Blogging About Librarians Who Are Blogging

Anyone can start a blog, yet those who have know that keeping and maintaining a blog is difficult and requires serious amounts of time and work. There is a distinct difference between a library blog and a librarian blog. To help understand the difference, Katy Greenland provides a definition:

Librarian blogs…are produced by individuals working in the LIS profession who blog about their work and other topics. The audience tends to be peers within the LIS profession, rather than library users. The librarian blogs of interest in this review are generally personal and conducted outside of work hours. They are an important communication channel for the profession that allows for the creation of networks and collaborations to emerge between peers. (Greenland as cited in Luzo´n 2008)

Therefore, in this context, “professional bloggers” are professionals (i.e. librarians) who blog about topics within their profession to an audience generally composed of other professionals. Understanding that a professional blogger is a professional blogging about a profession, opposed to someone who has made a profession of blogging (although that is sometimes the case), helps readers gain a better contextual idea of the authors behind the proliferating blogosphere.

Through Feedly, an RSS feed, I followed Steven Cohen’s blog, “Library Stuff” (www.librarystuff.net), subtitled, “The library weblog dedicated to resources for keeping current and professional development.” Cohen organized the topics of his posts within a specific tagging system. He wrote about topics related to academic libraries, ALA, amazon.com, archives, banned books, budgets, censorship, copyright, digital libraries, ebooks, facebook, filtering, flickr, Google, government, Internet, Kindle, lawsuits, research, news, public libraries, school libraries, search tools, and even Harry Potter. I greatly appreciated the way Cohen setup his blog. To me, it was a very sustainable means to keep up to date on the goings-on of the library world. Instead of writing lengthy posts on various related topics, Cohen simply inserted key quotations from news reports or articles from other sites and inserted a link to follow to these news articles. In this way, readers could read the gist of the article, and if they were thoroughly intrigued, could click on the link to finish the entire article from start to finish. If I were to start a librarian blog, I think this method would be beneficial both to myself and others. Keeping a blog of updated library news would motivate me to stay in touch, and also provide a means to share what I find with other readers.

I also followed Jessamyn West on Librarian.net (www.librarian.net), subtitled “putting the rarin back in librarian since 1999.” West explains, “librarian.net is my weblog and it has been going since April 20, 1999. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first single-editor library-oriented weblog.” West’s blog follows what is now probably considered the traditional librarian blogging method. She finds a relevant topic and writes about it. While this is a good practice for a professional librarian, it is also time consuming and demands a large amount of commitment and self-discipline. However, West seems to be going strong. She posts about one post a month centered on a specific topic. Her most recent post was “professional news and thank yous,” where she explains her recently busy life and involvement with ALA, MLA, and recent writing projects.

Through this assignment, and also through the process of maintaining my own professional blog, I learned that librarian blogs demand attention. Starting a blog is simple, but in order for it to be a success it must serve a specific purpose for a large group of people; otherwise, it will become yet another failed attempt. Getting involved in a network of blogs can help keep the spark alive and serve as an encouraging support system.

Resources

Greenland, K. (2013). Negotiating Self-presentation, Identity, Ethics, Readership and Privacy in the LIS Blogosphere: A Review of the Literature. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 44 (4), 217–225. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00048623.2013.843236

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A Good Serving of Lists: New Technologies in Academic Archives

In mid September, I started tracking job listings posted on WSU’s listserv (LISJOBS@lists.wayne.edu). Initially, I focused on academic libraries; the majority of my recorded data is based on jobs within the university library. However, more recently I have also been tracking job descriptions within archival administration. Not long ago, I started following an additional listserv geared for library and archival jobs (libjobs@infoserv.inist.fr). I reviewed approximately one hundred postings during this time. Outside of a handful of music librarian job listings, every job description required at least basic technology proficiency. However, I would approximate about ninety percent of the postings required more than basic computer knowledge. This came as a surprise to me. While I knew technology was an important aspect of the librarian’s skillset, I did not realize the extent these skills are desired and required of both librarians and archivists.

Some of the essential computer skills were extremely explicit. For example, a college archivist position at Florida Southern College was asking for applicants with specific knowledge of and experience using bibliographic utilities including OCLC, integrated library systems, PastPerfect, and CONTENTdm; along with a working knowledge of cataloging and metadata standards such as MARC21, XML, EAD, Dublin Core, LCSH, DACS, AACR2, and authority control. In addition to these technology skills, the job posting required experience with the collection and preservation of born-digital materials, instructional experience, successful grant writing or participation in successful grant writing activity, familiarity with the history and governance of the United Methodist Church, and certification through the Academy of Certified Archivists. I am new to archival administration and unfamiliar with the acronyms of these bibliographic utilities and how they are used and operated. As I continue focusing on archives and taking more classes over the next two years (such as LIS 7710 and LIS 7770), I anticipate being introduced to these terms and understanding their significance.

Nevertheless, I plan on continuing to follow at least one listserv throughout the next two years and recording the skills I feel confident in, the skills I am familiar with, but not confident in, and the skills I do not have. As I learn about different technologies and build on my experience in class and during my practicum, I can check the skills off my list. If there are skills being posted on the listserv that are not covered in class, I will attempt to learn about these technologies on my own. Even if I do not own the software or have much experience with facets of specific forms of technology, I can at least be familiar with their functions and explain what I knew in an interview without appearing unprepared or incompetent.

I understand that I will be going into my first job out of graduate school at entry-level. One of the discouraging aspects of many of the postings was the required years of experience. Unfortunately, this is something I have no control over. I worked for two years in an academic library during my undergrad, but not as a librarian, and I will have two more additional years of experience working as a library intern during graduate school, but I am still limited to four years of experience (maybe even just two years, and an internship might not even qualify for some of these universities). Much of the job postings are requiring at least five-plus years at the minimum. Regardless, no matter how many years of experience are required, it seems that a certain level of job training is inevitable no matter where I apply. The important aspect of an interview is demonstrating that I am self-motivated and directed and not afraid to take on new challenges.