Friday, 12 August 2011

23 Things for Professional Development: Thing #12

Social media isn't really a new thing for me, but I've certainly started using it a lot more since I began taking part in CPD23. I already blogged, but didn't have a blog focussed on my professional activities. I was aware of Twitter, but only signed up after being prompted to do so as part of the CPD23 course. I neever would have heard about, or got involved in, Library Day in the Life, if I hadn't started the CPD23 course or signed up to Twitter.

I guess it goes without saying then, that I really see the benefit in being part of an online community (or two)! The major benefit for me is that collaborative working space, where you can share ideas and hear about developments in the library world much faster than you would do otherwise. This in turn leads to soome good opportunites for networking and learning about other types of libraries. For me, the blogs maintained by staff working on repositories is an especially important part of social networking, because I get to stay up-to-date with what people working in my field are doing, and learn from all those Repository Managers out there about the best (or at least good!) ways of doing things. One other thing social media has been great for has been keeping in touch with all those library workers who I used to know years ago, but don't really get to see anymore. So I learn a bit about what school librarians, college librarians, corporate librarians etc. are doing - and I'm able to stay in touch with some old friends at the same time.

All of this isn't to say that I don't see some hurdles when using social media. For those who embrace it, it's great. It really does foster a sense of community and is a great opportunity. But for those who have never used it before, or feel a little "on the edges", it can be rather daunting. It feels as if everybody knows everybody else, and where do you begin? I found the only way to overcome this was to just jump right in, but that's a scary prospect when you're new to it all. I can fully understand that for some this can be far more offputting, and result in you feeling less a member of the community, not more. You know you're missing out on something, but it's difficult to join in.

The other disadvantage is, perhaps unsurprisingly, time. It can take a long time to check all those really interesting looking links on Twitter, to read all those blogs written by people who really interest you, and to make sure you're visible and watching all the right places. I have to admit, buying a smart phone really helped me here. For ages I'd been saying I couldn't see why I would want one, but as I became more involved with social media, I really started to see the benefit. Now admittedly it's a new toy (only one week old, and therefore rather shiny), but I'm so, so glad I bought one...

Oh, and as for adding a new contact on a social media platform, I've been doing this regularly on Twitter since I joined a month or so ago. Admittedly my numbers are still fairly low, but I'm happy to build them up steadily over time as I find people I truly want to follow. But I did think I'd try and add somebody new for this Thing, so had a hunt and found two new people I wanted to follow (I say "new" people, I've known them both in real life at some stage for one reason or another). Although if you're a Twitter fan and want something fun to follow, I can recommend @madeupstats. It's silly, but it's fun.

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