Column: Making a Name

Hi all – I wanted to share a column from Library Journal last year. It’s about LIS students putting themselves out there. It was also inspired by Hyperlinked Library students over the years!

Building some type of professional presence on social media is a good step for any LIS student. LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sites offer a place for a soon-to-be-librarian to begin sharing and connecting. It also builds valuable networking skills that may come in handy when new grads are in jobs that require outreach into communities of users. Of course, one doesn’t have to put everything out there, but a strong professional presence in certain strategic networks related to areas of interest can be valuable.

If you are interested, read the whole column here. 

Image: West Virginia University librarians, 1900s

24 thoughts on “Column: Making a Name

    1. Sarah Jo Zaharako

      Hi Crystal,
      I’ve had a variety of personal blogs over the years, mostly because I like to document and I find clarity and catharsis in writing. Coming up with one theme can be limiting so start by making a blog about you. When my twins were born and my life felt chaotic, I had a little blog called Mama Dirt. I mostly just wrote about my parenting foibles and the balancing act of working and parenting. And I shared funny little things I found. I also kept a blog when I ran a private music studio. I even had some guest teachers blog on that site. Now I have a little Weebly site that I use to sort of explain myself, both to all those folks who are wondering why I’m not performing so much anymore, as well as just to make sense of the between-ness of my career right now. The first page of the site is a blog page, which I can update. Not many people ever visit these sites, which frees me of the obligation to brand a concept or have a mission. Let me know if you make one – I enjoyed your contributions to the class and would love to keep up.

      1. Crystal V.

        Thanks for the encouragement, @zaharako! I used to blog non-stop before Web 2.0 was a “thing” and it became important to focus on branding and what not. So, your advice definitely resonates with me. I actually have a blog at – I lost blogged there a year ago. Ugh! The site has become a clearinghouse for various ischool WordPress projects. :-p I really need to do something!

        But I have added your page to my feedly, so maybe I’ll get some inspiration.

  1. Sarah Jo Zaharako

    I really appreciate this column and other sage advice at this point. I think many of us are feeling very vulnerable as we embark on second careers. I also know many of us feel so overwhelmed with the work/families/grad school combo that networking, attending conferences, or volunteering for ALA committees seems impossible. For those of us who are a bit older, we were taught that you don’t put yourself out there until you’re polished and perfect. But I don’t think that’s totally true today. Blogging and other social media platforms invite a bit less polish and more stream of thought and conversation. Volunteering can be both fun and rewarding. It still feels daunting somehow – like you have to brand yourself. My plan is to follow my heart, try to stay open to alternative paths, and trust that I have something unique to bring to the table. I think that’s true of every librarian and librarian-to-be I know.

      1. Sarah Jo Zaharako

        I just decided to scrap about 30 versions of my old resume and start fresh. Knowing the final drafts will be tailored to specific libraries, I’m trying to write a general list of strengths and skills based on my entire life experience. It’s rather abstract and is more of a giant thought map right now but I’m hoping that when it comes time to tailor it, I’ll have some fearless data to draw from.

    1. Christy Brightwell

      @zaharako Sarah, I understand your point about feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable. I conferences are god places to find mentors and get experience. When I first started considering going to work after being out of the workforce for a while, I knew I wanted to work with information but I had no experience. Long story made short, I went to a Texas Library Association conference. I just put myself out there, talked to people, and made some new friends that turned out to be more than friends. When you are ready, go to a business meeting or round table, they want people to participate and you gain so much from the experience including experience. I also got a great internship opportunity. All things that are good for a resume. I am like you keeping my options open. I think you are right, we all have unique abilities to offer the profession, wherever we work.

      1. Sarah Jo Zaharako

        @cbrightwell I was thinking of joining an ALA committee or roundtable. Do you have any advice of a good place to start? I’m a member of ALSC, too. I’m pretty active in our little local library associations but I’d like to broaden my network, especially because my family is considering moving cross country.

        1. Christy Brightwell

          @zaharako I agree with Professor Stephens, you could start with the new members round table. They could have good pointers too. I would say focus on something you are passionate about too, like youth services or LGBTQ. There are lots of ways to get involved. Poster sessions or putting together a session with speakers. Go to the business meeting of whatever group or round table you choose, that is where you will learn the most. I really should put together a post for this to share with the class. Just be yourself, you are smart, talented, and this will show. Where are you moving?

          1. Sarah Jo Zaharako

            Thanks Christy,
            I would love to see a post about this! The ALA site and all the sub-group sites are a little overwhelming so your advice is very appreciated. I would love to attend the ALA conference in June, too. I’ve never been to one and it’s about 6 months before my graduation date so it would probably be a great time to get out there and meet a lot of people. btw, we are thinking of moving to Chicago to be near family. Speaking of which, that’s ALA headquarters!

  2. Barbara B.

    I have greatly enjoyed blogging in this class, as “writing as exploration” suited my learning style quite a bit. Unfortunately, my employer is fairly strict about what I am allowed to publish on the internet, so I need to maintain a certain anonymity for this class. I do hope to publish more professionally in the future instead of writing in the name of my institution or anonymously for class, though it would require some care to not be a conflict of interests.

    I’ve heard from a co-worker that becoming more involved in ALA can be quite difficult if you don’t “know someone”. If anyone has any tips on how to be more involved, that would be wonderful. I hope to go to more conferences soon.

    1. Michael Stephens Post author

      @barbarab Thanks for your thoughts. No worries about anonymity! I totally understand.

      ALA is a GIANT organization. If you find an area of interest, I would say focus on that one. There is a round table for new members and sections for all the various interests.

      Your state may have a thriving library association too. I got my start doing state level talks back in the, ahem, 90s!

  3. Jeff V

    @michael Thanks for the column. I’ve had a lot of fun with the blogging component of this course (and in Information Communities) so this is definitely something I’m going to consider spending more time with in the future.

    I’ve always been pretty shy about sharing my thoughts online (and in general, unfortunately), but I’m learning that the more you do it, the less unnerving it becomes.

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