Network, networking, social networking

As week 2 of my professional placement draws to an end I’m thinking more about this network thing.  Both now, and during my study visit I’m noticing more and more the difference between “networked” librarians and “non-networked” to put it a little crudely.  Of course, even the “non-networked” librarians are networked, in the “no (wo)man is an island” sense of the word, but its a question of where you are concentrating your efforts.  And this, to put a blunt point on it, can be a Machiavellian thing.  Which is to say, I’m not necessarily saying that more (professional) networking is good and less is bad.

I’m just going to report on the dimensions that I observe, in no particular order, and it’s not a value judgement, and I’m now wondering what kind of research has been done on this in the library sphere – I’m pretty sure there is plenty in management /corporate literature generally.

*  life of the party
well networked with peers in other departments, people stop by for a chat, get’s a lot of positive recommendations as being “fun”  (note – this does not say anything about professional capability, or ability to do the job well, just that they’re fun to be around)

*  in with the big boys
gets invited to and participates on the same level at meetings and social events with the decision makers of the organisation. Considered to be a peer in thought leadership. Paid on par with peers. May or may not be a great librarian for the “little people”

* hiding behind the desk / door
could be a brilliant librarian, could have wonderful thoughts, and the source of marvellous conversations, brilliant resource suggestions – BUT, they’re waiting for you (user) to come and extract them – unfortunately I’ve seen quite a few of these.  They’re there.  and they’re there for you, but you need to find them and engage them.  You want to send them on some sort of assertiveness training or just something that will boost their confidence.  I’m wondering how someone gets to this point – is it being a naturally shy and retiring type of person (the Susan Cain introvert), or is it the lack of opportunity to experiment safely with being “out there”, or is it having tried and then been knocked down (deliberately or incidentally) by someone else with more power or a lack of feeling for where they’re coming from?
I have a suspicion that these people are networked – in their own world and with other similar types.  Now this is a great resource in an organisation, but it’s a little bit like the functionality of so much software.  Its there and its great, but should the user have to wade through forums and how to guides, or should there be some type of annoying paperclip popping up and saying “I noticed you’re trying to … how about … (no), or is there some other way?

* sweet spot but one step short
This is the souped up version of the hiding librarian.  They don’t hide, they’re friendly, they’re on the floor, they’re helping, they’re talking, perhaps not the life and soul of the party, but they’re liked and respected by users and their peers.  They’re innovative, they’re taking initiative, they’re approachable. But, they’re not “in with the boys”.   They’re not being paid what they’re worth, not getting the resources they deserve and not being listened to, really, where and when it counts.  While it may seem a little more obvious how to get from “behind the desk” to “sweet spot” it’s a little harder to work out how to get from “sweet spot” to “in with the boys”.  Again, I’m not saying that one should be “in with the boys” I’m pretty sure library services in an organisation (and the organisation as a whole) would benefit from at least one of the librarians being “in with the boys”.  And is that within the control of the person or the organisation?

* looks good on-line / on paper
All the right qualifications, all the right names, great resume, stunning website, active on social media, great blog, but then falls flat in reality. As librarians, we’ve probably seen our fair share of this in authors – we were talking about just one such person the other day.  Brilliant person, everyone loves reading him, ROTFL type of books, but in the flesh?

* 20 years
Ok, that’s an arbitrary number, but you know what I mean. “I’ve been doing this 20 years and … / but I’ve been doing this for 20 years” I’m wondering if it’s a co-incidence that most library jobs advertised ask for 10 years of experience. I see a lot of that around the whole use of social media, the internet, eBooks, display, design and assumptions about people, learners, users.

*I’m just …
a temp, a student, an admin assistant, whatever.  This is a bit frustrating, because I’d like to think that everyone in a library takes ownership over that space.  Not in the alpha monkey sense of all vying for top dog, (sorry mixed metaphors flying fast and thick), but in the sense of “yes I can help you” or “yes I do want to think about how best to … shelve / control / order / administer etc.

I’ve probably missed out on a few types and I’m going to hit google now*.  Perhaps every library organisation needs a balance of these types in order to function well.  But I do see quite a bit of frustration as I move through these learning experiences.  And I sense that in most cases there’s just a little something that could be added or amplified to making things a better experience for everyone.  Is it about self-knowledge or organisation knowledge or fit?  And I’m wondering what type I would be when I’d be working in a library.


I did find one interesting article, will have a dig around management literature to see if there’s more

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