I “know” way more librarians on Twitter and social media than I do in real life. Are they “friends” or just friends? I was always a bit reluctant to follow people on Ravelry because you have to “friend” them and it seemed a bit presumptuous to become friends with someone I often hadn’t even exchanged a comment with.
Last year I travelled to the US to present at the Charleston Conference with my friend Michelle. Michelle wasn’t my friend then, we had only communicated through working on our paper and presentation, but I like to think we are friends now. We’ve been keeping in touch since on Facebook. Before we set off for Charleston I sent a call out to my “friends” on Twitter and Ravelry and Flickr to see if anyone I “knew” might be going to the conference too.
(I think I’m going to drop the scare quotes now and just talk about friends and knowing people…)
While Michelle and I were waiting, a little nervously, in the Charleston conference venue before going into our presentation Kate came up to say hello. I didn’t know Kate at all but she told us that she works with Janelle at a college in Pennsylvania. I know Janelle because she’s friends with Steven who I’ve become friends with after connecting on Ravelry (and later Flickr, Twitter and Instagram). Steven is a knitter and a librarian and a bicycle commuter and he has two dogs – we have a lot in common.
Our Charleston conference presentation was about ebooks in Australian academic libraries. Something we talked about was that Australian and New Zealand libraries are often seen as innovators and there seemed to be a connection between being innovative and being a bit isolated from the rest of the world.
We talked about the huge Twitter community of librarians, and how this might stem in part because of our isolation; we are a long way from the rest of the world and often a long way from each other but we can still feel close to people we might never meet.
It was lovely to be able to introduce Kate in the audience and tell people how we had connected from half way around the world.
ps: The photo is me at Meeting Street in Charleston, which seemed somehow appropriate.