Your PLN is a Series of Tubes: A How-To Guide for Beginners, by Sara Bryce

“Okay, all of your great posts on creating a PLN make me really want to start one!

…okay, got my Twitter all set up, and my Facebook account is ready to be part of my PLN, and I thought of a good name for my blog/Tumblr, and……..

what now?”

Do you see that and think this?

Okay, or, if you don’t speak Internet: “Sound familiar”?

If you’re unsure where to start in creating your PLN, or just need an extra boost, this post is for you.

Twitter: I consider myself really lucky. My PLN was basically started in a class I took through Florida State in 2009 on Web 2.0 tools. We were all required to sign up for Twitter, and try it out. My first couple tweets were things like “Can anyone see me? Am I alive?” and stuff like that. I followed everyone in my class and got to know them through links and sayings they would post.

Then Natalie Binder (OF #LIBCHAT FAME but a classmate at the time) created #libchat, and I made sure to at least follow that. Additionally, it gave me something to respond to, rather than jumping into conversations (which I do now, because social awkwardness is part of my “brand”(no really though don’t worry about your brand, because you’re a person)). I ended up in conversations with library students and young librarians that lasted long after the chat was done, and walked away each week with new followers and people to follow.

If this appeals to you, check out:

  • #libchat: questions regarding all areas of librarianship; Wednesdays 9 ET (I asked this week for suggestions for this post. Here’s what some of the responses were! (Sorry, not very good at Storify yet))
  • #readav: chatting about reader’s advisory; 1st and 3rd Thursday each month 8ET
  • #alscchat: issues in children’s librarianship; 2nd Thursday each month 9 ET

Participating is easy if you use TweetDeck; keep a column open that’s a search for the hashtag.

If you’re feeling particularly silly, #saturdaylibrarian is always a fun hashtag to follow. While not a moderated chat, librarians all over use this hashtag to commiserate over the ups and downs that is working on a Saturday. I use this to find particularly snarky librarians who I might easily befriend. True story, Anna was one of those people! (LUCKY HER, AMIRITE?)

Tumblr: I admit that I don’t have quite the handle on Tumblr as I do Twitter. This post was one of my most successful, and I think it was because it brought to mind a kind of odd humor that’s prominent there. Here’s a Buzzfeed post that’s full of people successfully using Tumblr. You’ll see what I mean.

To get started following and interacting with librarians, check out this awesome list from the person who spearheaded the librarian presence on Tumblr, Kate Tkacik. You can also search for the tag “tumblarians”.

When you post, tag your stuff with #tumblarians, #librarians, and then whatever else your post is about. That’ll help others find, reblog, favorite, and follow you.

Facebook: Facebook means different things for different people. I used to use it the way most people claim to: keep in touch with family/friends you don’t see very often. But lately, come on. That version of “use” just doesn’t fly anymore, at least with me. I mean, yeah, I’ll actually click on pages of my immediate family members to make sure I haven’t missed anything, because with Facebook’s screwy algorithm I WILL miss something personally important for Facebook’s favor on “share this photo so I can find my birth parents” posts. From political memes, to upworthy/viralnova link bait, to weird debate choices on neutral statuses from people you hardly know, to passive aggressive statuses where you’ve literally commented “I hardly know you and I know who you’re talking about,” Facebook has just gotten ridiculous.

Rather than make one of those huge “defiant” statuses about how you’re not going to use Facebook anymore–which is silly and you know it because it’s seriously the easiest place to go when you want to Hate Read the life out of something–join a librarian group. Because if there’s one thing I hope you’ve learned from this series, it’s that librarians are the Internet. We are Everywhere.

There’s ALA Think Tank, which has over 5000 members. It’s an interesting crowd and you’re welcome to try it. I’m part of it, but I make sure to direct any youth services questions to the following groups you’re welcome to join, since they tend to get lost at ALATT:

Blogs: Just start writing. Seriously. When I was starting out as a librarian, most of the blogs I read did some theory, some programs, but were mostly review blogs. Not being someone who felt she could actually review books, I decided to just read and take notes about it. Here’s my very first post. Point is, I really didn’t have a vision for it, and my blog actually ended up taking on a life of its own with my first Iron Fist management post, which continues to be actually relevant and useful to people. I decided to do more of that, and now I mostly post how-tos for programming and free downloads to help everyone out (Pinterest loved me before I even knew what it was) as well as help me keep a running record of what I’m doing and how it goes. The exceptions are my occasional Unsolicited Rant posts, which get the most views by far, because everyone likes to read a rant  Point is, you do you, write about what you’re thinking and what you’re doing, and invite others to do the same. Comment on other blogs that you enjoy.

To find blogs to follow, find a friend’s blog and just follow everyone they have on their blogroll, then follow your friend’s blogroll’s blogrolls (for those keeping score at home, that’s the second Xzibit meme reference this series). Or start following any blog featured in Cory’s Coolest Things posts. Or you can Google “youth services librarian blog.”

In conclusion, be honest: did you just scroll down to whichever social media tool interests you most in this moment and followed that advice? Good, because that’s what I was hoping.

Any other go-to tips for PLN beginners? Share in the comments!

Sara Bryce blogs at Bryce Don’t Play and tweets @PLSanders. She should be everyone’s go-to resource for questions about gifs and beer.

About Amy Koester

I'm a youth services librarian with a penchant for exciting ideas and engaging programs. It's a sure bet that if you talk to me about STEAM, whimsy, and trying new things, we'll be best friends forever.

Posted on January 25, 2014, in Guest Posts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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