This week’s Thing is about the benefits of social media and, in particular, the ways that online networking can help to foster professional development.
I am a huge believer in the value of social media platforms. Online social networking has put me in touch with many interesting people whom I wouldn’t otherwise have met, and this means that I now have a large number of people that I can go to for advice about professional issues or career development. Many of the library people whom I follow on Twitter also regularly share useful articles or publish blog posts about their career experiences, and this is extremely beneficial for me as a new professional.
Online social networking has also meant that I am already in touch with some of the people I will be studying with next year at UCL. We have set up a Facebook group and are already getting to know one another by describing our different library backgrounds and sharing our thoughts about the forthcoming course. This will be a great icebreaker when we finally meet in person in a few weeks time!
I definitely think that online social networking fosters a sense of community. I have said before that Twitter provides a valuable way to feel connected to other professionals when you work as a lone librarian, and it also promotes opportunities for collaboration and idea sharing. For example, the recent #UKLibChat project on Twitter has brought together library professionals, trainees and students to discuss current library-related issues and to pool ideas about how challenges can be met and problems solved. This is a great example of people using social media to work together, and projects such as this allow library professionals who are scattered across different geographical locations to nevertheless feel that they are part of a group endeavour.
When I first started using social media platforms for professional networking at the start of my traineeship a year ago, I didn’t realise how integral they would become to my library career. I’ve found that Twitter in particular has added a really valuable extra dimension to my experience as a new professional and I feel much more connected to other people within the library profession because of it. I definitely plan to keep using social media platforms in order to stay in touch with other library professionals across the UK and beyond, and I am certain that these platforms will continue to enhance my professional development.