Only Connect

I attended the SLJ Think Tank in NYC last week. It was a transformative day for me - not just because of the outstanding and thought-provoking speakers but also for the chance to be with colleagues I have met in a whole new way.

In the past, if I wanted to bounce ideas off people or get my collegial-jolt, attendance at state and national conferences was the main way I interacted to get my youth librarian-idea fix. The networks of colleagues who mentored me, friended me and supported me (and back at all of them with the same from me) especially at ALA was grounded in real time and in real places. The gabbing, blue-skying, laughing, eating and drinking that brought us together helped me become the children's librarian I am.

But something changed in the last year that broadened and opened my horizons so far I feel that I can almost see to the end of the universe. Although I've been communicating in new ways through this blog and Facebook, my time on Twitter and in Facebook groups brought a new immediacy and connectivity to my work. For those who find this journey of discovery ho-hum, bear with me.

I was a late Twitter adapter, partly because, as a yakker of legendary repute, how could I harness that into 140 characters? But once I jumped in, I realized that the immediacy of the conversations and links led me to deep connections with and respect for people I had never met IRL. Ideas hatched, work flowed, tempers flared, sympathy was extended and support and wicked humor was always there.

Professional Facebook and Google groups (ALA Think Tank, Code Named Awesome, Flannel Friday), all discovered through Twitter, added to the fun and gestalt. The overlap among them all in terms of interacting with colleagues across many social media platforms only increased the connectivity.

So when I came to New York (you knew I'd get back here, right?), I got a chance to meet, IRL, so many people who are friends in social media: @amyeileenk, @mmlibrarian; @libraryvoice, @MissReneeDomain @melissaZD, @sophiebiblio. I realized that despite the fact we were meeting for the first time, I felt we had been friends forever.

And I felt free - and connected - in a way that is deeper than my professional association connections - perhaps because there are no expectations of work for me when I am involved with social media friends and colleagues (well, unless we hatch something!). These connections and chats sustain me and spark my imagination. It is really connecting with people's minds directly and I learn at the feet of these colleagues (take note Twitter and FB lurkers: engage and show your stuff!!).

So a big shout-out to all my creative partners on social media whether I've met you IRL or not. Our connection is what fuels me!


  1. I know exactly what you mean! I meet people online and when we meet in person it's like we've been friends forever and that connection continues in real life. It does make me a bit sad that I don't get to hang out with these people all the time and only at conferences, but it makes those conferences all that much sweeter and more fun. And I love that we can continue that connection throughout the year.

  2. I'm sort of nervous for ALA Chicago for this very reason--I know so many amazing people that I haven't met yet--how will I possibly have time to hang out with everyone?! I'm so thankful every day for my amazing network.

    1. I totally know what you mean...how can we find that time. I wonder if we should plan to find each other after, like Caldecott Newbery banquet. Skip the receiving lines and go for the drinks! I'm gonna be listening to speeches for free and now that I'm not on ALSC board I am free of obligations. Might be fun but requires being up at night!!!

  3. Kary Henry @MissKaryReadsApril 24, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Marge, I am indeed one of those (semi-)Twitter lurkers...mostly because I don't yet know exactly what I'm doing! But the more I put out there, the more confident I feel, and I just had to say that I take such strength and energy from all of you!