Occasionally I make a confession to you. This month’s confession is that I am a social media lurker. This means that I use social media for research and professional development. I have several accounts that are not public. I do loosely maintain a blog/website (dr-daniellasmith.com). I am also on LinkedIn and Twitter (@dsmithlibrarian). Yes, I know I need to pick up my activity! Ashley Cooke recently wrote an excellent post on the topic.
Of course, school librarians already know that social media is good for professional development. For example, we have several Twitter chats, blogs, listservs, and FaceBook groups. AASL also has a Social Media Superstars award. Last year, I wanted to know if we were using it for personal branding… So, I conducted a study that many of you participated in. Thank you very much!
I am excited because I will be presenting some of the results of the study at the Annual SITE 2018 conference. I serve as the Information Literacy Education (Library & Information Science) SIG Co-Chair and have found the conference to be very helpful for gaining insights into how technology is used for education. In fact, the conference has been good for publishing my research. I personally think that we need to tell more people about what we do and why it is important. Research is part of marketing LIS as a viable profession.
In March, I presented about how African American youth use social media and social media’s relationship to their political activities and civic engagement. I thought about my paper and teen activism as I watched teens take on the politics of gun violence and gun control over the last few weeks. My paper became part of the 2017 SITE Research Highlights in Technology and Teacher Education book. My results and discussion of them included the following:
- The participants were very active online politically.
- Participants of the study admitted that they used social media to influence the political viewpoints of others. Yet, they were hesitant to reveal their information-seeking behaviors regarding their support for political parties and current events.
- An examination of the relationships between socio-economic variables and civic engagement suggests that there is something deeper beyond economic status, education, region of residence, or type of community that triggers civic engagement. More investigation is needed because the study was quantitative.
- Given the current political climate, there is an opportunity for school librarians to be instrumental in teaching information literacy skills that assist youth with using social media to be responsible producers and consumers of information. This is especially important because during the civil rights movement, civic organizations often filled this role.
- Current and pre-service school librarians may not be fully aware of how their interactions with youth can help build an interest in civic engagement or social justice. Discussions of civic engagement and social justice can be worthwhile additions for professional development and certification programs for school librarians.
In 2014, I did a presentation at the Texas Library Association Conference called, “A Brief Introduction to Social Media Trends and Conducting Social Media Research.“
Sometimes I give an updated version of the presentation. This presentation inspired me to conduct my current research.
In conclusion, we often know that something is important, but we need to prove it. I hope to publish more about how school librarians utilize social media in the near future. It is essential for us to master social media skills and meet our stakeholders on the social networking platforms they are connected to.
Please find my professional development suggestions for March 2018 below.
March 2018 Professional Development
Author: Daniella Smith
Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently an associate professor at the University of North Texas.