Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Power of Connection

Today I am preparing to attend a meeting of School Librarians in HK. It is an association that was formed about 11 years ago by the School Librarians in English speaking schools to share experiences, ideas and offer support and friendship. People have come and gone over the years but the focus has remained and the group has grown stonger. We meet about 9 times in the year to discuss, learn and share. The meetings are time tabled at the AGM, and are held in different school libraries across HK. This gives different people the opportunity to host the meetings and to share what they have done in their physical space. For those attending, we get to 'pinch' some ideas and tweak them for our own requirements. The individuals in the group are willing to share information on suppliers, literary events, new and useful applications, author visits and any other relevant information. The group has a yahoo group, and a wiki where our knowledge, tips and sharing is stored for all to see and partake of.

From this group, a couple of people have moved out to other parts of Asia, and because they have gained so much from the sharing in our HK group, they have started their own groups in their new cities - which have included Beijing, Shanghai and Ho Chi Min City.

I know of another group like this in Singapore, and of course there are the much larger groups such as Australian School Library Association, and American Association of School Librarians plus many others in different countries and their state and local branches, and, let me not forget the International Association School Librarianship (IASL). There are a number of listerves I am a part of : - OZTL_NET, ECIS, and LM_NET where school librarians all over the world ask questions, share knowledge, jokes, and all link us to all the cool new toys and applications. With one email you can connect to over 20,000 people who may be able to answer your question, or give a different point of view, or just get you thinking. And then there are Nings and Twitter where school librarians are usually high posters on these.

It is an interesting phenomena that so many of us reach out to others for support, guidance, and friendship. I know of no other group of school professionals that are so well organised and so well connected. Why is this? Is it just because we are the sharing type, or we understand the power of being connected? Or does it just come down to the fact that most of us do our job in isolation and use these listerves and organisations as our staffroom venting and brainstorming? Do we feel that no one else will understand our job except other school librarians (which is a pretty good assumption). Or we just like to keep our finger on the pulse all the time? Are we just into constant self improvement or enjoy receiving lots of emails? This could be the subject of a research paper - anyone? Why are you connected? Please do let me know..

What I also want to know - do the other people in your school - including your Principal, know how well connected you are? I really think they would be impressed.

I am just glad that if I have a question that I really can't get my head around, I have many thousands of people to ask, and if only one answers my question and helps me on my way - then I am truly grateful for the connection we make as a body of like minded individuals!
Long Live Library Connections!!

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