There’s been so much said about developing your PLN that many of you are already rolling your eyes. I do understand that, and there are times when my eyes roll, too.
Yes, it’s a jargon phrase. Haven’t we always built a network of friends and colleagues that provided us with advice and support? Isn’t part of being a librarian about sharing and collaborating? So why the fancy name? I have no idea why we need a fancy new name, but then, I always called myself a librarian. So what do I know?
What I do know is that these connections have made me look like a miracle worker twice this calendar year (in other words, in the past 68 days, I’ve twice reached out and twice been helped by my friends/colleagues/PLN).
The first time was when an art teacher wanted to look at a book they’d remembered from their long-ago childhood, The Elephant Who Liked to Smash Small Cars. It’s out of print. Copies cost well over $100. Could I help? I looked around, and then checked out WorldCat. There was a copy nearby, at the Bank Street library… I looked at their catalog, it was in! So I e-mailed Lisa, a friend through our local library association and asked. “Sure, just fill out the ILL form”. I did. Then I got the response that it was in their reference only collection (something I hadn’t understood from their website). I didn’t intend to namedrop, but I did say, well, Lisa led me to understand… 15 minutes later, I got another call saying Lisa had told them to send me the book.
Did I look like a hero to the art teacher? You bet. And it’s because I’d taken the time to build this relationship with Lisa, who knew I would care lovingly for the book and return it in great shape.
Then last week our Head asked if I could help him locate a cartoon he’d seen in a Wilson Library Bulletin from December 1971. Gulp. I checked CUFTS. Nothing earlier than 1977, and no full text before 1983. So I sent out a request on Twitter. Not five minutes later, @franceyharris responded. I sent her the information, she got the issue out of deep storage at UIUC, and e-mailed me a .pdf of the cartoon. My Head’s response? “You should get a prize for Librarian Easter Egg Hunt of the Year! Thank you, and thank your friend at University of Illinois/Champaign-Urbana – proving the value of high-density storage!”
Now, YMMV when it comes to your PLN and the connections they have to reference collections and deep storage, but they may know someone who knows someone… and that’s how these things happen. I’ve helped others in any way I can when I see those types of requests coming via Twitter or one of my many e-lists. It’s paying it forward – good karma begets more good karma.
Yes I’m bragging: my PLN rocks!
(And now for the shameless commercial plug: another member of my PLN, the amazing Courtney Lewis at Wyoming Seminary, and I co-wrote a chapter of Independent School Libraries on the value of networking. Pre-order your copy today!)