Let me count the ways

What’s your blog about? That is the first question posed for the yearlong Twitter challenge for library professionals to #glamblogweekly.

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Katie of Strawberries of Integrity gave an efficient bullet point list to answer this question. And I relate to most of those: life,  bereavements; family; music; movies; reading; some library…I would add art; books; design; podcasts, tech, genealogy, and general musings.

I loved the article length posting by Paige the Librarian in answer to the question for #glamblogweekly and find her explanation defining the differences between the professions excellent, so much so that I quote it here:

“To look at it a different way, a librarian might search for a book that directly meets an information request. An archivist might go to that same book and think about how the book got on the shelf and who owned it before it got there and if there are any bookmarks in the book. A museum curator might think about which illustrations or spread of the book would look nice in an exhibition. A historian might think about the era the book was published in and what it tells us about that era. A conservator might look at the book and think, how much longer will this book last and what can I do to make it last longer? It is true, we are sometimes very different.”

So I began blogging in 2006 with The Blog of a Footballer’s Mother. This was very much a journal about following the journey of one of my sons as he became an AFL footballer. I then started French Accent as a way to pursue my love and appreciation for French culture. This blog remains online but I don’t post there anymore, despite my continuing yearning for some elusive French quality in my days.

Soon after I started SuesBent and have been dabbling ever since. ‘suesbent’ is the abbreviation of my name back when Hotmail first appeared and 8 characters was the limit for the username. (showing my age) I use it to sign my paintings too. I like the play on words that “Sue is bent” because I do see the world from an alternate view and love the unexpected things in life. I love Chaos Theory, Quantum Physics, Mandelbrot Theory, and yes I am a geek. In the library world I love the work of Tim Sherratt. Not that I write about these topics because I am just an appreciator in those lofty realms.

In recent years, since my parents died, I have found my ‘voice’ become silent. I have explored the reasons but it still eludes me. So I embrace this challenge to #glamblogweekly as a means to find my voice once again. Bring on the questions.

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A kick from an Information Flaneur

Back in August last year I responded to a blog post by another Librarian – but didn’t publish it. It sat in my files forgotten and the busy-ness of life took over.

Now six months later I notice that this Librarian has not published anymore content on his blog. I wonder why? Perhaps some of the possibilities I suggested in my response could have made an impact. But I’m only guessing based on my own imagined restrictions. Here is my response:

So yes Hugh I agree! I agree with everything you said. And I love the term you have coined “Information Flaneur”. It is the perfect label for this concept of today’s librarian that you promote. It has that sophisticated French ring that resonates with the ideological salon discussions for which the French are famous. And who would not love a random wander around Paris? Pick me!

And….I love the minimalist design of your website – very cool! (Maybe about to undergo a facelift, refocus, or hiatus?)

So to the content of your blog post; because our job is all about the content don’t you think? Here is my response to your challenge:

I wrote back in 2008, that I see the “reference interview” as a unique conversation of shared discovery. So I agree with you. There is no pat model for new librarians. We need to find our way in a flexible, open, responsive, and helpful way that suits the needs of the customer. Our small advantage, even in this era of easy access to the information pile, is that we understand the architecture of how that information is created, gathered, stored, and distributed. So that allows us to be able to take some shortcuts that others might not know. We can shine a torch on our partnered wander in the dark, and hope not to end up in the catacombs – unless that is where we’d want to go; or where we enjoy going by accident.

I love this notion that you suggest by using the term “flaneur”; we can browse, not knowing what it is that we will find, and then be inspired to learn something new and random that could launch our lives into a direction previously unperceived. We don’t know what we don’t know. I love searching the subject headings in library catalogues using terms like “resilience” and then discovering a new book and author that I had not previously heard about. Such as Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment by Katrina Kenison. It is a great read for older women, empty-nesters, new at grieving for lost friends and family.

Back in 2011 and 2013, I researched Aussie Librarian bloggers because I enjoy reading about current trends and thinking in our field (like you). I wanted to know who was saying what. I was searching for opinion, but found little, except for a handful, of which yours stood out; and I complimented you for that.

Back in 2013, I researched library podcasts and found these and still listen occasionally.

You set the bar high Hugh. You are insightful, knowledgeable, well-read, and articulate. You display a generosity of spirit by inviting others to join in the conversation. But I think you do not want “yes-men”. Your online jousting with heavy-hitters such as R. D. Lankes about the pros and cons of 3D printers in libraries makes me think you enjoy getting your adrenalin pumping from these kinds of debates. You want to have your mind challenged and opened with new insights provided through passionate discussion, somewhat like the French salons of yesteryear. Me – I prefer mulling quietly.

So here are some possible reasons or excuses for the lack of meaningful and well-considered opinion online that we crave:

  • Organisational Policy – have you read the Social Media Policy of your governing organization? Silly question – of course you have. It is so restrictive that who would want to even peep (or tweet) about anything that could be remotely interpreted to be about work by your employers? And I have worked on a committee that created a Social Media Policy and Procedure for local government, so I realize both sides of the discussion. I notice though, that your posts talk about our profession rather than your employer. You are smart in that regard, but it would deter many others.
  • Time constraints – after a week of full-time work, who has time? How much time is left in a day after commuting, exercise, grocery shopping, cooking, eating, yoga, meditation, chores, reading (for pleasure and work), watching the next episode of Breaking Bad legally borrowed from the library, watching my son play football, and more. Who gets the time to write a well considered blog post, let alone read any?
  • Blank stares – you know that look you get when you say the word “blog”? You and I know it is all about the content and the web is just the platform and distribution media. Maybe we need to come up with a new term for blog? Got any French terms that would fit?
  • Powerlessness – further to the discussion about the mechanics of blogs is the lack of awareness there seems to be about how to harness the power of blogs by using software platforms and apps such as Feedly. This is another area where Librarians excel and can lead the way (if we manage to work past the glazed eyes). It astonishes me how many library professionals don’t know about this simple tool and how to use it for personal and professional development. To me it seems like a gardener who doesn’t use a wheelbarrow. (Although my wheelbarrow is a bit full and needs emptying and refilling.)
  • Self-protection – how open do you want to be online? Do you really want to reveal everything? You don’t and nor do I. But where do you draw the line? There is a valid push for people to be authentic online, and I applaud that approach. But really? And who cares? And what about trolls, haters, fraud, and opportunists?
  • Work versus personal – it’s important to have a focus for a blog I think, and our profession is perfect for writing about online, but even when you try to focus on our line of work, without discussing our employers, over time personal stuff gets in the way and affects what is on our mind and what we are willing to put up for public knowledge. I can think of a few blogs that I enjoyed reading that were sidetracked because cancer came into their lives. Over recent years I have had enormous personal life changes that have influenced the circumstances of my professional work.

So there you go Hugh: how’s that for a comment? I hope others in our industry jump to your little challenge. It has only taken me six months.

P.S. Good luck with the changes in your work scenario.

42 Aussie Librarian Bloggers in 2013

In 2011, I began an investigation into Australian Librarian bloggers: how many could I locate online; who were they; what sector did they work in; the topics they posted about; and the overall look and feel of their blog. I was interested in individuals and did not want to investigate the blogs of library organisations. So I narrowed the field to the personal blogs of Australian Librarians. While I did include librarians from tertiary academia, I narrowed the field by not including the blogs by teacher librarians situated in primary or secondary school libraries. I also added 14 Librarian bloggers from overseas just to provide a measure of comparison.

After a quick and dirty Google search I located Libraries Interact where there is a list of Australian Librarian bloggers. Of these, in 2011, many were already inactive after running out of steam following the 23 Things training. There were other lists and indexes I stumbled across and I soon listed 66 active Australian librarian bloggers. Although my list did include many of the active bloggers from the Libraries Interact list, it also included others not on that list. I looked for the names of the bloggers and their twitter links. I tried to ascertain the library sector that they worked in. I read about their favourite topics and attempted to evaluate the content by gauging them against a content rubric that I created for the task.

Some bloggers like to write book reviews; some like to talk about their experiences answering customer’s questions; others like to pass on information about technology; some vent; some show their creative talents in the kitchen or with crafts; holidays are popular topics; most were personal; and many were superficial. My five-smile rating 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂  was a rare gem indeed on my incomplete list.

I was searching for relevant, interesting, deep, and meaningful content. I wanted to hear opinion. And while there is much great content from our bloggers, one stood out – It’s Not About The Books by Hugh Rundle. Good on you Hugh! Hugh continues to boldly post thought-provoking and challenging articles that are written with excellence. He embeds relevant links thoughtfully. He sets the bar high and is a fine example for anyone wanting to lift their own efforts to a new level; myself included.

So I have once again reviewed the list on Libraries Interact. Of the 58 bloggers listed under personal blogs of Aussie Librarians only 27 are still active (46.5%). Of the 66 Aussie Librarians on my list that were active in 2011, 46 bloggers have posted content in the last year; and only 36 in the last 4 months. (69% still active). Of the 14 blogs from overseas all are still active.

Here is my list of Aussie Librarians who are active bloggers:

1 A Chivas Regal Moment @CatyJ
2 Alyson in Library Land @alysondalby
3 A work in progress @fionareadersrr
4 Ballarat Library Chick @gemmas1980
5 Better than cheesecake @susannenewton
6 Biblio Turismo @Biblioturismo
7 Blog Fest at Tiffany’s @LibrarianCat
8 Book boy @bookboy
9 Bronwyn’s Library Blog @pivotalbooks
10 Connecting Librarian @michelleamclean
11 Digital Collaboration @SusanMyburgh
12 explodedlibrary.info @explodedlibrary
13 Feral Library Tales @kalgrl
14 From Melbin @malbooth
15 Girl in Landscape @wateryone
16 Hecuba’s Story @polyxena
17 HeyJudeOnline @heyjudeonline
18 Hmmm @Kridwyn
19 Inn0vate @petahopkins
20 It’s not about the books @HughRundle
21 JayGee Library Log @jaygee35
22 Jenelle Net @jenelle
23 Langridgep @langridgep
24 Librarian Hoi @librarianhoi
25 Librarians Matter @libsmatter
26 Library Dreamings @VesnaC
27 Macaronic @jobeaz
28 Opinions from an OPL @newgradlib
29 Pixelated Mushroom @pixelmushroom
30 Ramblibrarian @boycetrus
31 Ramblings from yet another Librarian @katejf
32 Read Watch Play Participate @ellenforsyth
33 reeling and writhing @mulberry_road
34 Ruminations @flexnib
35 Shallowreader’s Blog @VaVeros
36 Shelterit @shelterit
37 snail @snailx
38 Stained Glass Waterfall @warrencheetham
39 Sues Bent @suesbent
40 The Land of the Surprising Pun @librarianidol
41 There she goes @stephmcg
42 Thoughts and Reflections @shewgirl

And the list of Library bloggers from overseas:

1 Annoyed Librarian @LibraryJournal
2 Circulating Ideas @circideas
3 David Lee King @davidleeking
4 Free Range Librarian @kgs
5 Librarian by Day @bobbinewman
6 Librarian in Black @TheLib
7 Librarian Net @jessamyn
8 Phil Bradley @Philbradley
9 Self-plagarism is style @daveyp
10 Stephen’s Lighthouse @sabram
11 Swiss Army Librarian @SwissArmyLib
12 Tame the Web @mstephens7
13 The Shifted Librarian @shifted
14 Virtual Dave @rdlankes

P.S. This list is not complete in an online world that is constantly changing, but if you are an Australian Librarian who writes a blog and your blog is not listed here and you would like it to be, then please leave a comment below.

12 library podcasts

While I drive to and from work each day I listen to podcasts rather than listen to the radio. I have a few favourites that I download regularly and have mentioned previously on this blog.

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But I was curious to know how many podcasts there are about libraries or by librarians. These are the results of that inquiry; although not the definitive list. My focus is on content about libraries and not particularly books, authors or events. I also focused more on public and academic libraries and disregarded school libraries. These were all still active at the date of this blog post. My rating system judged the podcast on: relevance; content; sound quality; host performance; currency; and enjoyment factor. The results reflect an entirely personal opinion.

  1. Circulating Ideas by Steve Thomas (USA) ☺☺☺☺☺
  2. EdReach-LiTTech Show by EdReachUs (USA) ☺☺☺
  3. Free Library of Philadelphia by Free Library of Philadelphia (USA) ☺☺☺☺☺
  4. Infopeople by infotweets (USA) ☺☺
  5. Jisc Podcast by Jisc (UK) ☺☺☺
  6. Librarian on the edge by Terry Ballard (USA) ☺
  7. Library Chat by Corin Haines (NZ) ☺☺☺☺☺
  8. Nerdy Librarians by Michael and Mindy Perry (USA) ☺
  9. T is for training by baldgeekinmd (USA) ☺☺
  10. The Library Channel by ASU Libraries (USA) ☺☺☺☺
  11. TWIL (This Week in Libraries) by Eric and Jaap (Netherlands) ☺☺☺☺☺☺
  12. Whatever Mathers by Amy Mather (USA) ☺☺☺☺

You can find these podcasts and many more via the iTunes store.

I am currently reading Wool by Hugh Howey. I have just finished watching Series 2 of Game of Thrones on DVD. I am listening to The Wellness Guys podcast.