Why This Academic Librarian Blogs

There has been some discussion around the blogosphere about the lack of blogs that focus specifically on academic librarianship. It was very nice of Meredith to mention me in her post as one of the voices of academic librarianship, so I though I would attempt to spell out my reasons for blogging. I’m a little late getting to this topic, as I have been on vacation for a couple of weeks.

I started this blog in January of this year for the purpose of keeping up with current issues in librarianship and technology. I had been subscribed to a number of library blogs for most of last year, and I really liked what I was reading about. For me, it did not matter if the information was geared toward academic, public, or special libraries, as I found a lot of the information relevant to what I was doing, or to what I wanted to learn more about. Like many, I started out with just a few feeds, and now it seems like I am adding a new feed every week. I loved the immediacy of getting up-to-date information, and I loved being able to skim my feeds to see what I wanted to read, and what I just wanted to skip. I also began to appreciate the community that formed around blogging, as I thought it was really cool how blogs link to other blogs, and a topic is carried around cyberspace.

With that in mind, I wanted in on the action. This was not for selfish reasons, as I don’t plan on getting famous blogging (Currently Library Voice has eight subscribers in Bloglines, and one of those is me). Nor will I get a promotion or a raise by blogging (we don’t have faculty status/tenure at my library). Rather, I felt that something was lacking in my current role as a consumer of information. I wanted to give something back to the library blogging community. Hence, I started this blog in January to contribute in a small way to the community of library bloggers.

Now my small way of contributing has only been about 50 posts since January. Needless to say, I am not about to blow anyone away with my sheer quantity of thought-provoking ramblings. I have a tendency to neglect this blog some, but I am working on that. I generally don’t have time to blog while at work, although I do occasionally have time during slow periods at the reference desk. One of the more entertaining comments in the Inside Higher ed piece explains the time shortage that many librarians face:

My reaction to this observation about academic library blogs is “Of course! Who has the #%@&&* time to mess with a blog?!” My colleagues and I barely have time to stop and pee during the day much less blog. (I only saw this commentary because it was emailed to me by a faculty member outside the library, not because I pore over think-pieces about libraianship)

I have huge demands on my time as well, but I personally think I am doing myself an injustice by not keeping up with library-related blogs, current events, and technology feeds.

People tend to blog about what they are interested in, and I am no exception. In my blog, I tend to focus primarily on library and technology related issues, but I have been known to write about other things as well. As I wear many hats in my position, I am interested in numerous areas and may write about almost anything. In my job I do reference, instruction, collection development, and web management, and I am also a subject specialist. I am also very interested in technology and it’s impact on teaching and learning. I tend to write about these things from the perspective of an academic librarian, because that is what I am and is what I know. However it is important to know that I am one librarian at a single institution, so I try to avoid making generalizations about how all academic libraries/librarians do things. Therefore, there is no way that I can be an authority on all issues pertaining to academic librarianship, and I imagine that most other librarian bloggers would say the same thing–regardless of whether they are in the academic or public sector.

My academic librarian perspective also influences everything I read as well. I read a number of blogs by public librarians, and I am constantly reading their words and ideas in an academic librarian context. I have gotten a number of good ideas from quite a few blogs, and honestly, prior to this post, I did not really think about whether a blogger was an academic or a public librarian. I read stuff from people who have good thoughts and ideas, without lumping them into categories. They’re all just librarians to me.

Many librarians publish their research and ideas in scholarly and trade publications. There is definitely a need for this type of publication. In my current position, I do not have to publish, as we do not have a tenure review process. However, that has not stopped me from submitting an article or two (unfortunately, I have yet to get one accepted). Librarians are publishing some great articles, but these articles take a great deal of time to come to press. Also, one must subscribe or have electronic access to retrieve an article in a scholarly publication, which can be a barrier to accessing the information. The truly great thing about blogging is how instantly you can publish your thoughts and ideas. No one has to review what you write, so your words can reach many quickly, and without charging subscription fees. There is also the potential for getting a great deal of positive and negative feedback, which can add to your ideas and the thoughts of others. While there is no peer review process prior to publication, the potential for feedback can be a good review process for your ideas. In this way, blogging could be a useful method to generate ideas that may eventually become the start of a good article.

As Meredith mentioned, I suppose I am one of the voices of academic librarianship. However, my Library Voice extends beyond academic librarianship. In order for me to be a good librarian, I feel that I need to be up to date on a lot of issues. Technology, cataloging trends, issues in scholarly publishing, library marketing, blogging, instant messaging, learning behaviors, and budget problems are just a few of the topics that I might write about. Each of these topics can be addressed by both public and academic librarian bloggers. If I just wrote about my every day life in an academic library, well, that could be fun, but it could also make my library voice fairly monotone, and my library world would become pretty small. The beauty of blogging is that you can take the many voices that are out there, listen to them, digest them, and then exercise your own voice while expanding your view of the overall library environment.

Update: Believe it or not, I actually wrote this before reading the post from the Library Web Chic. I probably could have saved some time and said, “Yeah, what she said.”

2 thoughts on “Why This Academic Librarian Blogs

  1. As an academic librarian, I’d have to agree with you about the benefit paying close attention to blogs written by librarians of all stripes (academic, public, special, etc.) My ACRL membership is great and all (I like the publications I get with my membership), but unless I join another division representing another group of libraries (school libraries, public libraries) or another area of interest (e.g., LITA for the techies, etc.) or another organization altogether (e.g., Special Libraries Association) I have limited means for keeping up with the latest developments outside of my small world. The world of blogs I follow is the best solution I’ve found for keeping up and being challenged with ideas I may not hear from my community of fellow academic librarians.

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