On Being a Librarian

Trends, Achievements, and Perspectives

Thing 4: Current awareness

Another week for 23 Things for Professional Development and I am a tad behind yet am confident to catch up soon. This is a terrifically valuable self-directed program where I am constantly exploring new online tools, developing stronger skills with those I already use, and am connecting with many other professional librarians to expand my community of practice.


I started a Twitter account a few years ago but abandoned it because at the time I believed I had little to contribute, didn’t have a smartphone with the Twitter application so I could follow and comment quickly and easily, and frankly, I wasn’t sure Twitter was going to prove a valuable professional tool. At that time, people were tweeting about their lunch, muddy shoes, or barking dogs.  Not really creating new knowledge.

My current Twitter account @agentlibrarian is only a few months old and I am keeping it strictly “profession centred”, following other librarians of similar ilk, organizations that tweet about trends and new technologies, PD opportunities, and hashtags from conferences or discussions. There is a fair amount of literature about libraries and librarians who Twitter.  Library Success: A best practices wiki provided some foundational guidelines for creating a Twitter account and tweeting.

On Twitter I follow few and have fewer followers yet I am beginning to appreciate the value of focused and thoughtful tweeting.   Indeed to improve my awareness of transliteracy, digital trends, instructional technologies, online tools, and ideas presented at conferences, Twitter is demonstrating worth.

I have followed the Handheld Librarian conference last February, the WILU Conference in June while I attended both of them. Most recently I followed the ALA conference in New Orleans and the TEDx Librarians in Toronto when I could not attend. It was rather delicious to follow the tweets while in my own apartment thousands of kilometers away and feel as though I was right there with my friends and colleagues.

I  follow only 101 people and organizations and have only 41 fellow tweeters  following me.  It takes times to access whom and what organization I would  follow.  I give considerable thought when assessing what possible value the organization has for my career and my profession, on what aspects of my professional do I want to focus, and what is the degree of credibility of the people, organization, or events I follow in the context of my professional development.  Some of the organizations I follow are:

Libraries I follow include the New York Public Library @nypl and the Toronto Public Library @torontolibrary .

A few of personalities and fellow librarians I enjoy reading Tweets from are:

Check out my visual.ly.com image of my Twitter’ing! http://bit.ly/rto7KA. Seeing my Twitter account graphically demonstrates that I must pay more and better attention to following, tweeting, and expanding my following and followers.

RSS Feeds

Many  years ago I signed up for a wide variety of cycling, book, publisher, foodie, and  library related RSS feeds.  These feeds were set up to populate one of my email accounts.  In short order I was overrun with alerts.  Argh!  I couldn’t keep up and soon balked at any comment made on any feed  becoming very disillusioned with the importance or value of following RSS  feeds.

I had to re-evaluate why I wanted to follow a site or discussion, what was the credibility of the site or discussion, and how aligned to my career trajectory were the issues and topics in those feeds. Did the site really hold value and interest for me?

When Google launched their Google Reader tool I was all over it.  I signed up and  have maximized the features of that tool. I am darn-tooting happy to have done so. Why do I use Google Reader?

I have over 60  websites that I want to read. Creaking crank arms, I just don’t have the time to read each of them every day or even every week. Each website adds a new discussion or posting on a schedule particular to them and not at all regular.  How can I manage my time best to monitor all these sites efficiently?  I don’t have the time to check each one every day or even every week.  Google Reader allows me to set up these feeds and it checks them for new content when I can’t.   All I have to do is login to Google Reader when I have the time and inclination and check out all the feeds in one place!  Yeah! I can read the RSS feed right there are the Reader or I can decide to go to the feed website.

Keeping up, being the change-agent I believe I am, the thought-leader I hope to be requires extreme dedication and rigorous processing.

Twitter and RSS feeds are part of that micro-blogging, micro-Web 2.0 environment that I can leverage in support of my professional development.  Reading “Blogging and RSS Second Edition: A Librarian’s Guide” by Micheal P. Sauers helped clarify some aspects of blogging and micro-blogging heightening my understanding forcritically assessing the value of RSS feeds and Twitter and applications within a library environment and for our profession.

Using these tools is also integral to the development of transliteracy competencies.  Critically assessing each tool by asking how each aligns, supports, and/or augments the other within the context of the issues in which I am interested and my profession is exceedingly important.

Keep is coming.

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