but it has been so worthwhile because it has forced me to learn how to swim in the pool that is networking and I have to say I’m loving every minute of it!