Have you heard about #auslibchat?

#auslibchat is an Australia and New Zealand centered professional discussion on Twitter for library and information services students and professionals. It is proudly presented by the ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee (NGAC) on the first Tuesday of the month at 9pm AEST.

#auslibchat began with a need. There was an empty niche in Australia for a collaborative and inclusive regular discussion platform for the GLAMR sector. The vague idea of a structured discussion had been on our radar at NGAC for a while, but it wasn’t until August 2015 that NGAC formulated the plan that resulted in #auslibchat. We held our first chat in February 2016 and haven’t looked back since!

Each chat has a predetermined theme that acts as a focus point for the hour. During that hour, we present our participants with five key questions, usually starting fairly simple and broad, along the lines of how do you define X? or do you have any experience with X at work? The key questions, which are identifiable with the prefix Q1-5, then go on to explore various facets of the theme in more depth. Comments, suggestions and further questions are asked inside each key question bracket by the #auslibchat Moderator with the aim of facilitating discussion and boosting participant engagement. Participants are requested to include A1-5 and the tag #auslibchat when writing their response.

Now that you know a bit about #auslibchat, NGAC would love to see you get involved!

Every month we’re working behind the scenes, discussing how best to approach each chat and what questions we should ask to elicit the best response from participants and make sure everyone feels welcome and included. We also want themes to follow important topics that may be missed by other GLAMR communication channels. Important and current issues are tackled, ranging from: social justice, accessibility and diversity to inter-organisational collaboration and metadata standards; finding your first GLAMR job to customer service.

Participant responses to themes presented so far have met with shared values between participants, been divisive, and created an interesting, and overall very positive atmosphere. Through expanded discussion, every chat has ended congenially and on good terms, valuing differing opinions. We have explored other uses for #auslibchat. In March this year we turned the chat into a Q & A session with ALIA board nominees to give our audience a chance to engage with them directly. This change of format was also met with a positive response, from both the nominees and our audience.

The theme for September is Indigenous Services.

Here’s the link to the questions, which will go live a week before the chat.

The positive reception received by NGAC about #auslibchat has helped foster an environment where networking is highly valued: sharing goals, forging positive and professional relationships, and enabling a sense of community and belonging. And in fostering that environment, allowing anybody to participate at any time for free, #auslibchat has given participants a sense of ownership over online professional discourse. This in turn allows them to, either consciously or not, create and develop their personal branding. Their profiles and responses are moulded into #auslibchat, linked to it. In that way #auslibchat is part of every participant’s online identity. And we hope it will become part of your online identity too!

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