Mention social networks to someone and, for most people, their first thoughts will go to Facebook and Twitter, and how those sites are used for personal interaction. Unless you specifically mention LinkedIn, there isn’t much perceived professional value to social networking. At one time, I might have felt the same, but as I started to really embrace the idea of returning to college to get the credentials needed to be a school media specialist, I began to use social networks for professional development purposes.
I was made aware of a group called the Nerdy Book Club. This club is an online group of educators who strongly believes in the value of reading and developing that love in children. They have a blog, and they also have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Many individual members have their own blogs, and are avid Tweeters. Membership in this group has meant as much to me as a membership to the American Library Association or Indiana Library Federation — the professional development I have received has been priceless.
The Nerdy Book Club provides information on authors, recently released books for youth, using technology in school libraries, and educational practices that they have found to be successful in encouraging a love of reading in students. Many of the members have served on book award committees, such as Caldecott and Newbery, and they have usually earned awards and citations that target them as the best and brightest in the fields of reading education and school media specialists. By following these amazing individuals on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest, I have increased my knowledge of best practices in my intended library field.
I also use Facebook to provide reviews to my elementary school colleagues. Many times, teachers have used my reviews to select read-alouds for their classroom or to supplement another curriculum area, such as social studies. I once shared a video that featured Kate DiCamillo talking about never giving up on your writing, and a friend I went to high school with used it in her 4th-grade classroom in Georgia.
While I love to keep in touch with family and friends using social media, I equally value the professional networking and sharing that is possible.