Librarians are doing amazing things as interdisciplinary facilitators, knowledge creators, systems specialists, teachers, and researchers; however, this expertise is not always reflected online. Full online profiles are an effective way to embed yourself in the academic life of your institution and increase opportunities for collaboration with faculty and staff in many disciplines.
This article is a call to action to examine your online profile (or, library directors, those of your staff) and prioritize high visibility and presenting a full picture of your skills, knowledge and identity. LinkedIn is not enough. “Despite soaring usage of social media platforms and mobile apps, Webpages still receive great popularity among institutions and serve as an official channel to establish professional images and manage professional identities.”1
Levels of online presence
The first step is to look at how you are currently represented online. There are 3 levels.
Business card profile
If your profile only contains:
- Building/office number
- Professional title
- Faculty rank
Then you are being defined by a business card. This one-dimensional representation does not introduce you as a vital contributor to the academic environment and potential collaborator.
Possibly you have expanded on the business card to include:
- Employment history
You may also have introduced some aspects of your scholarly life, but in a limited fashion. This is an improvement over the business card, but have you really provided a comprehensive landscape of your academic and professional activities? Is your list as thorough as those of subject faculty?
Full scholarly profile
With a full scholarly profile, you will fill in the gaps by painting a complete picture of your interests and accomplishments. This will be a work in progress throughout your career, and the sooner you begin, the easier it will be to update in the future. Librarians at the earlier stages of their careers may not have yet accumulated grants or awards; however, you do have an opportunity to talk about your research interests, teaching and professional activities. Early career librarians may also be better versed in new technologies or platforms for digital scholarship.
Check your profile to ensure you have included any of the following that are applicable:
- Link to curriculum vitae (CV)
- Research interests
- Areas of expertise
- Professional, scholarly, and university service activities
- Grants and fellowships
- Honors and awards
- Teaching (include for-credit courses and information literacy and other presentations)
- Subject specialties
- Links to other profiles
Positioning and formatting
Where your CV appears and how it looks matter too. Does your institution have guidelines or typical practices for faculty? Follow them to the extent you can. Is there a university-wide faculty directory? Ask that librarians be included!
Other steps to take
Five additional actions you can take to strengthen your online academic profile include:
- Download a checklist of all the profile items mentioned above.
- Ensure your photo is high quality.
- Ask a respected colleague to review your profile and provide input.
- Enquire whether your profile can be included on departmental websites and in the Communications Office bank of experts as appropriate.
- Update your profile as you gain experience and your interests focus or change.
Your online profile can enhance your visibility and serve as a powerful self-promotion tool.2 Take advantage of this opportunity, which has little to no cost but may pay great dividends over time.
This article was inspired by “Are we represented as who we are? An assessment of library faculty online profiles within the City University of New York” by Junli Diao. This article in press in The Journal of Academic Librarianship is freely available for download. Though the article focuses on librarians with faculty status, we believe the same opportunity to highlight professional and scholarly achievements is available to academic librarians with or without faculty status. This article was written by Colleen DeLory, Director of Librarian Community, Elsevier, and edited by David Shumaker, retired LIS professor and LIS writer, speaker and consultant.
- Diao, J. (2020). “Are we represented as who we are? An assessment of library faculty online profiles within the City University of New York.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship.
- Myhill, J. (2011). "'I didn't know you did that’ facing the challenge by being visible. Impact: Journal of the Career Development Group, 14(2), 46–51.