(Alternate title: A future librarian tries social media)
The second semester of my Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) is barely three weeks old and the resounding message coming through (from lecturers, classmates and social media) is that having a public profile online is not just another string to your bow of impressive achievements: it’s the quiver. To drag this metaphor out even more, your arrows (that is, your impressive college results, your experience, your skill sets) are going to be strewn around the grass unless you’ve got a sleek, aerodynamic, made-to-order quiver to hold them together. This quiver is your online repertoire, and mine, until recently, was lacking.
It’s actually still lacking, but I think it’s a little better now than it was at new year. Here’s a quick run-down of where I currently stand with social media.
I kept getting bombarded with emails telling me to join, and that kind of pressure ultimately grew too strong to resist. A few weeks ago, I halfheartedly dipped a toe into the
grown-up professional network that is LinkedIn. To be frank, the encounter scared me. The idea of sharing my personal history (albeit only its professional side) left me quivering (see what I did there?). So what did I do? I made up a profile that consisted of my name, my current course of study and the subjects I took for my undergrad. I stepped back from this with pride… and then copped on. As if that paltry collection of biographical facts would make the slightest difference to someone assessing my potential for a job! It seems LinkedIn just isn’t for me. I’d much rather waffle on for pages about things I love or engage in even lukewarm debates with people I don’t know on the subject of vampires versus zombies. I was tempted to pull my profile down completely rather than leaving up the shamefully empty offering that’s there, but maybe I’ll get back to it again. (Decision? It stays. For now. And please don’t look at it.)
I use Facebook, but it’s not up for grabs when it comes to my future professional life. Ever since I was a teacher I have kept my privacy settings high and I intend to keep it that way. I use it a lot less than I used to (see Tumblr below for why) so befriending me on Facebook would add little to your online experience.
I’ve been on Twitter for years (in the guise of @confabulist). I go through phases of activity but my tweets have been unusually sporadic over the last six months. Whether this was down to being an MLISer (it’s a word. I don’t study this hard for it not to be.) or my increased activity on Tumblr, I really don’t know.
Yeah right. It’s definitely down to Tumblr. This relatively dry spell is now over. (Tweeters of the world rejoice: I am back!) We’ll see how long this lasts, but for now, I’m attempting to tweet professionally relevant things. So instead of coming across a cool, library-related blog post or Youtube video (seriously, you need to click that) and smiling, thinking ‘that was interesting’ and moving on with my next task, I’m making a supreme effort to stop, copy the url, shorten it on bit.ly and paste it into a tweet with a short but witty comment and an even wittier hashtag. (I’m joking. I’m not going to be a funny Tweeter, so there’s little point trying. I’m aiming to be interesting and informative. When I devolve into chatspeak, memes and mindless celebrity pestering, you have my full permission to hack my password and break into my account.) Quite how my vaguely librarianish tweets will endear me to future employers I’m not sure, but it’s worth a try.
One helpful contact who is currently taking an MLIS in a prestigious American university recently suggested some of us set up a YouTube channel and post regular vlogs about our experience in Library School. I’d certainly subscribe to such a channel if it existed, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to participate. Since I became a graduate student (again) I’ve become less polished by the week. I started out wearing nice dresses and make-up and doing my hair. Now I’m lucky if my socks match. Sitting in front of a camera is just not an option. There is one aspect of the librarian YouTube experience I embrace wholeheartedly. This is librarians performing spoof covers of pop songs in their libraries. This is actually a thing! My favourite offering comes from Darien Library. It’s definitely worth a watch.
Oh Tumblr. It’s one of those things that leaves those outside its fold scratching their chins in confusion. If you’re one of the uninitiated, I’d recommend, for the sake of your future productivity, that you never, ever join up. If you have no desire to protect your productivity, and if you’d like to be in a community of librarians from around the world, then you should definitely think about signing up. (There are plenty of other Tumblr communities too. Indeed, the Tumblarian sub-cult is relatively small. But for the sake this post, I’m not going to stray outside this particular community.) When I set up my librarian-themed Tumblog at the end of August, I had no idea (i) how much time I was going to spend using it, (ii) how many amazing librarians and future librarians I’d meet there, and (iii) how much library-related knowledge I’d absorb just scrolling through my dashboard (that’s Tumblr’s equivalent to a Newsfeed).
So why am I babbling about this here? Why not just blog on Tumblr? Why do I need to set up this blog too? Well, Tumblr’s a funny fish. It’s informal blogging at its best. One post might be a paragraph about my day in college, the next might be a reblog of a picture of a pretty bookshelf, and the next might be a reblog of a pithy quote by a famous author about the wonder of libraries. I suppose it’s like Twitter and Pinterest gave birth to a verbose and prolific infant. I’m still going to do my thing over there, but this WordPress blog is going to feature longer, more thought out posts on (or related to) my opinions of and feelings about librarianship, library school, libraries around the world, and probably a bit about Young Adult and Children’s Literature. I’m going to link the two blogs, so I’ll be putting links to these longer posts over there, and I might include the odd mention of my Tumblog here.
TL;DR: I’ve been told to make an online profile. I’m trying to be more active on Twitter (and less active on Tumblr), I use Facebook, but don’t intend to use it as a professional tool; LinkedIn scares me and I ignore what scares me. I’m going to try to write readable, serious-ish posts here instead of rambling without form on Tumblr. But I’m still going to do that too.