My Online PLN

To be perpetually learning is to be perpetually growing; an in-between transformative state of knowledge seeking that renders one to be always becoming, liminal. This is an aspect of the personal learning network (PLN) that I find intriguing because it renders one as a work-in-progress allowing for change. A person’s PLN is an organizational system that absorbs multitudinous sources to aggregate content to aid facility and expedience. Yet, considering the PLN as a container for diverse information modules makes me think of the compartmentalization requisite for the human brain to process new learning. Might this be why PLNs have proven themselves to be so useful and seemingly congruent with our learning styles? Learning about ways we process new learning is fascinating!

As a self-directed learner, I am compelled to always be learning. Books were once my primary knowledge source; however, despite their vitality and usefulness, they are now but one tool I employ to seek information. Organizing my PLN allows me to see all the ways I glean and dabble and indulge and delight in new information. Though, sometimes I feel like an information glut wanting to rapidly accumulate information, and other times I feel inundated, overwhelmed, and avoid screens. By curating my knowledge base to incorporate my most useful resources, I can help mitigate this overload.

I organized my PLN by using Symbaloo to create a “webmix”: a personal desktop with colorful, moveable tiles that link to resources or other webmixes. I divided my webmix by sectioning off tiles in terms of their usefulness and purpose to my PLN and future career as a children’s and teen librarian.

Goals Statement:

My online personal learning network will serve as a bridge to continue my LIS education after graduating this month, and prepare me for a career as a public librarian serving children and teens. My main goals are to learn more and gain practice with current and emerging technologies to reach out to teens that do not currently use libraries, as well as to best serve teen patrons. By shaping and honing my PLN, I am allowing myself a space to maintain and update my skills and resources after graduating, which also provides a much-needed morale boost and encouragement upon reflection of the work I have completed to date with my PLN.

Defined Scope:

As a transplant from New York and California resident for over 10 years, I hope to work with children and teens in Berkeley, San Francisco, or Oakland. All three of these libraries have vibrant teen services and programs, and incorporate many current and emerging technologies to facilitate the many roles of teen life.

Resource Network:

I organized my PLN and resource network using Symbaloo. I was drawn in by the personal desktop feel and the colorful tiles. Yet, I think NetVibes may have been more suitable for this project in hindsight, and am unsure whether I’ll continue to use Symbaloo as a central resource management tool. We shall see.

My Symbaloo:

The two upper rows from left to center include my personal mail, social media sites, and blogs. The four tiles along the top row, left to center include four of my main information sources: Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. My Gmail account is used to (among other things) manage various LIS-related discussion lists. I use Facebook daily as a content aggregator for info about libraries, politics, local events, and to stay in touch with friends, and currently have 420 friends and follow 66 organizations of interest to my future as a librarian. I am also Facebook friends with a number of fellow library students and librarians, including Sarah Houghton-Jan. Admittedly, I do not use Twitter very much since I already spend too much time on Facebook. Although, I do follow 233 people/organizations, many of whom are fellow library students, librarians, and well-respected library organizations.

The following is a list of LIS-related organizations I follow on Facebook arranged by subject and usefulness:

Libraries I love in Real Life that have great Teen Services and Programs:

Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
The Loft Literary Center
Implementing Emerging Technologies and Media-Based Learning in Libraries:WiredTechCrunchLearning Games NetworkMIT Media LabThe New Media Consortium

Free Technology for Teachers


Library Renewal


Libraries Thriving: A Collaborative Space for E-Resource Innovation

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative

Magazines and Journals:

Chronicle of Higher Education

American Libraries Magazine

VOYA Magazine

School Library Journal

Library Journal

Professional Associations:

Freedom to Read Foundation

Banned Books Week

American Library Association

Library & Information Technology Association

Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California

Society of American Archivists

The Library of Congress

California School Library Association

California Library Association


Bay Area Librarians

Public Library Association (PLA)

National Digital Information Infrastructure & Preservation Program

Save Libraries

Student Organizations:

Students and New Archives Professionals (SNAP) Roundtable

Information Professionals Social Club (IPSC)

ASIS&T Student Chapter: San Jose State University


ALA Student Chapter (ALASC), San Jose State University

Internet Archive



I use Gmail to organize my discussion lists. The following are an assorted variety of LIS-related interests I have acquired throughout my academic career.

YALSA-BK: – YALSA discussion group for YA Librarians and teacher-librarians to share ideas for teen programming and services

SNAP (Students and New Archives Professionals) – – SAA discussion group for SNAPs to ask questions about the archiving field/internships/employment opportunities

Archives and Archivists:  – SAA discussion group for archivists to discuss processing and preservation issues among other conversations

PUBLIB : – Discussion group for those employed in public libraries to discuss the myriad attendant issues and concerns including patron queries and tech problems.

ILI- – ACRL discussion group for academic and public librarians to discuss information literacy instruction. Seems most applicable for IL and Reference librarians to share ideas and concepts related to Ili.

InfoLit: – ACRL discussion group for academic and public librarians to discuss information literacy issues and concerns as well as patron queries.


LinkedIn is a resource I explored more fully as a student in LIBR282: Marketing Your Skills in a Networked World. There, I updated my profile and discovered new means of promoting my skills and resources to future employers through LinkedIn. I joined several LIS-related discussion groups worth mentioning. They include: This Week in Libraries, LIS Career Options, and Librarians in the Job Market.

My Blogs:

The second row links to several projects I have worked on either independently or collaboratively. My WordPress tile links to the Project Connect site our team created for Four County Library System in Binghamton, NY. My Weebly tile links to my newly-completed electronic portfolio of my myriad accomplishments throughout the last three years of my MLIS candidacy. The Blogger tile links to my personal blog “out of the shower” which I infrequently update, but continues to be a valuable resource for aggregating my blogroll links. My blogroll titled Libroarians compiles 60+ LIS-related blogs and resources that I regularly visit to further my knowledge base as a future children’s and YA librarian.

I chose two key professional associations to guide my career endeavors as a future children’s and/or teen librarian: ALA and YALSA. They are located in the third row from the top. I regularly use them for professional development. In the row beneath are Radiolab, The Digital Shift, and Mashable: three sources I regularly use for library-related podcasts and emerging tech trends. Following that in the second row from the bottom are magazines and journals: American Libraries, Library Journal, and VOYA: a “leading journal” for YA librarians and patrons. Beside VOYA moving right is the beginning of my catalogs and archives section despite its proximity to the magazines and journals. The OAC (or Online Archive of California) “provides free public access to over 200 contributing libraries, archives, historical societies, and museums throughout California”, and has been a delight to explore. The SJSU reference databases have also been an amazing resource that I will be sad to leave behind when I graduate this month L My bottom row includes several catalogs and archives as well as other resources like The Free Dictionary. Notable catalogs and archives include the Minerva Project (the Library of Congress’ Web Archives), LibGuides (a resource database for myriad subjects compiled by librarians), Calisphere (an archive of primary sources collected and arranged by the University of California), and OCLC (a universal library catalog or the “world’s libraries connected”).

In the top right hand corner are my most-used and well-loved bookmarking sites and RSS feeds like Instapaper, Diigo, Google Reader, and Pinterest. I use Instapaper to save longer articles to read later, whereas I bookmark items of any length on Diigo to save for future library research, teaching, or creative projects. I have aggregated tons of bundled content in my Google Reader but cannot train myself to visit that page. I usually opt to scroll through live feeds on my blog’s sidebar to scan important news items. I use Pinterest sporadically to learn more about how libraries use Pinterest to reach YA and children through promoting reading and reader’s advisory.

Here I have also included LiveBinders, Zotero, and Scoop.It despite my intermittent use of these resources. While I use daily and subscribe to a few curated “scoops” about  Information Literacy, I do not currently use Zotero and LiveBinders. I hope to explore them more fully in order to instruct older teens about their usefulness for research assignments. GoodReads is a resource that I use daily to learn about new YA titles, and I plan to continue to use it to reach teens as a YA librarian.

Also included in this section are two of my document management systems: Google Docs and Dropbox, which I use daily to manage my research and creative projects. Both of these will also prove vital to collaborative projects with children and teens.

The bottom right hand corner includes most of the tools I currently have in my tech toolkit that I either currently use or hope to employ in working as a children’s or YA librarian. They include: Wordle, SlideRocket, Jing, BrainPop, SchoolTube, TED talks, Glogster, and VoiceThread.

Two more collaborative tools I have included in this section are: wikispaces and schoolibswiki. My aim is to offer these tools as means of managing collaborative group projects for high school students seeking instruction or assistance at the public library.

To stay abreast of emerging tech trends and learn insightful new ways to integrate various technologies into my pedagogy and instruction with teens in public libraries, I have included Free Tech for Teachers, Library 2.0 (also for their upcoming conferences), and Classroom 2.0.

Problem-Solving/PLN in Action:

Sometimes I feel like a Facebook Reference stalker offering answers to friends’ library or resource related questions, but it’s too fun to discontinue my unpaid services as a FB Reference Librarian. One specific example is when my friend Jennifer was seeking information about graphic design firms in the Bay Area, and I referred her to QuestionPoint which proved very useful to her search. I have also alerted many people through Facebook to the virtual reference databases available to them through their local public libraries. As an ardent advocate for libraries, I also often use Facebook to inform friends from my past about the many ways libraries have changed over the years.

Network Maintenance Plan:

I will maintain my online personal learning network by using it regularly as a personal desktop to remain connected to each and all of these resources.  I plan to adjust it as resources become outdated or defunct. Since compiling and organizing resources can be quite meditative (to my mind), I am also considering either augmenting my webmix by interlinking to new, subdivided webmixes specifically allocated to either YA Lit, Children’s Lit or Teen Tech Toolkit, for example, or compiling another PLN using NetVibes since it looks like a great platform to explore. The possibilities for gleaning and learning and discovery abound.

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Melissa Eleftherion is a writer, a librarian, and a visual artist. She is the author of field guide to autobiography (The Operating System, 2018), & nine chapbooks, including the forthcoming trauma suture (above/ground press, 2020). Born & raised in Brooklyn, Melissa now lives in Mendocino County where she manages the Ukiah Library, teaches creative writing, & curates the LOBA Reading Series. Recent work is available at

3 thoughts on “My Online PLN”

  1. Really nice mode of organization…Symbaloo is a cool tool. Noticed your list of potential employers is very close to my own “wish list.” Perhaps we’ll be fellow colleagues one of these days.


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