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Over the past three years, I thought I was on top of my professional development.  I attended conferences, wrote articles and book reviews, and stayed actively involved in many associations and discussion lists.  However, now that I am again entering the world of independent contracting, I’m remembering just how much effort it takes to develop and maintain a professional brand.  A lot of that effort is brainstorming and prioritizing – there are so many options out there these days for online interaction, not just in the library/museum community, but integrating information professionals of all varieties.  I can’t join them all, so I have to be strategic.  My experience with the nepotistic nature of hiring in New Mexico has convinced me of the importance of networking and name recognition.

Along with new association memberships this year (AAM and the New Mexico Association of Museums), one of the new networks I’ve joined is LinkedIn.  I’ve shied away from it in the past because it seemed more like a redundant social network than a professional community, but I was convinced to join when my dad was recruited for his current job based on his profile.  Judging by the quality of discussions and member involvement in my groups, it is in fact a valuable networking tool.   I especially appreciate the discussions led by Kim Dority on LIS Career Options.  Here’s my profile in case anyone wants to join my network.

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As I commute back and forth on the park-and-ride bus (50 minutes each direction) from my new house in Espanola to work in Santa Fe, I listen to a lot of National Public Radio.  Along with keeping me properly distressed over the U.S. involvement in foreign affairs and anxious about the free-falling economy, I also use it as my bellweather of popular trends and opinions.  I don’t get cable, so I can’t watch MTV.  The pulpy content of glossy grocery aisle magazines makes me queasy.  So these days my pop culture sensibility mostly comes via Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

I particularly enjoyed the story this week about how “websites let bibliophiles share books virtually“.  Even though LibraryThing has been around since 2005 and these biblio-social networking sites are proliferating like rabbits at a love-in, I’m glad to hear it’s not just me and my bookclub/librarian buddies using them as a nerdy alternative to MySpace. So who (besides Steve Jobs) says nobody reads anymore?