“I heard you like PLNs so here’s a PLN for your PLN.” – Julie Jurgens

I’m so glad Anne wrote her post first, because it’s made my job so much easier. Do everything she said.

Once you’ve found your people (youth librarians doing storytimes, for most of us), start seeking out librarians outside your specialty. Find other kinds of librarians (public, school, academic), teachers, innovators, leaders, customer service workers, authors, etc., and get a broad perspective on the wide variety of duties and experiences that librarianship entails. Engage people in your community, because you never know when an opportunity for collaboration will emerge.

I’d also add that, if at all possible, you should make your twitter public. Now this isn’t for everyone, and everyone has their own reasons for wanting locked accounts. If you lock yours because of stalking, harassment, or any other intensely personal reason, keep on keeping on. If yours is locked because you’re always bad mouthing your library, your coworkers, and the people you serve, well, then, quit it, because even with a locked account, you shouldn’t be saying anything on social media that you wouldn’t be okay with your boss or your boss’s boss overhearing.

But Julie! you cry. My boss and my job and my patrons are terrible and I need to vent!

Sure, I get this. I’ve had terrible jobs and terrible bosses. Yet while venting conversations are important–and can often help you solve problems–those are not the kind of conversations you should be having out in the open on social media. Every workplace, no matter how wonderful, will have issues from time to time. But often times twitter or a large and very public facebook group is not the place to discuss these problems. There are exceptions, of course, but generally, if you’re happily employed and would like to remain so, don’t air your grievances in public.

But I have a solution for you! Not the only solution, mind you, but a solution. Once you have your vast, public PLN in place, start finding and curating your smaller, more intimate PLN. Find people who you click with on a deeper level, who might be a few steps beyond you on their career path, people whose judgment you trust. Exchange email addresses with them, or create a private facebook or google group. Then, have those negative, tricky, thorny, venting conversations with them in those private spaces.

This is where you’ll vent, in gory and exacting detail, about how much your coworkers can annoy you, about how you’re convinced your director is embezzling money, about that one patron who drives you absolutely batty. And you’ll vent not just to be a dick, but because you know your PLN is going to have good advice about how to deal with your situation. They will let you know that your workplace is beyond dysfunctional, it’s abusive, and you need to start job hunting. They will let you know that stress is normal, but crying every afternoon in the bathroom is not. They will let you know that saying “no” to more projects is okay sometimes. And on and on.

Lastly, with both your inner and outer PLN, I’d suggest finding opportunities to take things offline and into the real world. Organize meet ups in your general area so people can socialize and put faces and names to twitter handles. Connect at conferences as much as possible. As great as connecting online is, getting to hang in real life is so much better, so try to get as much of that happening as you can. Even a google hangout can go a long way in helping strengthen connections.

In summation, I’ve never made a flannel board set. One time I laminated pictures of goats and stuck velcro on the back of them to tell “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” It was pretty awesomely terrible.

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Julie Jurgens blogs at Hi Miss Julie! and tweets @himissjulie. I eagerly await the day she releases a full album of storytime staples. Maybe with some bonus tracks that are not storytime appropriate.
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