At the 2007 Mountain Plains Library Association Leadership (MPLA) Institute, held in New Mexico, USA, eight academic librarians formed an online multi-state, multigenerational community of practice. MPLA is a twelve-state library association within the United States. Using Google Groups™, the members formed an online environment called the MPLA Community of Practice for continuing development of the leadership skills presented at the Institute. These early-career librarians represent diverse educational backgrounds and work in libraries serving varied populations with differing disciplinary emphases.
The group meets monthly with each member preparing and facilitating online discussions, complete with personal assessments, topical readings, and questions. The Google Groups™ site is also used to discuss important library issues including sharing innovative practices, identifying useful resources, and discussing timely workplace issues. The group has been extremely successful not only at maintaining regular communication but also pursuing opportunities for continuing professional development. This paper highlights how librarians can develop and launch a peer-mentoring space using free online tools such as Google Groups™, Skype™, and Doodle™ from anywhere in the world. It also addresses current literature related to communities of practice, leadership topics discussed by the group, and personal stories about its impact on individual group members.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/erin_davis/1/