Musings, School Libraries

My PLWhaaa?

In today’s RSS feed there was a post by Gwyneth about PLN Dim Sum, and a post by Walt talking about the concept of a PLN in general:

“PLN” seems to be a term that’s automatically understood to mean Personal Learning Network by many (most?) school library bloggers–and not, I think, by most others. I can assure you that the PALINET Leadership Network would not have had “PLN Highlights” as its alert blog name if that TLA (three-letter acronym in this case) was universally understood–or even prevalent outside of school librarianship.

And just as I read this, an e-mail appeared from my uncle (who started reading this blog) asking what a PLN was.  At Hackley, we’re trying to help faculty create their PLNs, and we’re using that term.  But if my uncle and Walt are correct, and I suspect they are, no one knows what we’re talking about!

I don’t believe that the concept of a PLN is new to anyone, it’s the acronym.  And I’ll be the first to admit that librarians are acronym happy (AACR2R anyone?  MARC?  not to mention ALA and its myriad divisions, task forces and roundtables!).  And of course, into every profession a little jargon must fall. It’s the use of jargon in addition to an acronym that confuses people and turns them off.   For years, school librarians were called “library media specialists” and some of us resented losing the title “librarian” because it separated us from other librarians in other settings.  Why are we still engaging in creating a division between us and other librarians (not to mention our peers in education)?

My father has had a PLN for years.  He’d call them his colleagues, even though some (most, I think) aren’t located in the US.  They’ve kept in touch over the years via mail and now e-mail, they read each others publications, and they see each other at conferences and on sabbaticals.  Most of the people I know in other professions have done the same.  Sometimes they’ll call these people their network, other times their colleagues.

So I’m going to join the bandwagon and stop referring to my PLN and talk instead about the incredible network of colleagues I have, the people I learn from and bounce ideas off of and enjoy spending time with, both in “real life” and on-line.  Join me?

3 thoughts on “My PLWhaaa?”

  1. It’s from the education world, this PLN-ness — I did hear that particular verbiage emerged because the DuFours wanted to license Professional Learning Community (PLC), so it was the less-proprietary alternate…

    I was thinking about that this morning as I received an email from a friend asking about a job at the new middle school opening next door. School starts next week, and the position is filled, so it’s a moot point, but I was trying to imagine what I could have said to the principal there (who used to be the science teacher down the hall from me) that he needed to hire this librarian instead of some known quantity. They just seem so worthy of consideration. I don’t feel like I have dark spots in my PLN — everyone is their own constellation. But how to express that?

  2. I have a friend (Chris Craft–@crafty184 in Twitter) who has been pushing back on my thinking of the title PLN too. I has given me pause. So instead of jargon Ive been saying networking with colleagues I’ve met f2f and online from all over the world. Those who wouldn’t understand the phrase PLN, much less teh acronym, certainly understand it when I say it on this different (and more complete) way. I too am beginning to think PLN is now overused and losing meaning.

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