Over the past several years a few times a month I am asked, “How do you keep up?” My answer is always the same, by knowing other librarians, educators, technology-interested people, etc. who stay informed on topics that I need to know about. And, by connecting with those people via a variety of venues such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YALSA, library school classrooms, and so on. Learning from others and knowing that if I don’t know something, someone else in my professional learning network (PLN) will, has really opened up my ability to keep up. I have given up thinking that I need to know everything – really I have – and am comfortable with knowing that what I don’t know others will. All I have to do is ask my PLN, or pay attention to various virtual spaces where PLN hang out. For example:

  • As some YALSA Blog readers know, Twitter is one of my favorite methods for communicating and learning. Every day I learn something on Twitter and often it’s from other librarians, teachers, or technology savvy Tweeters. For example, the other day I learned about the work of Project Information Literacy via a post from John Palfrey (from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard). I don’t know Palfrey personally, but he’s still in my PLN. And, because he is, I found a great resource to use and keep up with in order to be better informed about information literacy.
  • Last spring I was ready to change the syllabus for one of the library school classes that I teach. I asked a previous student, now a school librarian, about the class and she and I came up with a plan to update the syllabus and assignments so that they better supported the needs of new school librarians. By asking someone new to the field I was able to find out more about some of the challenges for new librarians and better understand those challenges. I can’t have that first-hand experience, no way I can be new to the field at this point, but by working with someone in my PLN I was able to learn about what those challenges are.
  • In July YALSA hosted an echat on the topic of job-hunting. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to participate in the chat when it took place, but I did read the transcript. By reading the transcript I learned some techniques for resume building, interviewing success, and more. My PLN for this chat was made up of the people who attended and the facilitator, Courtney Young.

Those are just a few of the ways I integrate my PLN into my daily keeping up routine. I know if I didn’t have this PLN I would not be able to know what I know. I also know that if I didn’t stay connected via a PLN using Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YALSA, students, and so on, I wouldn’t be able to keep up. The pressure is off because I know what I know and I know that what I don’t know I can find out from someone else by checking in with my PLN.

If you don’t have a PLN go out and build one. If you do have a PLN, how do you use it to keep up and learn from others? Let YALSA Blog readers know. By the way, you might also read a recent blog post by Carolyn Foote on connecting with others in order to be more successful at work.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

One Thought on “30 Days of Back to School: Learning From Each Other

  1. Twitter is also a big part of my PLN, although I find that I use it very differently now that I work full-time–I’m rarely on Twitter outside of work hours, which means that I’m probably missing a lot (particularly from folks in different time zones).

    YALSA resources are also huge for me–I don’t subscribe to YALSA-bk (I feel like I wade through too many emails as it is), but I’m constantly using the awards and book lists, the blog, and conference materials.

    I also use the listserv for my state school library association, but I find I’m contributing more to it than getting resources from it. I offer up suggestions/answers to queries, but I’ve asked very few of my own.

    My RSS feed is also a huge part of my PLN. Aside from this blog, I follow a few education, library and technology sources to try to stay current. And when I have time, I check in with the New York Times online–mostly in education and technology.

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