We promote anytime/anywhere access to information and resources in the most efficient way possible for our users, and I want to be part of whatever it takes to do the same for our own organization plus encourage this vital sense of community. I have other online community friends of 8+ years I have never met yet we’re closer than family. My dear mentor has given me everything with a fellowship for my education and has asked for nothing. The time for me to give back and have the most effective and lasting impact is now. Highly ambitious words for a 3-week-old, I know, but it’s a vision I have and can’t let die.
The medical library field has made a lot of progress with involvement on Twitter and other social media channels since then. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has had a social media directory since April 2010. Yeah!
Consider a sampling of my blog history directly related to librarians’ involvement in social media, particularly Twitter:
- A tweet for change: #PubMed (January 2009 – a call for sharing medical librarian-related input using that hashtag before spammers took over, wondering in April 2010 if it should again be a feedback tool, but now everyone uses it.)
- ACRL 2009 – Social Networking Literacy Competencies for Librarians (March 2009 – including Librarians who are social networking-literate must be able to apply their current skills and curiosity to emerging and evolving resources)
- Crashing the #hcsm party (November 2009, another shoutout to engaged medical librarians involved in non-medlib hashtag chat)
- Health Literacy and Twitter Synergy: #healthlit (October 2010, cover of the first organized health literacy chat and firehose experience that the CDC Health Out Loud blog noted. This is a great example of how helpful embedded librarianship can be for audiences on Twitter.)
One possibility may be encouraging involvement in hashtag chats. They are a valuable health information service and advocacy/outreach tool that medical librarians who are already active social media users should be participating in now. Anecdotally I think I see this happening more. Why limit participation to the already active? Because 38% of the MLA 2011 attendees who used the #mlanet11 hashtag on Twitter only did so once for the free drink coupon. You can’t fully engage as a one tweet wonder – it takes time, perseverance, and showing what you know and have to offer to build relationships, trust and connections in both online and other communities.
I was rather surprised by yesterday’s guest #hcsmca (Canadian twist on #hcsm above) post of Get out from behind the stacks: sharing health information with online communities. I see very engaged Canadian medical librarians doing quite well for themselves and their organizations on Twitter while encouraging their colleagues’ participation, particularly with @giustini‘s HLWiki Canada Social media for information professionals resources and I plan to attend @danhooker‘s Practicing Social Media in Health and Healthcare webcast Thursday June 15th at 1pm Pacific time.
How does the online medical library community connect with one another to learn? Ages ago I took over management of the Group Tweet account @medlibs when hashtags were much more cumbersome to find and follow than they are now. When there is a reciprocal following relationship (if you do not clearly indicate in your profile or by your tweets that you are a student or library-related type, I don’t follow back) a direct message sent to the account is then sent as a tweet to all followers. @medlibs is still a good way to share one message with over 1,300 interested parties and avoids spam but hashtags are a way for everyone to participate whether or not they are medical librarians. Is it time for the widespread promotion of #medlibs as an international community? Something else?