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Gerry McKiernan on social networking and the "Swiss Army" theory

We're moving right along with our Info Pro-files series, and the man of the hour is Gerry McKiernan, whom Janelle recently interviewed.

Gerry is a Science and Technology Librarian at Iowa State University Library. He's devoted the past 21 years of his career to the library, and has focused on a wide range of disciplines, including engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, agriculture, zoology, and more.

As Janelle learns in the interview, Gerry has an interesting perspective on the industry, one gained from immersing himself in library science for so many years, while closely following and adopting emerging technologies.

He reflects on the days of programming using key punching cards on mainframes. He takes us through some of the industry's biggest inflection points, the latest of which is the invention of the Internet. It's given us the power to create community, and out of that, Gerry believes, was born the future of library science: social networks.

He calls social networking a "Swiss Army information tool." It contains many tools that can collectively create synergy within an organization, such as blogs, wikis, chat functions, photo and video sharing, and so on.

He talks about how niche social networks are multiplying across the industry. He sees this as an indicator of a larger trend, in which businesses from a wide range of industries are recognizing and trying to realize the benefits of social networks.

Gerry has been following and documenting these trends on his blogs. He's created 18 of them, although he's active on some more than others. His main blog is Friends: Social Networking Sites for Engaged Library Services. A list of Gerry's other blogs can be found on his Blogger profile, and you can learn more about his blogging story in this Information World Review article.

It seems natural that Gerry would be so embedded in social technologies. He says he's always been interested in using computers to facilitate communications and enhance productivity.

That's also why he was excited to discover Presto 3.0, and how it can help businesses solve organizational problems by using the wisdom of the community. He likes how it gives organizations a "best of both worlds," that is, vetted expertise integrated with tacit knowledge.

Gerry also explores studies that have found the benefits of social networking, and shares his techniques for staying abreast of technological developments and industry trends. He let us know that he's been invited to become a regular contributor to Searcher Magazine, and will cover various niche online networks. We'll be looking forward to his first column in early spring!

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy our interview with Gerry.

And Gerry, thanks for sharing your story!

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