Facebook: how does it fit in your professional life?

As a hospital librarian, I work in an environment where Facebook and other social media tools are blocked by an Internet filter. I have a personal account, but I’ve never considered it as an outreach tool, though my parent organization (a health system) has a corporate Facebook presence.

So I found Hilary Davis’ article reflecting on the pros and cons of a professional Facebook presence very thought-provoking.  Reconsidering Facebook (at In the Library with a Lead Pipe) discusses the issues of the personal-professional separation, privacy and data ownership concerns, the need to offer access and services where the patrons are, and the increasing business and corporate use of Facebook to reach out to customers.

Facebook is becoming “mainstream,”  a trend we’ll need to keep in view.


Fun facts

Just for fun, I was checking out our stats in the new 2009 Statistical Abstract.  Table 596 (Employed persons by occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic origin 2007 data) shows that librarians are now 215,000 strong  – up a bit from the 1998 figure of 208,000. We remain just over 83% female and are ever-so-slightly more racially diverse – 88% compared to 89% white.

I’ll have to check back in a few years, to see whether the retirement of us “boomers” changes the map dramatically.

Online CE: Social Media

MLA’s Task Force on Social Networking Software is offering another free online series:  Dig Deeper with Social Media.  Starting Jan. 19, the series will offer a short week-long course each month on the topics of media sharing, web collaboration tools, wikis and blogs.  Find the courses and details such as technical requirements at  Dig Deeper with Social Media.  CE credit is available to MLA members only, according to the Task Force blog.

Library roles in disaster (or everyday service)

The Emerging Technologies Librarian’s recent post, Assumptions about Library’s Role in Disasters, raises some interesting points about disaster planning, and library roles in general, as it compares public vs. library administrators’ assumptions about what materials public and academic libraries hold/retain, and in what format that material should be available.

The contrast between the patrons’ assumption that they need not keep their own copies of important resources because the library will always have them, and the library administrators’ assumption that patrons are responsible for retaining personal copies of resources of vital importance to them, reminds me of a discussion I had with a fellow hospital librarian today.  She had just advised a medical resident that the library does not provide paper copies of Dubin, or the Washington Manual, or the Lange series titles, because the first person who “checked out” the title didn’t bring it back.  The library budget doesn’t stretch to buying multiple replacement copies of these relatively inexpensive titles every year; the resident would need to buy his own copy.   “But they told me you would have it!”, the resident protested.  Whoever “they” were, their assumptions weren’t based on library realities.

Speaking of disaster planning, I look forward to the upcoming MLA Webcast, Survival Tips and Stories: Expanding the Library’s Services in Times of Disaster. As a hospital librarian, my informal “disaster plan” is to assure that paper copies of important reference works are available in paper, in the event of a blackout or network outage. Yet as I read the disaster stories posted at the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness and Response Toolkit (http://nnlm.gov/ep/lessons-learnedstories-told/ ) I see that medical libraries and librarians have been called on to fill many roles beyond providing the latest copy of Harrison’s when disaster strikes their communities. It’s time to re-examine my own assumptions.


I had lunch with a group of medical librarians & library staff last month, and we started comparing our most memorable adventures.  I took my son skydiving for his 23rd birthday; Mary has a medal for ziplining in Alaska; Etta’s a world traveler, telling us about visiting tunnels in the Holy Land excavated by soldiers in King David’s time; Judy recently went swimming with the sharks in Galapagos; Jennifer has climbed the Great Pyramid in Egypt; Jodi’s a spelunker. 

Be all that you can be, in the library…

Looking forward to our next adventure: MLA in Hawaii, May 15-20, 2009.  Start planning now; the MLA09 Wiki has a page of suggestions for saving money to afford the trip, and a draft of the preliminary program has been posted at http://www.mlanet.org/am/am2009/index.html?focus_20080807.   They’re planning to start events at 6:30 am, since most of us will be in a new time zone, and conference sessions will end in mid-afternoon so we’ll have lots of daylight left for touristy stuff.  Anyone for a volcano tour?