Connecting

One of the big themes running through my life as a student this semester is connecting, mainly through connecting to others in the profession through the Internet. When Professor Stephens highlighted the quote from the New Yorker in his reflective practice lecture about “some of our closest friends and most significant professional connections are people we’ve only ever met on the Internet” my heart jumped and my ears opened to listen a little closer, in other words it really resonated with me. As an English speaking budding librarian living in Hungary my ‘in-person’ professional network, at least with other librarians, equals zero, which means that all of my professional network is online. Some of my professional connections, such as some of the students in this class and our professor, I’ve had personal contact with, but others I have only read their writing or they have read my writing.

The interesting thing is that the majority of my connections, apart from fellow iSchool students and professors, this semester rose out of a connection which was not made. For my international librarianship course I was assigned to be part of the International Librarians Network (ILN) peer mentoring program, but unfortunately my original partner was unable to participate. Since I didn’t have a partner I had to do other activities instead, so I participated in ILN Twitter chat, volunteered at the Library 2.015 Conference, and submitted a postcard to the ILN blog. Each of these activities allowed me to gain a deeper knowledge of the library profession and ‘meet’ people I may never meet in person. One of the most meaningful connections I made was through the Twitter chat, when a Hungarian-Slovakian LIS student contacted me about chatting. In the end she became my ILN peer mentor and my connection to Hungarian libraries. We spend an hour or two every week chatting on Facebook about education, libraries, and life. Being able to learn about Hungarian LIS education and Hungarian and Slovakian libraries through my mentor is invaluable. I believe that she has learned about North American libraries through me as well. Going back to the quote about professional connections being online, I believe this is one of the most significant professional connections I’ve ever made, but I am still hoping that one day soon we can make an in-person visit.

A note on ILN: If you have time I highly recommend becoming part of the ILN peer mentoring program to broaden your horizons past North America. It works in rounds, so that you do not need to make a long term commitment, plus they give prompts ever two weeks to keep the conversation going. Information on the program can be found here.

Reference:

Cep, C. (2014, March 19). The pointlessness of unplugging. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-pointlessness-of-unplugging

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12 Responses to Connecting

  1. Jenny Clark says:

    Hi @ameszaros – great post! You are the perfect example of a Hyperlinked Librarian! You really use the Internet to your advantage by creating opportunities for networking and connecting. I enjoyed looking at your “post card” and seeing the pictures of your library, it looks like a great space for you and your students! ILN also sounds very interesting, especially to someone as un-worldly as myself! 🙂

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  2. This is exactly what being a connected and reflective librarian is all about: using tools and networks to advantage as a professional. Thanks for the postcard link. I will share it with my INFO200 class.

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  3. Andrea Meszaros says:

    @jclark2704 thank you for the comment. If you have time you should do ILN! If not take time to look at their blog from time to time it is interesting.

    @michael thank you for sharing my postcard. The current prompt for ILN fits in with being connected and reflective librarian. It’s about personal branding http://interlibnet.org/2015/11/08/discussion-topic-personal-branding/

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  4. Kristen Amaral says:

    Thanks for the tip on the ILN peer mentoring program.

    I will check it out! 🙂

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  5. Sarah Liberman says:

    @ameszaros, this post got the wheels inside my head turning. 🙂 I’ve always been curious about how libraries and museums around the operate, how they differ and are similar to the ones I’ve been in domestically (US). ILN sounds pretty flexible, so I might look into it! I skimmed through the website, and other than trying to match persons in similar LIS organizations (but who are at different points of their career, if I understood things), are there other qualifications or selections, e.g., state of employment, student status, choice of countries, etc,?

    Thanks for sharing your ILN experience! You illustrate a fine example of developing personal learning networks (PLN), reaching out to others, and infinite learning.

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  6. Cheryl Ocampo says:

    Hi Andrea,

    This is a wonderful reflection on the Hyperlinked Library Model. I might say that this is most important one. The ability to connect with others for a shared purpose is powerful. Making meaningful connections and sharing…..YES:)!

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  7. Andrea Meszaros says:

    @sairuh with ILN you can tell them what type of library you are interested in and what stage of career. You can be can be at any point in your career. Because of the nature of the program, you may not get your first choice in mentor – type of library/career stage. I don’t think they let you choose a country. If your mentor doesn’t connect with you they try to connect you with some one else, who might not be as close match to what you asked. I would say give it a try or at least check out their blog and try to join one of their Twitter chats.

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  8. Jenny Clark says:

    @ameszaros I will definitely be keeping up with ILN 🙂 Thanks for the great resource!

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  9. Daniel Kiely says:

    @ameszaros Thanks for the post – made me think: just deleted my FB account (kept Twitter) and generally feel like my digital/online connections are pretty shallow (for lack of a better term). I really struggle to make meaningful connections online, and yet I met my wife online. Think that if I wasn’t surrounded by a library staff and frequent visits to state-wide meetings with librarians, I might make more of a digital effort. Enjoyed the New Yorker article too.

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  10. Andrea Meszaros says:

    @k2theiely I understand what you mean about online relationships, but I guess for me it depends on outside factors. Living so far away from my home country it I love seeing my friends photos and I use messenger a lot. If everyone you love and care about are close by and they will call/text if they want to invite you to something then there is nothing wrong about choosing not to be active on Facebook. For me although I do, do some professional nextworking on Facebook I use it mostly for personal stuff. I do find that I’m actual closer with the people I see day-to-day than my friends I only see ‘online’.

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  11. Jenny Mai says:

    Your story shows the power of technology for creating and nurturing relationships, which is the opposite of what many fear about Internet and mobile technology. Thanks for introducing us to ILN. I will definitely look more into it.

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