What I Learned In 2012 - Become A Library RockstarSubmitted by bpichman on Wed, 12/05/2012 - 19:30
Basically in 2012 I learned how to become a library rockstar. It was a difficult journey and I had to overcome a lot of obstacles and barriers but I'm happy to say I loved it all. Anyone can be a library rockstar, and these are a few things I think made a difference.
Find Something You Enjoy
I'm a geek/nerd. Through that, my passion in library land is bringing in technology and cool innovated ideas. So my whole passion revolves around technology and toys, and hell, if its an excuse to play I'm game! I know some library rockstars are knowledge experts on practically everything library related (whether it be e-content, publishing, collection development, online databases, resource sharing, library administration, outreach, etc) but I like to think they still have the one pride and joy that stands above the rest. In my speaking engagements, I speak with a lot of passion and inspiration because I sincerely care about libraries and I really do enjoy technology. I'm sure most of my facebook friends (who are generally non-librarians...I keep these worlds separate) may be getting a little tired of all my library talk, but its what I care about. If you wake up at night and have an idea about something, that is what you enjoy. If you see a problem and work your hardest to find a solution, that is something you have passion for. This will be the focus of your conversations, and you should seek out people who feel the same way and communicate with them.
Now, I want to preface this conversation by saying I am by no means a library rockstar in the library tech world yet, I still have much to learn and understand - but these are the things that helped me succeed thus far:
Networking is huge in any type of industry, and I would say libraries are the biggest networkers of all. In order to be a good networker, it pays to listen to others instead of always talking about yourself. A lot of people have great ideas and it pays off to listen to those ideas so you may build your own. Librarians are twitters, facebookers, pinners, google plusers, linkedin, but I don't think any librarian is a myspacester. So where to begin at networking? For those who have small budgets, going to conferences may be difficult...but there are a lot of groups that do shared cost of getting a place to stay at conferences (Check out PC Sweeney's post) However, there are a lot of free webinars available such as NCompass Live hosted by the Nebraska Libarary Commission or Carterett Series Webinar hosted by the Georgia Library Association. Another really cool event done every Wednesday at 8:00PM EST is #libchat, a twitter based conversation where different questions are asked and various librarians answer. This is hosted by Natalie Binder. Through these online based conversations, interact during the conferences or events, and start asking questions. If you ask some solid questions, people will recognize you and want to continue the conversation with you after the event. Make those connections, meet people. I urge you that if you can make it to a conference (like your state library association's conference) make sure you network. Librarians party, and they party hard. Search the program or twitter hashtag for meet ups and just show up. Librarians are friendly for the most part. Introduce yourself; discuss where you are from, if this is your first time, etc. I never had an issue of starting conversations, but I know some people are timid. The best thing you can do if you are nervous around new faces is tell them. People will react surprisingly well if you go, "Hi, my name is Brian, and I'm from Library A. This is my first conference I've been too and really don't know the ins and outs. Do you have any pointers?". Chances are that librarian was either A) in the same boat as you or B) used to be in the same boat. In either instance, they know how you feel. My first library conference was at the Internet Librarian back in 2011. The first two people I connected too (we were both looking for a meet up and this was our first official conference) became really great friends and of mine and I still talk to them today. Point is, you have to be willing to meet people and be honest. Thats the most important piece. Don't sell BS or make something up. Librarians are also gossipy so if you start with a bad rep you may keep that bad rep. Be smart, but network and have fun.
Start A Blog
I'm not the best blogger (trying to blog more often now) but get your ideas and thoughts out there. Copy and Paste other articles you see and put them on your blog. I don't typically follow blogs, I follow tweets of people who say "new blog post"...because the amount of blogs I wish I could read would exceed into the 50s and I wouldn't have time to sleep. There are so many awesome blogs out there on the web all talking libraries, technology, and more. But, as you blog, people who you networked with may see a post they feel is strong and important, and will share that will their friends and followers, and so forth.
Tweet and ReTweet
Get a twitter. But that isn't everything. Make sure you retweet other people's tweets - so it shows you are active and are responding to what people are saying. Reply to tweets, ask questions, make comments (don't be rude). This will help fuel the networking and blogging building blocks to becoming a library rockstar. By retweeting and responding, people will be naturally more inclined to A) follow you or B) retweet/build conversations with you. I know a lot of people are worried about the "oh nos, once its on the internet its there forever" or "it will be on the public domain". Isn't libraries about sharing of knowledge, discussion, and so forth? The internet is just another medium to accomplish these things.
Friends are important, they are there when you need them and can provide help and guidance. I am lucky enough to have made a decent amount of library friends that I will always support in everything they do - as they have done the same for me. Making friends in the library field are pretty important because they will introduce you to their friends who may want to work with you on a project such as website, publication, program, etc. My friends gave me the confidence and support to start the Evolve Project, and for this, I thank them.
Don't Be Shy and Do Be Modest
Its tough. Some people are legitimately scared of getting outside of their comfort bubble...but I emplore you to. You have to get out and go say hi to complete strangers in your profession. If you have an opinion on something, say it ... but at the same time be modest. Explain that this is your thoughts and don't try and undermine or make the other person look bad. I tend to come off a little harsh at times, so I had to learn to check myself (before I wreck myself).
Patience is a Virtue
Be patient and try not to rush into an idea. A good idea takes a lot of planning, so be sure to grow that idea a bit and talk it over with some of your connections that would have relative input in your idea.
So to recap. Find passion, network, tweet, blog, make friends, and be friendly. This will help you on the path of becoming a libraryrock star!