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Professional Online Presence: Here’s Mine, What’s Yours?

Earlier this week, my GODORT colleague Starr Hoffman posted Pondering Professional Online Presence over at her Geeky Artist Librarian blog. The first part of her blog entry ponders the means and goals of building a professional online presence and the second part covers the different tools she uses to create her online presence. On of my favorite parts of her blog post is why she chooses to link her Instagram account to her professional portfolio:

I don’t tend to use Instragram in a specifically “professional” manner, but I do link it on my professional online accounts like LinkedIn and About.me. Why? Because personality is important. I don’t want to work at an institution where I clock in and do my job and clock out. I want to work at a place that’s full of vibrant, interesting, exciting people who are passionate about what they do. Thus, shouldn’t I advertise to the world that I’m also that kind of person? That, yes, I’m a great researcher and an awesome librarian, but I also love urban architecture and great cups of coffee and travel–and that’s what my Instagram feed shows. It shows beauty and humor in everyday moments, and that’s important to me.

Starr’s post made me think that it would be great if librarians and others talked some about their professional online presence and explained why they use the tools they use.

It’s a little hard for me to talk about “my online professional presence.” Unlike Starr’s well organized Geeky Artist Librarian site with links to portfolios, I don’t think I have a single online space that captures everything I hope to convey to my professional community.

People in the government information community may most closely identify me with Free Government Information (FGI), a policy and education blog that I remain a contributor to. While it is a fabulous presence, my blog there shows that for the past two years I’ve mostly been providing updates on the State Agency Databases project I coordinate for ALA GODORT. While an interesting project in and of itself, the vast majority of great content on FGI is created by James R. Jacobs and James (Jim) A. Jacobs. I’m proud to be associated with them, but they are the ones doing the heavy lifting on FGI.

Turning to work that I’m solely responsible for, I’m very active on Facebook and Tumblr, somewhat active on LinkedIn and WordPress, less active these days on Flickr and the social features of OCLC WorldCat. I have a toe in Google+ but am not terribly active in it. In addition to these social media tools, I am active on several e-mail discussion lists.

The digiterati will have noticed a glaring omission on my list – Twitter. I had an account up until 12/31/2012 but then I cancelled it. It wasn’t Twitter. It was me. I wasn’t really using it except for rebroadcasting some of my blog entries here and elsewhere. It had turned into one more thing to check and I found I got a lot of professional content through Facebook, so I dropped it. Again, I dropped Twitter because it wasn’t working for me. It might work for you and if you haven[‘t tried it, you probably ought to as it.

Since my presence is splintered, here is a brief rundown of what I consider professional vs personal, or at least considered personal before reading Starr’s blog entry:


Daniel Cornwall, Librarian (Facebook Page) – Created as an outgrowth of my current writing project. Used mostly to promote resources from my upcoming self-published book  There are no trees in Barrow.  Articles about libraries and librarianship sometimes get shared here. Consider “liking” the page if you want to see government information resources can do for fiction writers.

There are no trees in Barrow (WordPress) – The book blog for my upcoming book and most humbling in terms of stats. Posts are almost exclusively about my tentative progress in revising my manuscript. Will be used to disseminate or sell the book when completed.

Daniel Cornwall (LinkedIn profile) – An up-to-date professional work history, plus shares of professional articles. If you know me professionally and I know who you are, let’s connect.

Daniel’s blog at FGI – As mentioned previously, heavy on project status updates. Tries to promote the volunteers who are the heart and soul of the State Agency Databases project.

alaskanlibrarian (WorldCat) – The world’s largest catalog also also users to create lists, write reviews etc. I need to write more reviews.


Facebook (personal page) – I originally started my Facebook page as an experiment in social media and friended most anyone who asked. But then much of my family and current and old friends came on. So I weeded out most of the purely professional contacts and asked them to connect on LinkedIn. I now won’t add anyone I haven’t met in person or online. BUT – I still don’t say anything on my “personal” Facebook page that I think could haunt me later. Criticizing coworkers or posting unclad photos is bad in ANY personally identifable online presence. Just don’t do it.

Photos by an Alaskan, etc (Tumblr) – If you’re on Tumblr, I’d be pleased to have you follow me. Focus is on photography, astronomy, space exploration and sci-fi/fantasy geekery. VERY LITTLE politics. Some library stuff mostly due to reblogging cool folks like the Lifeguard Librarian. I don’t think of myself as a “tumblrian“, but I’m glad they’er organizing.

Alaskan Librarian (Flickr) – Storehouse for my personal photography. A small amount of library and government documents material.

Hopelessly mixed

Alaskan Librarian – the blog you’re reading now. Aside from FGI, this is the place where I’m mostly likely to write about professional librarianship matters. I’ve also used it to feature resources I thought people ought to know about and use. But its origin was a place to park posts on politics that I felt were out of place on the LISNews journal I kept at the time. In the years since, there have been a lot of federal politics on this blog. I pointedly do not comment on state politics on this blog due to the nature of my work. But I’m willing to believe there may be some institutions, mostly in “red states” that would deem me unemployable for my political views, even though I’d never express them at work. But then I probably wouldn’t want to work anywhere that would blackball someone for their political views, so I’m hoping its all good.

I do link to most of my other activity from Alaskan Librarian.  So much for the what of my online presence.

Here’s why I use the tools that I use. Like Starr says, “Take it or leave it.” :)

E-mail discussion lists – These are great to keep up to date on your specific field. When I was a documents librarian I was very active on govdoc-l. After I had been on it for a few years I think I built up a good reputation by answering questions and taking part in respectful debates on the future of government information. Now that I oversee web, IT, technology education and distance learning support for my organization, I use learnrt and lita-l. On those lists I’m still in the learning stages, asking questions, getting the feel of the culture of the list and offering opinions only when I think I’m on solid ground or am speaking about what is going on in my library.

I’m also very active on my state library association e-mail discussion list. If you are a librarian, paraprofessional or library student and haven’t subscribed to your state association’s list, you really ought to. The participants are your nearest colleagues.

LinkedIn – I use LinkedIn primarily for hosting a full work history and to connect with people that I would not connect with on my personal Facebook account. Recently I’ve found it very helpful for finding useful articles in my field and industry news. I’m trying to do most of my “article sharing” there. I’ve also joined a few groups, but haven’t interacted a whole lot with them.

WordPress – I use it to host my quasi-personal blog (what you’re reading now) and my book blog described above. I really like its pages feature that lets you create content that won’t sink beneath the waves of your blog posts. In the past few months I’ve started using its “reader” feature to read wordpress blogs of interest and to easily reblog entries from others with commentary.

Facebook – I use it for my personal life because the bulk of friends and family are there. I use the “pages” feature for a professional page to easily share resources concerning my book project and to sometimes share professional articles that most of my Facebook friends would find eye-glazing.

Facebook also has some really good professional groups. I’ve become a big fan and sometime participant in the Technology Training and Libraries group. I also participate in two groups specifically for librarians in Alaska. If you work in a library in Alaska and want to know which ones, e-mail me at work.

Tumblr – I started my Tumblr partly because a friend was really enthusiastic about it, but mostly because the Flickr to Tumblr blogging tool was far superior than the Flickr to WordPress blogging tool. With the Flickr to Tumblr blogging tool my Flickr tags carried over to Tumblr and I could queue my photo posts. For a photo blog using Flickr as its source, a Tumblr seems like a no-brainer to me. My Tumblr expanded beyond photos because of the great Tumblr people I follow. I couldn’t help but start to reblog with commentary. I also push my personal Tumblr feed to my personal Facebook page. I also push my book blog posts to Tumblr because I know there are writers on Tumblr.

Flickr – I started Flickr years ago as a photo warehouse and that’s mostly where it remains. I do participate in a few groups and tried to start some government documents themed photo groups, but they sort of fizzled. I’ve got way more storage space on Flickr than on any of my blog sites, so it is very convenient for hosting.

WorldCat – I mostly use this to highlight reading I think might be of interest to others. I also think think that librarian created book reviews without a financial ax to grind are valuable, but I haven’t written enough of these.

That’s what I use and why. How about you?


One Response

  1. […] it was with interest that I read Daniel Cornwall‘s and Starr Hoffman‘s posts on “Professional Online Presences.” Daniel said […]

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