February 17, 2018

Amanda Etches-Johnson | Movers & Shakers 2007

Sharing the Wealth


Amanda Etches-Johnson believes that as librarians we are ‘almost dutybound to share our experiences with each other.’ That’s why she shares everything she knows in her blog, online courses, frequent conference presentations, and on WebJunction’s Social Software forum. Her free, collaborative, online course, ‘Five Weeks to a Social Library,’ provides ‘first-rate cutting-edge tech education to library staff who can’t afford to attend workshops and conferences on the subject,’ says Camden County Library’s Sophie Brookover.

On Blog Without a Library, she introduces herself with ‘Hi, my name is Amanda, and I’m an academic librarian, blogger, and tech geek.’ Those skills complement each other, to the benefit of her university community. A longtime user of social software who started a blog well before people even called them that, she introduced those communication techniques into McMaster University’s library services, starting a library blog in 2003 and IM reference in 2005.

She likes to think it was her success in improving communication with students through web technologies that led to the change in her job description, from reference librarian to user experience librarian. Her current focus is on ‘building the best library web site we possibly can, as well as meeting users in the other online spaces they inhabit, whether those spaces are online social networks or virtual worlds.’

What Etches-Johnson finds most rewarding is knowing how valuable her work is to other librarians. She’s become accustomed to receiving their effusive thanks for the wiki she built that made it easy to learn how libraries are using blogs, but she says hearing it still ‘puts a big dumb smile on my face.’

Etches-Johnson is struck by the power of social software to build relationships with distant library users and with librarians throughout North America. Without her blog, she doubts she’d have gained a reputation or been offered so many professional opportunities and honors. For her, librarianship is ‘one of those professions that you just are rather than something you do.’




CURRENT POSITION Reference and User Experience Librarian, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

DEGREES MIS, University of Toronto, 2002

BLOG www.blogwithoutalibrary.net; www.sociallibraries.com/course

VERY CRAFTY Loves to work with yarn, needles, fabric, ribbons, and thread