Friendship and Community

This post could also be called “My Love Letter to my Library Friends and my Profession, post-ACRL 2015 Conference.

Before ACRL, I had been struggling to really explain our online librarian community to others at work. Have you ever tried to explain to a non-library colleague how important “Library Twitter” is for your sanity, your existence, and, heck, for my mental stimulation in thinking about future research? Us librarians, we are a strong group. And we are serious networkers. We often find each other through social media channels, finally connect face to face at conferences, but we often also become actual friends in real life. One of my favorite things about Library Twitter is that all of us–public services, tech services, academic, special, public, archivists, introverts, extroverts, rockstars, and non-rockstars–can all find community and, sometimes, friendship.

Social media has enabled me to get the answer to a question like, “Hey, librarians. How do you staff the reference desk at a small college during break?” but also helped me through conversations like, “Hey, librarians, I feel awful today. Help.” (Maybe with different wording.)

We all have work friends and sometimes joke about a work-bestie or a work-spouse. But, having access, through social media, to the larger profession where you can talk to hundreds of librarians about what you’re doing, thinking about, stressing over, is invaluable. Your work people help you through the daily life that is work. Your online community help you through this profession.

For me, it was at times when I felt my work life (and really my whole life) was at its worst, maybe off-balance, slightly toxic, that I found my online community of librarians four years ago. That group has grown and changed over the years, as have I, going from the instruction coordinator world to a director position. But, I always had my online tribe and community to help me through the rough patches and to inspire me to be better. I’ve been told that now that I’m at this point in my career, I shouldn’t say, do, xyz, with my online community. But, I think that’s just not who I am and I am proud of that. I can’t imagine abandoning my online community now, right at the point when I have, possibly, the most to learn.

Before social media, my community of librarians consisted of those I had met at places like workshops and conferences. You’d stay in touch via e-mail. But, now, the community is so much larger (for better or for worse.) Now, because of social media, I have an extended network of community that includes professionals beyond my little siloed world of instruction librarians (as fabulous as they are).

Seeing so many people this week at ACRL in Portland was really just what I needed. I needed some validation of my own efforts at work (check), I needed to be inspired to start writing and research again (check), I needed hugs, high fives, and wine (check).

Librarians, I was blown away by how thoughtful you all are, what great work you are doing, and how willing we all are to engage in conversation and listen to each other. I have always felt lucky to be in a profession of truly lifelong learners, but something about this past week’s conference just felt different this time. I’m not sure I know what that was, but I was really just so impressed with so many people (and I am not easy to impress). I’m so glad that there’s a virtual conference site because there was so much I didn’t get to see/hear/do!

Maybe it was the donuts, but I really loved this conference and I really love you, my librarian community. It was so great to finally meet so many people I only knew from the interwebs and so great to see people I’ve known since before social media. Thank you, all for being so darn great. Special shout out to my roomies, my friends (old and new) who listened to me, and those who had noodles, wine, tacos, and everything else with me. 🙂

Hugs and high fives all around. Now only if I get over this jet lag and not be exhausted I am going to get right to putting in practice some of the things I learned!


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