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With apologies to E. M. Forster, “only connect” has been occupying a lot of brain space for me lately as I look back on two years of managing the LinkedIn LIS Career Options group. What I had launched as part of an SLA conference presentation, assuming it might grow to (perhaps?) 35 or 50 people, has become a forum for 3,685 members from over 50 countries engaging in over 450 discussion topics.

With pretty much zero experience in social media or community management, I totally panicked when the group started to grow – what could I possibly say that would be useful on an ongoing basis to so many people? Then I realized that I was part of a community that so generously shared information, I really didn’t need to say another word. The community members would support each other.

I assumed (see “zero experience in community management” above) that ALL LinkedIn groups were like this – everyone sharing information, jumping in with great new resources, offering helpful advice and wise counsel. Since then, after having been involved in numerous other LinkedIn groups, I have learned that, in fact, the groups that involve librarians and other information professionals seem to be uniquely focused on selflessly and generously sharing helpful information. It has made me realize how very grateful I am to be part of this profession.

In case you haven’t joined one of the multiple LIS-career-focused LinkedIn groups, let me encourage you to do so whether you’re a student or practitioner. The group I started is called LIS Career Options, but it’s only one of many options. Consider also these great LinkedIn groups (with the caveat that I’m sure I’ve missed some terrific groups that have sprung up recently, or will do so soon):

Careers in Federal Libraries. Started by Nancy Faget in 2011. Description: Discussing information professions in Federal government.

Future Ready Begins Today. Started by Cindy Romaine in 2009. Description: FUTURE READY is vital to being valuable, viable and visible [for LIS professionals].

INALJ. Founded by Naomi House in 2011. Description: A positive space online for information professionals, library staff and librarians looking for jobs to congregate and share tips and information. [INALJ stands for I Need a Library Job]

Job Skills for Future Library Careers. Started by Pam Casey in 2010. Description: This group is a continuation of the OLA session that [Pam] spoke at on “Do you have the job skills for tomorrow’s library careers”

Librarian Alternatives. Founded by Donna Scott in 2009. Description: In this market, libraries are feeling the “pinch” Many of us are temp workers and have been looking for the librarian career opportunity for up to 3 years since graduation.

Librarians in the Job Market. Started by Jason Mulack in 2010. Description: This is a networking group about potential available library positions.

Librarianship Job Search and Careers. Started by David M. Connolly in 2011. Description: Job seekers and employers in the library and information science and technology field can meet here to discuss current events, best practices, and industry trends related to library jobs, as well as network. No commercial messages or job postings, please. Brought to you by ALA JobLIST.

Each one of these groups is a bit different in focus and tone, but all are valuable to LIS job-seekers. I encourage you to check out the discussions and see how they can add insight to your career exploration.