These days, we’re more connected than ever. We can connect to PLNs through various hashtags on Twitter. And as librarians, we can share photos and videos of our library spaces and programs on Instagram. And yet, there are still many librarians who feel disconnected. Today, we’re sharing a discussion between TCEA LIB-SIG President Kristi Starr and Vice President Nancy Jo Lambert on the theme better together and why sharing is integral to Future Ready Libraries.
On Sharing Over Social Media
Nancy Jo: One of the things I have observed of late is that things like the Future Ready Facebook group are quite popular. The range of questions and sharing that go on there can vary wildly. It’s obvious there are a lot of librarians across the country who don’t have other librarians in their districts, counties, or systems that they can connect with to share ideas and resources. I have been actively using Twitter for years and cultivated a vast network of librarians nationwide that I rely on to inspire me, answer questions, and look to for resources. But it seems like there are more school librarians who don’t have this than ones who do. What are your thoughts on sharing through social media, Kristi?
Kristi: I think social media sharing is imperative. We become accustomed to working in silos. And let’s face it; librarians have a lot on their plates! The phrase “other duties as assigned” was made for librarians. We probably should have copyrighted it. But back to the question, sometimes social media is viewed as one more thing. Then there is the learning curve and time to build a network. While there are notable exceptions – like you! – many librarians tend toward introversion, and that can make it challenging to reach out and engage. But like anything, it takes a little time, patience, and persistence. Take #txlchat for example. When I started participating in chats, I didn’t know anyone, and they didn’t know me. But through social media, I’ve become acquainted with phenomenal librarians both in-state and out-of-state. When you’re from West Texas, you value those broader connections. Once you feel comfortable consuming, you start adding your own voice. Then things really take off!
On Learning to Curate
Kristi: I think one barrier to effectively utilizing social media as a professional resource is learning how to curate. Nancy Jo, what would you recommend to gather and save the great ideas you encounter?
Nancy Jo: You make some valid points about the barriers that keep school librarians from connecting and building their PLNs. Curation is one of our strengths as librarians! I used to use Pinterest more than I do now. I know a lot of librarians who curate ideas and resources into Pinterest boards. I love making Google Keep notes for everything! Obviously, when I am curating resources that I am going to share with students I add them to my MackinVia. Wakelet is a great tool to curate online, but I haven’t used it very much. I also find that Scrible is a wonderful tool to curate online resources that I am going to use in my professional writing. By using Scrible myself, it makes it easier to teach my students how to use it too. The most important thing about curating ideas and resources is that you share those resources with others. I know that many people find me through my library website, http://www.reedylibrary.com/, because they email me wanting to know if they can use something of mine they found there. I put everything I do on my website, and I offer all of it to other educators for free. I curate all of my own content on my edublogs site, and as of today, I have 892 posts. I love that I can search the content and use the categories and tags to find things. What tools do you use for curation, Kristi? You are so tech savvy and I feel like you are always sharing new things!
Kristi: Honestly, when it comes to curation, I don’t have anything new. Google Keep is great as a personal curation tool. I use Pinterest, but because content can often be dated if you don’t pay attention, I search it most for display ideas. With the professional groups on Facebook, I save posts that I want to revisit. Those three horizontal dots at the top right of a Facebook post will reveal a menu, and the first option is to save the post. In my dream world, Twitter would allow users to do more than ♡ a tweet; it would allow for a variety of responses (and sort by them) or allow users to save tweets. (Are you listening, @Twitter?)
On Using Social Media Professionally
Nancy Jo: Speaking of sharing, I try to post regularly to my school social media and to my professional accounts, and I’m curious about your thoughts on posting to social media professionally and for your library?
Kristi: I always have the best intentions for my library’s social media account when the year starts. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook make it really easy to switch between accounts and an app like ITTT (If This Then That) will allow you to cross-post between platforms with posts that look native to each. But I also post about school goings-on on my personal Twitter and tag my campus and district. I find that students aren’t shy about following teachers, so often my personal posts get as much or more attention than my library posts. So I put more emphasis on my personal and @TCEALIBSIG accounts than my campus account.
On Suggestions to Improve the Social Media Experience
Kristi: Since this is a gift-giving season, do you have any wishes or suggestions for how to improve the social media experience and make better together an easier endeavor? Smore has announced that it will be adding collaborative features, but I’m still waiting. (Pick me for the beta version, @Smore!)
Nancy Jo: I think when it comes to social media, my biggest suggestion is that it’s all about who you are FOLLOWING! You want to fill your newsfeed with the people, organizations, and groups that add to and inspire your professional life! We are better together because of the value we add to our community. My other big suggestion is SHARE! Share with wild abandon everything you do. Every great idea or resource is someone else’s saving grace in a moment of frustration or burn out. It is only through sharing on social media that we can create the wealth of resources to propel us forward!
Kristi: And while you’re all busy adding people and organizations to follow, make sure you include @TCEA @TCEALIBSIG and your LIB-SIG officers @NancyJoLambert, @librarian140 (Brandi Rosales-Dawson), and @StarrReadnRun (Kristi Starr).
This is a guest blog discussion by Kristi Starr and Nancy Jo Lambert. Kristi is the library media specialist and co-campus technology leader at Coronado High School in Lubbock ISD and the President of LIB-SIG. Nancy Jo is a high school teacher librarian at Reedy High School in Frisco ISD and Vice President of LIB-SIG. This blog is part of a monthly series of blogs from LIB-SIG.