by Mary-Michelle Moore, Head Editor, INALJ California
Creating or recreating your library network after a move
Whether you’re just starting out in the library community or trying to make new connections after a recent move – trying to create a network from scratch can seem overwhelming. Happily, librarians are a sharing group so there is always someone you can ask for assistance – and if they don’t have the answer they will refer you to someone who will. Here are five ideas to get you started below – but let me know in the comments what your network building tips are!
1. Start a wide search then drill down
While the prospect of starting with a national group (eg. SLA or ALA) may seem counter-intuitive, the greatest strength of these organizations is their size. Since they are large, they have many sub-chapters based entirely on geographic proximity. Start by looking at article postings, calls for participation and other official announcements put out to members of the community to see what’s happening in your neck of the woods. You may be able to find groups of like-minded librarians nearby by subscribing to list-servs and making a point to reply or comment on emails from people who are in your vicinity.
Your next stop should be your state library association’s webpage – the same principle of find the widest group and drill down will work here as well. Don’t forget – since there are many librarians who are active in the large organizations, your local library association may have different names and faces in addition to the people you see active on the national stage. By checking both the state and national organizations for connections you can find out if one group is more active in your area than the other. Your state’s library association may be active around the capital or a major city, but you may have a geographic-based subgroup of a national organization in your own back yard.
2. Decide what you are looking for
Instead of starting with where you are located why not start looking for the kinds of things you want to do? Are you interested in teaching, try finding a local branch of the American Association of School Librarians? Museums, try the American Alliance of Museums? Want to work in a law library –try the American Association of Law Libraries? If a type of organization has a librarian working in it there’s probably an association or alliance that you can reach out to for contact. Make a comment on a post or attend a networking event to find a way to connect with people in your field.
3. Find connection online
Are you already following someone on Twitter? Are you a Tumblarian or love Pinterest? Reach out to someone who you already share a connection with. If you’re looking to network where you’re already active, it’s easy to get the conversation started and you can ask for advice. If you share a group on LinkedIn and you connect with someone who is working where you want to work, they may have some wonderful insights on who to talk to for that next internship or know about a positions that’s been approved but not yet been posted.
Start chatting with ALA ThinkTank on Facebook or reach out to groups on LinkedIn – everyone using social media is trying to connect with someone. Just be aware that not everyone uses the same social sites for job hunting – be respectful of people who want to keep Facebook private but will connect via Twitter or who will accept messages on LinkedIn but prefer you not email.
4. Go back to school
Does your alumni association have a local branch – you may want to do some digging not only on the alumni page but see if someone has created something informal? Do you live near a university that offers a MLIS program? While their websites may hold information focused on students, it has the added benefit of letting you know which organizations are active in the area.
5. Visit the library
When in doubt, visit the reference desk of the library where you want to work. You can drop by the reference desk or send an email if they offer that service and introduce yourself as a new librarian in the area. Ask what organizations that librarian belongs to, or if the can refer you to someone who may share a specialty or interest in line with your career goals. This is a wonderful option if you’re having trouble interpreting the different association acronyms – the librarian may have insight to a library association you would otherwise have missed!