By Jenifer Grady, Editor
Blogging is one way library workers are smudging the line between work and life. As you may know, a blog is short for weblog, an online journal. They show up on political websites, electronic magazine sites, and disease related sites as a way to share current information, inspire thought, encourage debate, and express emotions. Some blogs do all of these at once. You will find blog sites that are very personal, informative, interactive, thought-provoking, and funny (perhaps not all at once). Our profession boasts many celebrated bloggers who share their day-to-day activities and concerns with the world. Be careful, writing and reading blogs can be addictive. Enjoy the journey.
In the library world, blogs are opportunities to share technological innovations and experiences with them, resources for the latest in library trends, forums for discussion of library and non-library issues, or an integral part of library service. Some serve as outlets for what cannot be said at work and/or for showing others that there’s more to a worker than where s/he works. Blogs can be manifestations of the work/life balance.
The blogs listed below are done by individuals, but note that there are also collaborative efforts and community sites. You can find a list of library blogs at , organized by country of origin, as well as several articles on how and why to start blogging.
Jessamyn West is an activist who reigns at Librarian.net, a platform for conversation on politics affecting the field, a locus for where and how libraries have been mentioned in the media, and a way for Jessamyn to meet people in the field with shared interests. Her network feeds her hot tips like where to find librarian-specific clothing ( ). Hers was one of the first “about library issues, specifically alternative and politically-oriented library issues (worker strikes, funding crises, problems with organizational level stuff, GLBT issues).” She uses Movable Type now but used to code by hand.
Peter Burd started his blog, called Ref Grunt, in 2003, and it is approaching its one-year anniversary. This chronicle is “an attempt to list every transaction I make with patrons at the reference desk. I started it because I caught the blog bug, and I had never seen this sort of blow-by-blow account attempted (I was wrong). I meant it to be entertainment, but I have had heard of people pointing to it as an example of what librarians really do at the desk. I hope I haven’t scared off any library students.”
icontemplate.com is the brainchild of Nat, who describes himself as “an upper-level library assistant (read: librarian without an MLS degree) with the unfortunate task of working somewhere in Florida.” Nat reflects on his daily activities within and outside the library walls and offers them up for comment (contemplations). Here’s a sample of questions Nat has answered, from September 18, 2003:
- No, sir, we don’t have books on growing marijuana.
- No, sir, we don’t have out of town newspapers.
- No, sir, we don’t have the Kama Sutra on our shelf right now.
- No, m’am, we can’t tell if that’s infected or not.
- No, sir, we are closed on Sundays.
- Please, sir, for the love of God, please put your shirt back on.
- M’am, you’ll need shoes to be in the building. No, m’am, we don’t have any you can borrow.
- No, sir, you can’t stay in the building after we’re closed.
- No, we don’t have newspapers dating back to the 1800s.
- No, we don’t have any high school yearbooks.
- Yes, m’am, I do work here.
- No, m’am, I’m not kidding.
- Yes, I know, I look 15.
Creating a blog
It would help to have an idea of what you want to say. You don’t have to be certain that you will have enough to say to sustain the blog, but it might help. Kelley Weaver, the pinklibrarian, gives the following advice:
it’s a bit like hearing a recording of your own voice. at first it’s completely uncomfortable and you cringe. then it gets better, and then finally you’ll post any dumb thing that flits through your mind. it’s very relaxing actually.
The content is completely up to you, as is identifying the audience you want to reach, which can be as narrow as yourself, or as broad as everyone on earth. You may identify yourself, choose an alias, or remain anonymous (see the Male Librarian Centerfold for example). Blogs can include photographs, drawings, interactive features, comments from readers, and links to fellow bloggers. Although creating and maintaining a blog can be complex, there are many Web sites that provide templates for you to create your blog easily, such as www.blogger.com. If your blog exists indefinitely, you may want to be sure that your technology supports archiving and searching.
Find out more
Library blogs have been featured in several articles, including:
- Steven M. Cohen, “The ‘New Breed’ of Library Weblogs,” Library Stuff (Nov. 9, 2004).
- Walt Crawford, “‘You Must Read This’: Library Weblogs,” American Libraries (Oct. 2001).
- KatLong, “Revenge of the Librarians,” Bust (spring 2004).
- Jeffrey Pomerantz and Frederic Stutzman,Lyceum: A Blogsphere for Library Reference, 2004. “Description of Lyceum, an open source software project designed by ibiblio.org, a facilitator of blogspheres.”
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