The Librarian Crowd

My goodness – the library Twitterati are a scary bunch aren’t they? So keen! So dedicated! So much time on their hands! How do they manage it? I’m genuinely jealous.

I joined Twitter in February 2009 at the height of ‘Oooh, what’s Twitter? I’ll join, write a Tweet that says ‘How does this work then?’, start following Stephen Fry and then forget my password and subsequently claim that I don’t ‘Get’ Twitter and that it’s for geeks’ mania. Initially, I just followed a few C-List celebrities (and Stephen Fry) and a few of my friends.

Then I went to Umbrella that July and understood why Twitter was so important. Despite the confusion over the official hashtag (#cilipumbrella09 was stupidly long – I preferred #umb09) I had an epiphany. Suddenly I had a way of connecting with my professional peers that I was sadly lacking at work. I’m a solo librarian and run a remote library and information service so have to find other avenues for interaction. Twitter provides a partial solution to that.

However, the library lot on Twitter are incredibly intimidating – in the nicest possible way of course. Not only do they tweet (and blog) constantly, they are also absolutely up to speed with every single element of professional development and they write incredibly eloquently about it. They happily exchange witty banter with not only their peers but the great and the good of the library world. They also win awards and have not only a national, but an international professional presence.

It reminds me of being at school. In history and English I was the annoying know it all at the front of the class, constantly with my hand up screaming I KNOW! I KNOW! In maths and science lessons I was the one at the back writing out the lyrics to Pulp songs in my exercise book. Twitter puts me somewhere in the middle. I know stuff but I don’t know enough library people on Twitter to make a meaningful noise about it. I occasionally Tweet something vaguely professional, generally about my job (or the frustrations therein) but I simply can’t compete with people that read reports, read and comment on loads of blogs (in my mind there’s a massive difference between skimming a blog and reading it in enough depth to comment intelligently on it) and tweet from their beds morning and night.

I had a very reassuring chat with a fellow librarian and occasional Twitter user last week which reassured me that I wasn’t alone in feeling like the wallflower in the corner watching everyone else dance while I pick my nose. I’m fortunate enough to be watching the dedicated hardcore, the super-keen, the future CILIP Presidents and committee members fight it out for supremacy in 140 character instalments.

I may not be part of the Librarian Crowd but observing their mating habits will make me a more informed professional.

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