Setting up a PLN

So I am late to the game, I know…or early for late-adopting folks. But for those, like me, who haven’t set one up yet, a PLN is a personal learning network. You may already be informally creating a PLN, as I was, and don’t know it. Like me, you may bookmark things that you want to keep tabs on, follow certain blogs, or even set up an RSS feed for your most-favorite blogs not to be missed. All well and good, this approach, but I stumbled upon creating a PLN, and I realized that while my gathering of all this information was second to none, I didn’t actually contribute anything to the discussion or discovery of ideas/actions in libraries.

To remedy this, I am creating this blog. It is my formal inclusion of all things library and therefore part of my learning circle of resources: great blogs I follow, ideas to try later, technical work-arounds, social media interactions with innovative ideas, and generally bookmarks of websites and ideas that I’d love to have, share, do. The contributing part is getting my feet a little more wet into social media first: blogging here and Twitter… really. Facebook, I am okay with, but I didn’t get twitter, and now I love it, but I struggle with the organization of all this information! Hopefully this blog will be a little bit of the contribution of ideas, and a lot of organizing all of the great resources and voices of the librarian world.

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“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Shakespeare (Romeo & Juliet)

I am currently a part-time Academic Reference Librarian.  But that has changed this week.  My title that is. I will still be doing the exact same thing that I have for five years, but what people call me, and how they find me is changed. I think it became Research Librarian. Or Research Instruction Librarian.  I just peeked over my cubicle and asked my co-worker what our title is now… Her answer: “We don’t have it yet.”  Apparently the decision is stuck in committee.

The idea is of course to make ourselves more of a presence that college students can relate to.  Do they even know what “reference” is, let alone a Reference Librarian? Is it easier for them to understand that we help with research mostly, so they should call us Research Librarians.  But we teach too (Not official Faculty, but our instruction is valid, based on pedagogy of ACRL Information Literacy standards).  We have declining use at this “Reference Desk” and want to reach more students.  We want them to come to us.  Could be our first problem.

In discussions yesterday, I thought we could try to put ourselves where the students are, and have multiple service points in the library.  The trend now is to “rove.” Ugh.  I thought my days in retail sales, and asking, “Can I help you with anything today?” were over! No thank you.  I would much rather come to a mutual agreement and go where students are, as in on every floor, and also remain passive, so students don’t feel we are pushing ourselves into their space.

In theory, this is great. But the reality that I was faced with, as the idea was semi-shut-down, was “how do we staff this?” We already have trouble getting staff on the regular desk, and what about night hours, when staff is at almost zero.  Staff with students? We thought no. So now my title is changed and I will sit at the desk and still wait for students to come to me for “research” questions.  Hmmm. I think our name matters, so changing it is a good idea, and who we are and what we do matters too.  I just think changing to make it easier for students in one way and not another, isn’t helping in the fullest way that we could.  It isn’t convenient for us to staff the desk, so we won’t.  We need to break away from what is good for us and focus on mission…to serve the students and faculty where they are. I don’t think anyone would argue with this, is just the method of the doing,  that is the question.