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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Building influence in your school library

Social capital is a broad term which references the way that people engage in relationships, often they are created informally and often are seen as a little cliques within an organization. But a professional can capitalize on these informal relationships to get their job done efficiently by using their contacts. 

Doing some quick research, it sounds a bit like Nemawashi, the Japanese business strategy for quietly laying the ground work for a project. This involves, networking, seeking feedback and ensuring that when you put a proposal is put forward, that you will have a consensus about what it is you are trying to achieve. This process is easier if you are effective at building social capital within your own networks.

Online social capital can be defined as the number of friends and interactions you have online. These are measurable and able to be evaluated quite easily through some of the various tools online.
  • Wolfram Alpha you can get a data visualisation report on what your network of online friends looks like.
  • Klout will give you a rating as to how much influence you have online.
  • Kred is another online tool which measures your social influence. 

"an expanding body of research demonstrates the impact of early experience on young children’s brain development and its long-term implications for their education, health and well being
(McCain & Mustard, 19 99; Vim p ani, 2004)." [source]

How does this relate to Teacher Librarians?

To be an effective teacher librarian, you need to be able to build social capital quickly. With teachers, with students and with other library professionals. The effectiveness of your job role will depend on your ability to meet people's needs quickly. Joyce Valenza wrote a great article which talks about the importance of building effective social capital within libraries. As @kimtairi said at a recent ALIA "if you are an introvert, fake being an extrovert", build your networking skills and display effective front of house skills.

Often, the school Library is a natural place for students to gather and socialize. In addition to a communal gathering place, they can also be seen as offering outreach facilities for those students who need a safe place to go. [source] Often Teacher Librarians will build relationships with students who might be regarded as outcasts, students who are looking for a place to fit in.

Andrew Finegan in his article, "Re-thinking the school library space", talks about the wider reading program and how it encourages social capital within the school. The process of talking to students about what they like to read, how they find the books, discussing hypothetical situations builds social capital between the teacher librarian and their students. A reader-centered wider reading program focuses on the needs of the students rather than the needs of the library.

What do you do to build your social capital?

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