Saturday, 1 October 2011

Thing 12: Putting the social into social media

This is the one Thing I have not been looking forward to as I’m quite ANTI social media generally; however, that mostly relates to my personal life which is not on discussion here [thank heavens]. No, as far as using social media for professional and work purposes, I am finally coming to the realisation of just how beneficial it can be. Therefore, this post will mainly cover my experience of social media as a tool used for 'professional purposes' rather than an active tool for career develpoment as promotion of one's workplace is in essence, promotion of oneself.

I started off by reading Debbie Raven’s CILIP article with interest; she discusses how the images of sites such as Twitter and Facebook when used for work purposes have changed recently and are now seen in a more positive light. Moreover she says that by being part of what she calls an active community of practice helps the individual’s professional development. She mentions the research carried out by Karen Butterworth in LIS professional’s use of blogs and the surprising statistics this has unearthed [e.g. 54% regularly reading blogs with only 5% never reading them and 93% reading LIS specific blogs]. These LIS professionals saw this activity as a practical strategy making their daily networking and information-gathering tasks more efficient. However, on the downside Raven comments on the fact that there are still many libraries that do not encourage such activities in the work sphere and [apart from the odd tiny bit] I am not actively using these new social media tools during my work day but I hope this might change soon.


I also read a few Thing12 posts by other CPD23 participants and found those by Dark side of the catalogue, Palely loitering and Taken for binding not only very well written but also encompassing a lot of what has been my experience with social media so far. For me personally, the most amazing benefit [with regards to social media] from CPD23 is the access to a vast melting pot of like minded professionals who are all sharing their experiences and opinions via their blogs. The majority of them are streets ahead of me but that’s okay – I’m constantly learning about new things and picking up tips all the time. Secondly, I am really starting to get into my stride with Twitter but it has taken time. I didn’t take to its immediacy and transient languages straight away but have persevered and am now starting to Tweet about LIS and work related subjects instead of just replying to others and re-tweeting [although I am also enjoying a bit of Downton Abbey chit-chat J]. Thirdly the very act of writing these posts about my library experiences has given me [as an LIS professional] a new confidence and relevancy I have been [in the past few years] sorely lacking.

 I have only signed up to the very minimum of the social media tools covered during CPD23 but I can honestly say it is only because the time I can spend on this course right now is very limited and not because I couldn’t be bothered. That said, I also need to remember to use them when I do get the time and I can give you two examples of missed opportunities over the last few weeks. Firstly, we [that is my Library] were on television – prime time Welsh news [BBC Wales Today]! The Librarian had been contacted by the BBC and asked if we had an early Welsh map [yes just a fewJ] so he brought out a Humphrey Lhuyd map [published 1573 and showing the original county boundaries] as they wanted to show it in relation to a news story on recent new Welsh county border shifts. So he was filmed with said map along with two other members of staff working dutifully by [I was on leave - another opportunity for stardom missed]. Now, the Librarian did tell me about it two days before the piece actually aired, ample time for me to have a good old Tweet or blog about it but did I? Err no. The next example concerns the Librarian again, this time giving a lunch time talk in our lovely shiny new Clore Discovery Centre [on Powys: Land of Castles?] which by the way, was full to capacity. Now again, I knew about this talk months in advance but did I Tweet or blog about it? Err no. That said; I am getting better and only last week I Tweeted [in good time] about another talk given by the Librarian [on Siege and Destruction at Raglan Castle but this time at St Fagans: National History Museum] and you can see it in all its glory if you care to follow me at @SquirrelLib. I did sign up early on to follow Stephen Fry on Twitter but he posts so many Tweets and it was taking so long to trawl through them I had to “unfollow” him; am now concerned I have committed a sacrilegious act of epic proportions.  

In conclusion and with regards to personal career development, my blossoming relationship with social media has made me feel, on the negative side, a little "exposed" but on the positive side, more "visible" and I think both will do me good.

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