A week and a half ago, I was giving a talk in South Florida (where I used to live) and it’s made me a little reflective about how much my life has changed since then.

Four and a half years ago, I was a Library Assistant I at the Boca Raton Public Library, working in circulation. Ten days ago, I stood at a podium in Ft. Lauderdale as the keynote speaker of the Southeast Florida Library Information Network’s (SELFIN) annual conference. I started my talk by commenting on this and stating that I think my story is indicative of the growing openness of our profession — how anyone with good ideas and a little chutzpah can achieve a lot in this profession regardless of their age or years of experience.

But could I possibly have made this huge transition without the Web? Not a chance. Without the Web I wouldn’t have been able to get my thoughts and ideas out there on my blog. Without my blog, I wouldn’t have gotten a book deal. Without the book deal, I wouldn’t have gotten the speaking gigs and the column. Even if I’d faithfully served in ALA and wrote peer-reviewed articles until my hands bled, I probably still wouldn’t have been up at that podium without the Web.

And it made me think about what else I wouldn’t have been able to do without the Web. Like meet my husband.

Six years ago, I was despairing that I’d ever find a true life partner. Anyone who’s lived in South Florida knows how many shallow, materialistic people there are in that area, and how difficult it can be to meet kindred spirits. After meeting one too many guys who looked like they spent more time on their hair than I ever have, I decided to try match.com. Within a day of creating my profile, I had about 80 emails from interested men, but ruled 95% of them out due to extreme spelling/grammatical errors, the scent of desperation, or the obvious form-letter nature of their email. I figured I might have better luck finding someone myself instead of waiting for them to find me. While looking through people’s profiles, I saw a guy with an adorable smile who quoted the Simpsons, was well-educated, and who said he was the sort of person who friends depend on to drive them to the airport. Considering that my biggest pet peeve is unreliable people, that statement was probably the most appealing thing anyone could have written. I deleted my match.com profile after two dates with Adam and never looked back. I’m still amazed by my luck.

Around the time I met my husband, I was applying to library school programs. We’d only been together several months when I found out I’d been accepted to the University of Maryland’s LIS program and was offered a huge fellowship to go there. What an awful decision to have to make so early in our relationship. Had I gone to Maryland, I feel pretty sure that Adam and I would not have stayed together, as I have a very low tolerance for long-distance relationships. Instead, I chose to get my MLIS at a distance from Florida State. That way, we could build our relationship and I could go to school. If the Web didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be married to Adam (heck, I wouldn’t even have met him).

Almost four years ago, I was getting close to the end of my MLIS program and was frustrated by the lack of connection/community between students. I was getting increasingly interested in social software and knew no one from school who was interested in that stuff. So, after driving my husband crazy talking about the sort of stuff I’ve blogged about over the years, he convinced me to start a blog. And from that, I made so many wonderful friends — people who challenge me, who make me laugh, who teach me things, and who inspire me. My life has been so enriched by knowing so many of you. If the Web didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have this amazing (and cherished) professional network.

The list goes on and on. I’ve reconnected with old friends online. I’ve planned a destination wedding in the Napa Valley entirely online (from choosing the location to the photographer to the officiant). I found other people with common interests online. I’ve learned so much online. And while we take it for granted every morning when we fire up our computers and open our Web browser, it’s really changed so much about how we live. It has opened up opportunities to people who may never have had them otherwise. It’s allowed for new ways to contribute to the profession and to network. It’s allowed good ideas to get an audience. It’s given us opportunities to connect with people with common interests. It’s really kind of amazing. I do take some credit for getting to where I am, but, really, none of it would have happened without the Web.

How has the Web changed or enriched your life?