13 Jun

does anybody actually care? blogging and professional discourse

I’ve spent the first couple of weeks of June thinking and blogging about professional discourse and whether we are missing something as a result of a significant downturn in blogging on topics related to the library and information professions. (I think we are.)

The response has been… interesting. Some people have responded on their own blogs to say yes, they would be keen to contribute to a collaborative blog on professional issues. Others have retweeted tweets about my posts, suggesting there’s some interest. A very few people have commented on any of my posts.

Today I planned to share a sign up form to gather together a group of people who might be interested in contributing to a collaborative blog designed to ramp up informal professional discourse. But I’m increasingly thinking that maybe I’m out on a limb here, and that there aren’t many others who share my concerns.

noun_49812So instead, I want to ask you: do you care?

Do you care about robust professional discourse? As a professional, does it matter to you? (It’s okay if it doesn’t. This isn’t about judgement, but about me understanding whether there’s a need for this or whether I’m talking crap.)

What do you see as your role in professional conversations?

Are you a reader, consumer, thinker who is content to watch, observe, consider without getting involved? Are you a reader, consumer, thinker who would like to get involved but is hesitant to for some reason? (And what is the reason?)

Do you want to provoke conversation? Do you want to be a conversation starter? Do you want to share ideas?

Do you want to actively participate in discussions that other people start?

Would you be likely to comment on posts?

Would you even read them?

Are there professional topics that get you fired up? What are they? What do you care about? Are you prepared to put your money (or your time) where your mouth is and contribute to conversations on these topics?

I still wholeheartedly believe that blogging is not dead, but maybe professional blogging in the LIS space *is* dead, and maybe I should leave well enough alone.

What do you think? Do we care? Do *you* care? Do your colleagues care? Or should I just get down off this soap box?

#blogjune 13/30

21 thoughts on “does anybody actually care? blogging and professional discourse

  1. I care. I think you need to stay up on the soap box. As a grad not *really* working in the profession though I feel hesitant to get publicly involved as I feel like a bit of an imposter. I do love to follow, read and consider the professional conversations of others.
    I’ve been thinking a lot about whether blogging is dead as a medium too just generally. I’m still undecided.

    • I think you are working in the profession, or one very closely aligned with it, and I think you earned your right to engage in professional dialogue by getting yourself a degree in the field. Actually, I think *anyone* has the right to get involved in the dialogue if they want to. Sometimes challenges that come from outside our sphere are the most effective ones. Roll up your sleeves and dig in I say!

  2. I think Wendy touches on the important point of imposter syndrome. I can think of many times when I have wanted to respond to a blog post but didn’t feel qualified or experienced enough to do so. Besides, I thought, who would care what I have to say? The idea of blogging was vetoed on the basis of those thoughts as well. However, in the interest of drumming up and maintaining a healthy professional discourse, I think it’s time for us to move past the fear or uncomfortable feeling and start to share our views with the wider profession, which is a community that can support and encourage different ways of thinking and offer constructive criticism in thoughtful ways where required. And collaborative blogging seems a great way for beginner bloggers to kickstart.

    • Bloody imposter syndrome. It has a lot to answer for. I am feeling quite the imposter at the moment, trying to finish this thesis and with some change that’s happening around me. I might write about it more generally this week.

      But in terms of having a contribution to make: you’ve got one. I’ve worked with you. I know how your brain works. And I want to know what’s inside it.

      So maybe we do kick this collaborative blog thing off, and I hope you’ll join in.

  3. Hi Kate – I’ve been mulling this over for the few days since you raised the collaborative blogging idea. I think it’s a great idea and I’d be happy to discuss it further. I do care about spaces in which librarians can discuss issues that are important to us as a profession. Between the often ephemeral conference presentation at one end and the formal journal article at the other, there’s seems to be a need for well written pieces from LIS academics and practitioners that ask questions, document current practices, and provide a means for people to connect with each other. Some of my favourite group blogs (e.g. In the Library with the Lead Pipe) fit into this niche and offer something that I don’t believe can be found elsewhere.

    I like to write and read and engage as a professional, and the only thing holding me back is time; I know that I am not alone in this. If I were to put time into this I’d probably want to see a high quality product being aimed for: would producing something that had some kind of editorial or review processes in place be setting the bar unrealistically high? Having a group of people that actively sought articles on topics of interest or helped new authors to work a good idea up into a really good article could be something worth exploring. I know that I would be more likely to stick to deadlines and meet goals if I felt like I’d be letting a group down, rather than just myself 🙂

    In terms of content and style I’d like to see reports back from events that go a bit deeper than live tweeting in pulling out overall themes and implications. Responses to some of the big reports that come out (Horizon Report and LITA Tech Trends) from a local perspective could be fun. I’d also like to see pieces that present the viewpoint of more than one person, e.g. panel-style or group interviews, conversations, and point-counterpoint. There should always be a place for opinion pieces but providing a forum for more evidence-based work that won’t make it to the peer-reviewed literature would be great. I’ve seen some amazing conference posters in the last year on topics that might not warrant a 5,000 word article but would make a fantastic 1,500 word blog post. I’d love to see some more quantitative data journalism type stuff being done too, having someone drilling into the CAUL statistics or seeing what’s happening in librarianship demographically. I don’t know if any of this is realistic or of interest to others though!

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment Sam.

      I think if we do this, we do need to go for quality and substance. I think Libraries Interact probably died a natural death because the newsy stuff was surfacing elsewhere. But I think there is a real need for stuff with substance, like In the Library with the Lead Pipe, or the type of articles you see at The Conversation. I can’t say I’d personally be aiming to achieve the length or depth that In the Library with the Lead Pipe posts do (for that depth of commentary, I’d be looking to get a tick on my publications list – i.e. it would need to be in a ranked journal), but I think there is a place for longer commentary that’s good quality.

      I also want to hear about what people are doing, case study style. I want to know about that awesome children’s program that Library X is offering, and how else would I find out about it, if not on this kind of blog? And I want to know about the thinks people like *you* are doing.

      Your suggestions for topics and types of posts are great. A mix of opinion and evidence-based content, content that contextualises ideas and issues for an Australian audience, and yes, content that digs into datasets that exist around the place and pulls out talking points. So many possibilities!

      It could also be a space to tease out ideas that might turn into research projects or academic articles.

      I agree, there would need to be some kind of editorial process and an editorial committee. Mentoring is a great idea too.

      I’ll post a call for interested people to get involved in a discussion in the next few days, and hope I’ll see your name on the list 🙂

  4. Pingback: Blogging and being a node in conversation » Librarians Matter

  5. Hi Kate,

    Love to be involved in something like this. I have a proven track record in boring my coworkers to death in my enthusiasm for Marc-hacking, big data, better marketing programs, recommendation algorithms, international library collabos etc so it’d be terrific to share some of this nonsense with others who aren’t sick of my newbie enthusiasm.

  6. Pingback: Professional blogging and the imposter syndrome » Librarians Matter

  7. I agree with many of the sentiments expressed here, both in the post and the comments.
    As a current LIS student who is also working in the profession, time is a very tight commodity. It would be great to have the time to delve into the issues of the day and write on length about them. But time currently does prevent this. I do enjoy reading what other people have to say on such matters and a collaborative space is something I would love to be involved in as , most importantly, it would be much easier to commit to.

    • I know the time is tight feeling very well. I think, though, that once you’re actually doing it, you’ll be amazed at how much time you can find. I’m completely overcommitted and overworked, but this month, I’ve managed to find time to blog and not only that, finding time to blog has made me rationalise other things I do and it has given me lots of personal satisfaction.

      Plus, think about multipurpose content. I encourage my students to take their assessment work and turn it into journal articles. Or at least to put it into their professional portfolio. Next time you write an assignment, look at the content from an alternative perspective. You’ve done all the work on formulating ideas and arguments. How can you get extra traction out of it? I think almost any assignment could be spun into a blog post.

  8. Pingback: some corrections on hugh’s ‘golden age of library blogging post’ | when the moon shines

  9. I’m interested. I’m unsure about blogging. I used to use LJ, years ago and more recently started a professional blog and then got cold feet. I was worried about the potential lack of anonymity if I was talking about stuff at work.

    I’ve just started a job as a school librarian at a private school after working in the public libraries before. I don’t have an LIS degree (English & PGCE instead) and a marketing background. I guess I am slightly overwhelmed by all the things I want to know.

    This may improve over time but currently I’m reading other people’s opinions and responding to them rather than having totally formulated opinions myself except for about the obvious.

    • That is a great place to start Alison! It’s how I suggest my students start. But also, there’s nothing wrong with thinking out loud. Most of what I blog is half formed thoughts. I use writing as a sense-making process, to work out what my opinions are, and how I feel about things. I did a lot of my professional identity formulation through blogging, and my opinions and interests have changed over the years and that is perfectly ok.

      Stay tuned for updates on collaborative blogging!

  10. Pingback: collaborative blogging is go! (and some tough love) | when the moon shines

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *