By Kathy Mansfield
Heidi Neltner, a former school librarian in the Fort Thomas Independent school district, had been using Twitter to connect with colleagues around the world for many years. Then in 2013, she decided to introduce Kentucky school librarians to this professional networking venue by creating #KyLChat (Kentucky Librarians Chat).
In the beginning, Neltner – along with Eminence Independent Librarian James Allen, Henry Clay High School Librarian Amanda Hurley (Fayette County), Highlands Middle School Librarian Stephanie Griffith (Ft. Thomas), and Daviess County High School Librarian Carrie Wilkerson – teamed up to offer trainings on Twitter, moderate chats and help to grow the professional learning network.
The first #KyLChat launched Sept. 23, 2013. Co-moderators have joined the #KyLChat team over the years to facilitate the twice monthly discussion about topics of interest to school librarians, everything from school/public library partnerships and project-based learning to new technology tools and the latest books for K-12 students.
“I love that Twitter has become a place for librarians across Kentucky, to break down walls and join together,” Neltner said. “Through this medium we are able to lift each other up and find inspiration to make school libraries in Kentucky the heart of the 21st century school.
“Librarians who participate in our chats are on the front lines of a school library revolution and are doing and sharing truly remarkable things. When I see the work these librarians are doing with students, it motivates me to try harder and be better for the students with whom I work.”
Allen said the Twitter chat can help combat the isolation that librarians can feel even in the most supportive of schools.
“The listserv is great and school library conferences are helpful, but I love how #KyLChat just feels like a group of your friends sitting in your living room, sharing, helping and supporting what you do every day,” he said. “In the first few months I was honestly worried that we would not have enough interest to keep the chat going, but thankfully those fears were unfounded. Not only do we have great Kentucky librarians sharing their knowledge, but we often have visitors from across the country join in our chats, enriching our conversations with new and varied perspectives.”
Henry Clay’s Hurley, who is serving as the 2017-18 president of the Kentucky Association of School Librarians, participates in every chat and has moderated several.
“Designing conversations around school library-specific issues has created an online professional learning community where librarians can regularly meet and network, brainstorm programming and teaching ideas, determine ways to assess learning in our unique positions, swap success stories and inspire one another to try new things,” Hurley said. “It is also a safe environment to ask questions and solicit feedback from others. There’s been no other transformational professional development for me like that of #KyLChat.”
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