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Announcing ALA Connect

I saw this post on the LM_Net listserv and I wanted to share this resource with our readers.

If you know of any graduate MLIS programs that encourage their members to post to listserv's like LM_NET, could you let them know about ALA Connect http://connect.ala.org/? This is a very exciting new feature from ALA that provides a social community for librarians even if they are not ALA members.

If you aren't a member, you can register, read and post. You just won't see as much detail.

If you are a member, you just log on using your membership ID and your password. The program has already linked you to each of your committees and provides these with forums for work. You can decide if your committee work and posts are viewable to the public or just to the committee.

You can also create your own community. I heard another librarian jokingly say he hasn't seen a group for "Librarians who own cats" yet and I'm thinking this would be a fun group. I am very excited about the possibilities of this program. It's like a professional playground for people who like facebook and it's a convenient collaborative workplace.

One of the features I like is that you can search for a committee and see the membership list. If you were wondering who is actually on the Intellectual Freedom committee, you can easily find out. It makes much of ALA transparent. I know Jenny Levine has worked with some of the members here on LM_NET to design this and I hope you will check it out.

About ALA Connect...

ALA Connect replaces the existing Online Communities service that ALA currently offers as a virtual, collaborative, workspace online. A few member groups have been using Communities, but it wasn't widely adopted, so we've revamped it using new software called Drupal. We hope this will become a centralized space where official ALA groups can work together online. In addition, any member can create new communities (unofficial ALA groups) without any staff assistance, so the site will combine association work with communities of interest in one place.

Every active ALA group already has a space in Connect automatically, because we've pre-populated it with data from our membership database (iMIS), and we synchronize member data nightly, so we'll always know which committees you're on and which other official ALA groups you're part of.

Both ALA groups and communities use the same types of tools. By default, each one has blog posts, online documents (like wiki pages), a calendar, polls, a chat room, a discussion board, and images (logos, pictures, etc.). The group can use whichever of the tools it finds valuable.

Non-members will be able to register in Connect to create a free account, but they will only be able to view and add to public content. They won't be able to search for ALA members, view member data, or take advantage of any of the networking features.

In phase one (which we're in now), members can also identify other members as co-workers, frequent collaborators, classmates, and friends in order to create an online professional network that mirrors and extends their physical world on.

But it's really phase two where we start implementing ways for you to find and connect with other members around professional interests, issues, advocacy, your job, the work of the Association, meeting up with friends & colleagues when you attend ALA conferences, and the like. Sometimes we've referred to this as "ALA's social network," but it's probably more accurate to think of it as ALA's professional network, an online version of what has traditionally taken place in the physical world. This isn't going to be "ALA MySpace," although there will be hooks into and out of some social sites such as Flickr (for pictures), and Delicious. We know you don't need yet another place to go to update your status, but you might find it valuable to see what your colleagues are working on and where.

Because ALA knows a little bit about you (if you're part of a division, how long you've been a member, what committees you've served on, etc.), we plan to help you pre-populate your profile with all of the great work you've done for ALA in your professional career. That way, if you decide you want to display your profile to colleagues, potential employers, or even publicly, we'll have created a curriculam vitae of all of your contributions. We really appreciate members' efforts, and we want to help others appreciate you, too, by letting you show off the great work you do.

You can read more about the history (and future) of ALA Connect on the ITTS Update blog, particularly in the Roadmap that we posted there. In the near future we'll be expanding the online help and posting some tutorial videos, but if you have a specific question about the site or our goals for it, please feel free to post a question as a comment here, in the Discussion Forum for questions, or using our contact form. Don't forget to read through the user guidelines before you start posting content, but we hope to make your Connect experience as easy and practical as possible.

Posted by kkowatch at May 4, 2009 04:16 PM


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