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Posts Tagged ‘identity’

I am ready to be a librarian again

December 17, 2010 2 comments

Challenging. Time-consuming. The first semester of this academic year has been…well, just that. I can’t remember a more busy time in my career as a librarian since 1998/99. (That’s another “perfect storm” story altogether.) And most of what I have been entwined with recently comes from outside my typical sphere of duties. Our institution is currently involved in the re-accreditation process, and I have landed on several self-study committees either as a chair or a resource person. Anyone who has been through the re-accreditation process (this is my 2nd go-around) understands what that means.

Honestly, most of my work energies over the last 3-4 months have been devoted to something outside of the library, and I kinda miss my job. (I should also note that I lament being socially MIA on Twitter, etc. with my peeps.) Special activities like re-accreditation are beneficial and much-needed. Nevertheless, at times I feel like a school kid wandering the streets in the middle of a weekday looking over my shoulder for a truant officer. (Am I abandoning my post?) Other times, I feel like Cinderella must have felt to be left scrubbing the floors while her sisters went out to the big event. (Am I missing the fun?)

I’m ready to be a librarian again…and in more ways than one. I’m ready to get back to what I know and love best. At the same time, I have been reflecting on just what it is that I know and love best.

Perhaps one of the benefits of this time away from my normal duties has been the ability to step out of the mix somewhat and reflect. I have been doing some soul-searching, or–more precisely–some mission-searching. Actually, I’ve been reflecting on “mission,” “purpose,” and the like for about a year now. Maybe this semester was the match to throw on the charcoals that I have been soaking in lighter fluid. When I heard from some of the library staff that they had a good conversation this week about the library’s purpose and identity, I knew that I was onto something.

So here’s what we as a library staff are going to do. In January we are going to hold an informal library staff forum to talk about our library and its role in our institution and higher education in general. We will reflect on:

  • Who we (the library) are.
  • What we do.
  • How we do it.

A family meeting, so to speak. Who knows? We may even invite the academic dean and the president. (Open communication is golden.) The plan is simple: Talk, listen, and respond and then see what happens.

New year resolution. Spring cleaning. A first step. Utter nonsense. Call it what you will. We’re going to talk and listen, and hopefully we’ll come out on the other end all the better for having done so.

Time to go. I’ve got more re-accreditation work to do before breaking for the holidays.

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What’s in a Name?

May 4, 2010 1 comment

Shakespeare’s Juliet asked it, and I pose the same question.

What value do we place in our name? What meaning does it convey? How does it represent us? Juliet saw it as an artificial convention. I have some Cherokee blood, so I tend to believe there is a bond between the person and the name. However you might respond to such questions, I think we can all agree that they are questions worth asking.

Actually, what is really on my mind is a variation of the famous question that more pointedly asks, What’s in a social name?

By “social name” I am referring to those aliases that we create for our social networking profiles. We have our given names, but beyond that we sport our usernames, handles, and avatar names across multiple social networks. In some cases those social names are identical to our given names, and there is an identifiable correlation between the two. Facebook and LinkedIn come to mind (though there may possibly be fewer examples with Facebook in the near future). In many other instances, however, those social names do not match up with our given names. Sometimes they even are so unrelated that any attempt to try and match a real name with the corresponding social name could only be described as the stuff of Vegas. Drop a coin and pull the lever. And this can be further compounded when an individual’s social handles are not identical across his or her social network profiles. The Twitter handle may be one thing; the Foursquare username something else; and the SecondLife and World of Warcraft avatar names altogether different. Granted, many people do use the same social name on multiple social networks in an effort to brand themselves, but even then, differences can and do exist between the given name and the social name.

I am not trying to make an argument that it is bad to have usernames on social networking sites that are different from an individual’s given name. I am simply pointing to reality. Generally speaking, we have given names, and we have social names.

Some of my connections with others are entirely (or at least primarily) through Twitter, so I most naturally recognize those individuals under their Twitter name. And even in the cases where those Twitter connections have grown to include encounters in other venues (i.e. reading their blogs, face-to-face meetings at conferences), I still identify strongly with their Twitter presence. That Twitter handle is just as significant as their first name. It seems that I am not alone. I am noticing conference attendees agreeing to “pen in” their Twitter handles on their conference badges. This year’s Connecticut Library Association Conference went a step further by incorporating a space for Twitter handles into the design of their conference badges.

We continue to build, shape, absorb, and project our various social network identities–personal and professional–under the labels of our social names. As we do so, will we reach a point where it will be insufficient or difficult to fully associate with others under our given names only? Will our social usernames increasingly become more than something we type into a required field to create a profile? I don’t know. Just a thought that has been on my mind.

At the very least, I believe this topic is worth including among discussion of “social awareness” in digital literacy instruction efforts. The role of our social networking names will likely increase as the identities behind them continue to grow and evolve.

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Categories: Social Networking Tags: ,