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Proving the value of peer networks

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Presentation given on 5th July 2010 at the CILIP CDG New Professionals Conference (#npc2010).

Proving the value of peer networks: plugging in to your peers

Proving the value of peer networks: plugging in to your peers

Bethan Ruddock


July 2010

Proving the value of peer

networks: plugging in to

your peers

Bethan Ruddock


July 2010

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What are peer networks, and why should I care?

contact groups consisting of fellow Library/Information professionals, workers, or others associated with the profession. These may include groups such as work colleagues; fellow members of an association; members of a social group such as a ning or facebook group; conference attendees; twitter followers; and other groups with whom you interact on a professional basis.


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If you work in isolation you repeat the mistakes that others have made.

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They provide the opportunity for:

benchmarking; discovering solutions to problems; finding out about tools others have used

first; making you realise

you are not alone

in your struggles; encouraging

professional engagement.


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Peer Networks


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Find peer networks on Twitter, email lists and face-to-face hugely helpful both for getting new opportunities and for mutual support/advice.

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Necessary for us all to share experience and build new ideas with our colleagues and peers

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I find peer networks very valuable for finding out about resources and opportunities I might otherwise have missed.

I've found Twitter useful for making links with others who I've not actually met, and getting advice on issues (mainly related to digital repositories).

networking can improve services we offer and helps us bench mark.

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Collective intelligence:

My peer network on twitter helps keep me up to

date. Peer network of old colleagues helps me brainstorm ideas, reflect on practice, and are a valuable information source.

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Peer networks have a vital role to play in the work I do, it helps us to set standards and keep up with current trends and developments in the profession.

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Current awareness:

They are also invaluable for

observing trends, debates, etc

quickly. How people in your

peer network engage with certain

debates or issues

can provide

a very good

temperature check

on how important a certain

issue is perceived to be

(linked data for example) and

what the key questions are.

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Current awareness:

Knowing your peers means that you are exposed to new ideas / different ideologies, which may well further new thinking related to your work

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Different points of view:

To be effective anyone in the library/information world needs to be able to network with peers. Not only can this help either directly or indirectly with your career but is stimulating

and thought provoking

to find out how others

tackle particular


Your peers are

also a valuable


source in


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Different points of view:

Invaluable for experience sharing, kiteflying, support - and I've made some lifelong friends

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Valuable for numerous reasons, including keeping up with what is happening in other workplaces, getting support when things are tough, finding quick answers by asking a contact who knows.

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Sharing professional experiences:

I believe they are vital, for personal development, for increasing one's knowledge of the profession as a whole, and in becoming involved in worthwhile projects.

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Personal growth:

Peer networking has helped a great deal in my role as a library assistant dealing with requests for classical music scores. Experienced staff left soon after I joined and a network called IAMLS has helped me develop some very good contacts whom I have called for advice. The network is also useful for tracking down obscure pieces of music.

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Community of experts:

I actively encourage younger colleagues to join social networking and peer networking groups. There is valuable information and experience to be gained, and we all need to "see beyond the desk" to stay on top of the job

and remain enthusiastic

and fresh. It is so easy to

become insular and

short sighted, even

within a team context,

let alone an

institutional one.

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Advice for new professionals:

As somebody who has been involved in the profession for less than a year I have found peer networks invaluable. Without peer networks I doubt I would have learnt so much about the profession in such a short space of time...

...I've probably learnt just as much if not more about the profession through networking as I have from my current job.

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New professional view:

I believe them to be very important for career advancement, making sure that people know who you are.

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New professional view:

the network of those working toward chartership is invaluable for sharing ideas, getting a bit of reassurance or encouragement.

I have already been able to communicate with other chartership candidates via twitter and the LIS mailing lists.

It has helped with my chartership.

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guest blog posts

conference papers

book contributions

joint conference session

invited to speak at two events

post on a journal

run a social media workshop

set up the Library Routes Project

Run a demo session

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As a new professional, I felt it was important to attend the BIALL conference to meet law librarians outside my library for the first time.

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Fresh point-of-view:

I use peer networks through social media sites, twitter, LinkedIn, Ning sites such as MashUps, and sites supporting conferences. This gives me access to a wide group of like minded librarians who when I meet them f2f I already know what we have in common.

Finding a network:

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am part of the Ravelibrarians group on a huge knitting social networking website called Ravelry. I know, sounds insane, but we actually have really interesting work-related discussions

on the fora.

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Finding a network:

I have set up a semi-formal peer network which meets 4 times a year. We seem to get a lot out of it.

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Finding a network:

Most of this networking is done in my spare time I think I would struggle to continue my current level of involvement in full-time employment at my current workplace due to employer concerns about the value of peer networks.

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Can be very time consuming so need to work out costs/benefits.

had to justify why going to a library-related conference was so important that I needed time off. Also, have been asked to take time off for CILIP Committee out of my personal time.

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Peer networks are highly valuable, but negotiating and communicating within them takes skill. We need to reflect on the identity/persona we present. On the other hand authenticity can be really valuable in forming relationships that don't feel loose or weak.

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I just dislike the idea of being forced to do it if I want a better job.


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Proving value:

I found the International Association of Music Libraries

UK Branch invaluable when, as a younger professional,

I felt isolated. I was a subject specialist for Music but

also for many other subjects. Music was my main interest

I had taken a specialist course in music librarianship at Leeds Polytechnic - but it had a negligible profile at my university

library, a situation I was determined to change. Thanks

to the energy, interest and support of IAML(UK) I can

say with complete assurance and no personal vanity that I accomplished this change successfully, to the benefit of

the library, the Music Department and the university.

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Positive change:



[email protected]

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