Blogging & Originality

March 19, 2007

Rachel Singer Gordon’s Oroberosity post over at The Liminal Librarian got me thinking today. Recently, people have been expressing the belief that the world of library bloggers is a bit too repetitive with little originality. Rachel Singer Gordon wrote that some respondents to her alternative career survey “find the well-known blog/bloggers to be too inbred, too repetitive, and too busy patting each other on the back.” Personally, I’ve never really noticed this – and I think that I subscribe to many of the big name blogs – The Shifted Librarian, librarian.net, Information Wants To Be Free, Free Range Librarian, Walt at Random and several others (FYI, I’m not entirely clear on the criteria for big name blogs). Yes, certainly when something like Twitter or the Library 2.0 group on Ning starts to get noticed, there are many posts (that can be somewhat repetitive) about it. However, I’ve always found this to be a good gauge about how something gets used or gets picked up. To me, it is also a good way to know when I should start paying attention to something (or at least look into it).

But more importantly, I want to ask – isn’t this repetitiveness an important part of the community building that blogging affords people? It seems to me that this is one of the ways that bloggers have conversations about things that are important to them or that interest them. I’m not terribly interested in Twitter. I’m fairly apathetic to IM, so I didn’t even want to play around with it. However, I took note of those who were playing with – those who liked it, those who didn’t and those who found some real uses for it. I admit that I didn’t read all of the posts about it, but I definitely don’t read all of the posts that show up in my aggregator either. Bottom line, I guess that I don’t particularly find the world of library blogs to be inbred or overly repetitive.  I find plenty of disagreement or disparity among big name bloggers – although certainly not on every subject.

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I’m Not A Leader, Nor Do I Want To Be One

March 16, 2007

Because really, I can’t handle the pressure of it all. I mentioned being way out of my comfort zone trying to pull distance students at SCSU together – and believe me that feeling hasn’t abated. I’ve had a somewhat queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach all week – and it is just a little bit worse this morning. Without a doubt, I expected there to be some fallout, disagreement and even backlash. Trying to bring together a bunch of disparate students who all have different wishes, conerns and problems can be difficult – and very tiring. Trying to do so in a positive and constructive manner is even more exhausting – and sadly, might be somewhat impossible. I’m a big fan of peace and harmony, and things are a long way from that state at the moment. Maybe shaking things up every once in a while is a good thing, but I’m generally not the one who does the shaking. And I usually find the shaken state to be incredibly uncomfortable. At least now, I remember why I tend to prefer being in the background. I’m willing to be it will be a long, long time before I stick my neck out again.


Don’t Forget About The Homework

March 15, 2007

Despite spending an inordinate amount of time on student empowerment issues, I do actually have homework to do – a great deal of it.

For ILS560 – College & University Libraries:
I have a benchmarking exercise due on March 25th. For this assignment, we are expected to choose an academic library and do a statistical comparison between the chosen library and some peer institutions. A large part of the assignment hinges upon the choice of college library and the justification of the peer institutions that we choose. I have started collecting data about the library I plan to profile and am in the process of deciding upon which peer institutions to use. The paper should include charts and diagrams and be no more than 8 pages. I think I can get a good portion done this weekend.

For ILS656 – Information Architecture:
We have one major project during the course of the semester – a redesign of a web site. I am working with one other person in my class to build a web site for a public library. So far, the majority of work that we have done has been analyzing and detailing the current site. It took a while to get approval on the projects from the Institutional Review Board – so we are just starting to get to the stage where we can talk to the people at the institution. The bottom line here??? There is lots and lots of work to be done over the next month and a half.


Working Together – It’s Good For You

March 15, 2007

On Monday evening, I put together (with lots of help of several of my wonderful colleagues from school) all of the concerns and suggestions that students from SCSU put together last weekend on a wiki that I specifically created for this purpose. I added a cover sheet and sent the email off to the ILS department chair. On Tuesday, the chair sent an email acknowledging receipt of documents that I had sent and explaining that she did intend to share the information with the ILS faculty at the meeting that afternoon. She also mentioned some suggested times that might work to get local students to meet with the faculty. One of the other faculty sent me an email on Wednesday with some positive feedback about the document. Given that I had an immediate feeling of “Oh-my-goodness-what-did-I-just-do?” once I emailed the document, this feedback calmed me down considerably.

After a bit of rest from the whole subject, I regrouped a bit. I sent an email to the student listserv today asking students if they were interested in a meeting with the faculty and if so, if one of the suggested meetings times that the chairperson suggested would work. This definitely sparked some serious debate. Distance students feel a bit left out (which I entirely understand and agree with). Others think that meeting with the faculty in late May or over the summer is too late – and that this will let too much time pass between now and then. I’m not entirely sure where all this will go, but I’m trying to give students the opportunity to speak out.

I’m still amazed at how many students have banded together to work together in this project. I’ve been in contact with more SCSU students over the past week than ever before. It has been exhausting in the extreme – and a tad bit stressful. Currently, I’m in the process of cleaning up the wiki that I created so that I can publish the URL to the student listserv. Hopefully, this will encourage continued participation. I’ve also created a new blog that I can use to keep everyone in the MLS program at SCSU informed. Boy, no wonder I’m exhausted!


It’s Been A Wild Week

March 15, 2007

Although the transition to Daylight Savings Time was rather smooth, everything else has been just a little bit off – nothing bad, just weird. People at work have been having strange connection issues that, of course, tend to disappear once I make an appearance. I have been having trouble adjusting to the time change. Additionally, I had to have blood-work done for which I had to fast for twelve hours. I’m not entirely sure that I even remember having blood drawn. The result, you ask? Low levels of potassium. I’m now downing orange juice, broccoli, potatoes and carrots like mad. The good news is that this seems like a reasonable explanation for recent bouts of listlessness and fatigue. Of course added to this, I have been working like mad on this project that I am working with at SCSU to coordinate the effort to get student concerns verbalized. And, now I need to focus on homework. I would love for things to return to normal, but it seems as if we are going to have a snow storm tomorrow. A bizarro end to a bizarro week!!


The World Didn’t End . . .

March 13, 2007

with the change in Daylight Savings Time – as I’m sure is self evident to most. We were well prepared at my library. Everything was patched so we didn’t experience any problems. I haven’t patched my laptop yet, but I suppose I will get around to it at some point, My home computer is fine. The bottom line? I guess the countless hours spent in preparation were worth it.

But, does anyone know of a patch for the human operating system? I need something to help me  adjust – and want to get up on time!!


It Is All Coming Together

March 12, 2007

I’m in the final stages of putting together the document that contains student concerns about online classes at SCSU for the department chair. It has been a rather time consuming task that has had some ups and downs. Some students have expressed concerns about anonymity – not wanting it to be known that they were involved in the process, others thought some of this might have been prompted by one event and others weren’t exactly sure what we were doing. I have been extremely anxious about student reactions to the wiki and incredibly careful to try and not make people uncomfortable (hopefully, I succeeded). Overall, everyone who contacted me with questions, however, was extremely polite and positive – even if they wanted out. But in the end, I worked with about 30 people – 28 of whom are current students and 2 that are recent graduates of the program.

Since I started in the program, I have keenly felt the lack of community for the students. To combat this feeling, I’ve been doing quite a bit to find some way to help students find a sense of camaraderie amidst the impersonal communication that can permeate the online world. Ironically, this entire discussion about these concerns has been a massive exercise in helping to build a sense of community among many of us in the program. I’ve been working more closely with a handful of students – those who took time to edit the wiki that I created, proof read the document that I wrote and took lots of time to say thank you. I would love to say thank you back to them.

Ultimately, whatever the outcome of our attempt to get our voices heard, I would have to say that this effort has been successful. We are working as a community to try and accomplish something positive. We have bonded. And, I have never felt more a part of SCSU than I do today.