Or, Twitter & blogs as ways of knowing, Part 2.
A month or so ago, I poked a little gentle fun at social media extremists, basically exploring the idea that engaging online is the be-all and end-all of the library profession versus the idea that much of what we do online is peripheral to the main thrust of what librarianship is all about. To a certain degree, I guess I was setting up a couple of straw people just for the purpose of knocking them down but at the time it seemed like contrasting those extremes was a useful way of looking at the issue.
Of course, I don't believe either extreme is the correct path, but rather somewhere in the middle. Curiously, I didn't actually state what I thought the correct path for online social media engagement might be.
My core assumption is that for academic librarians, professional development is a key part of our jobs. We must keep up with what is happening in the broader library world, the worlds of our patrons and the the world as a whole. Keeping up includes current events, disciplinary trends, applications of new technologies and social trends, particularly as they effect higher education and the lives of the mostly young people who are in our student cohort.
So without further ado, John Dupuis' Laws of Librarian Social Media Engagement.
- Engaging professional communities through online social media is a good thing
- Not everybody has to be present on every platform
- Pick one or two that make sense for you
- Stick with the one(s) that make sense and contribute to the community
- Engage beyond the library community
In other words, if it was up to me, I think it's a good idea for people to be engaged online in at least one place: through blogging or on Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, Nature Network, LinkedIn, 2collab, Mendeley or whatever. Pick one and get involved; amongst all of us we can cover them all increasing our presence online as a profession, sharing our perspective and bringing outside perspectives back to librarianship.
And I think that's an important point. Part of engaging is getting beyond the library world into the worlds of those we hope to serve with our collections and services. It can mean crossing over into science communities or technology or marketing or history or fine arts or higher education administration or whatever.
Some good examples of that would be the presence of a couple of librarians here on ScienceBlogs, over at Nature Network (Frank Norman is an excellent example of a librarian who engages scientists at Nature Network) or the rather harmonious co-existence of librarians and science people on Friendfeed. And I'm sure there are others that i don't know about.
Now, do I really think every librarian will join a social network for professional development purposes? Of course not. You're never going to get everyone to do any one thing. And for what it's worth, Twitter, et al. just aren't for everyone.
What I do think is that everyone owes it to themselves and to their profession to at least give it a try. And yes, this statement would apply beyond librarianship to any profession.