It’s Time to Move Along

December 20, 2009

I have to say that my decision to start a blog back in September of 2005, when I started graduate school, was one of the most edifying parts of my educational experience. It gave me a venue to work though my school experiences as well as my thoughts on various topics relating to library science. I have definitely missed blogging. It seems to me that I was more attentive to different trends in the library world and more thoughtful about how they impacted the things I was studying and my library work.

However, I made a conscious choice when I began blogging to try to focus my comments on graduate school rather than on my work as a systems librarian. I didn’t always follow this internal mandate – after all, I my profession certainly colored my educational experiences and my opinions on various issues. The strictures that I had set became a problem for me when I got close to finishing school. I grew more and more frustrated with my experiences in a distance program and more focused on work because of things that were happening in my library (and in the greater institution). I had several issues that I wanted to write about, but I definitely started discarding the majority of my posts because they were becoming more and more removed from my educational experience. This trend only continued once I actually graduated.

The ironic thing is that I really wasn’t conscious of why I kept starting posts and then deleting them until quite recently. In August, I participated in the “Library Day in the Life” meme which caused me to seriously think about blogging and whether or not I wanted to continue. I definitely wanted to continue, but still found myself stymied. Shortly thereafter, I realized that I wasn’t able to blog under the original constraints that I had set for this blog as one about my library school experiences.

Ultimately, I decided that I needed to formally put this blog to bed. I figured it would be best for me to first decide if I wanted to start another blog or not. After much soul-searching, I decided that blogging had been extremely beneficial for me. It had allowed me to participate in larger library conversations. As an introvert who doesn’t feel very comfortable in large groups of unknown people, I don’t often participate in conferences or face-to-face gatherings. I found that this blog helped me become aware of myself and my role in the larger library world. I learned not only from my own blog musings, but from many others. Blogging was very good for me, and I do not want to return to the more insular library world in which I was living four to five years ago.

So, I have started a new blog in which I plan to focus a bit more on the issues that I face in my day-to-day life as a systems librarian. More can be found there.

(In case anyone wonders what prompted this:
I did make this decision in early November, but a very hectic work schedule and a recent two-week vacation in Sydney, Australia made my life a wee bit crazy. I admit that I was prompted to sit down this week after reading the latest edition of Walt Crawford’s January 2010 issue of Cites and Insights. And, I needed to procrastinate about Christmas shopping. This weekend’s blizzard helped some as well.  🙂 )

A Return to Blogging?

August 1, 2009

Over the past year, blogging has been a nonexistent priority in my life. The major reason for this is that school wiped me out – sapped me of almost everything that I had to give. Working as a systems librarian full-time and attending library school meant that almost every waking thought that I had was about libraries. I admit that I got to a point where I really needed to confine my library-related thoughts to my work schedule. I was afraid that I was coming to hate the word library. So once I finished my schooling and realized that I needed some space, I started looking for ways to take more time for me. Given the amount of time and effort that blogging takes, I decided to let it go. And you know, it did help.

Oddly enough, I have missed blogging – quite a bit. I can’t say that I am surprised by this fact. This was always a place where I worked through my own thoughts about library-related issues. When blogging, I found that I paid more attention to things that were happening in the library world. I thought about them more consciously – and I admit that I cared about them more. Since allowing myself to take a break, I have noticed that I pay less attention to things that are happening in the wider library sphere. I am much more narrowly focused in scope. This isn’t bad. It was probably a good thing. I think that I needed to narrow my focus in order to make it through the past year. The past two years at work have been particularly stressful, and I needed to reorient myself in order to find a better way to deal with the stress – and to give myself some time to figuring out what my place in the library world might be.

I believe that things have leveled out a bit (or I have just become used to how things now are). I’m starting to care more about what is going on in the greater library world. So will I return to blogging? I hope so. I have been thinking about it for the past six months. I dont’ think that I have quite figured out what my place in the library world definitively is, but I think that blogging can help. The Library Day in the Life meme was the perfect motivation. I do hope to continue blogging. I can’t promise anything (to those of you have asked), but I think it would do me good. We shall see!

The Cost of Brilliance

November 11, 2008

As a minor blogger, I do not get many email solicitations for product consideration. I like it this way. When it does happen, I read them and then quickly delete them. They often amuse me, and I guess that is worth something. But yesterday I received an email about the Chapeau Blog Awards that just confuses me. From their home page (can be found by searching for Chapeau Blog Awards):

Blog Brilliance!

To this, we tip our Chapeaus!

Blog Brilliance is, in fact, what Chapeau Blog Awards is exclusively devoted to honoring.

Brilliant Blogs must deliver upon audience expectations. From design and navigation, to business or consumer topics, the most effective blogs cater to how readers absorb and process information.

At the same time really great blogs are true to themselves and their own unique personalities. Some blogs challenge readers. Some invite opinion and other blogs simply share a story or follow a trend.

But which blogs are the best?  And who should decide which blogs are the best?

Chapeau Blog Awards intends to answer this question. And we won’t assemble an antiquated academy of high profile “Noggers” (Non-Bloggers—You first read it here!) to determine which blog is best.

We will do what bloggers do; ask the public sphere of blog readers. You. Us. Blog readers who truly know what a quality blog is.

It all sounds rather innocuous. We live in a society that loves to rank things, so I do find the overall concept all that odd. The bizarre part is that the solicitation is aimed at getting bloggers to nominate themselves for consideration. There are several categories into which one can enter a blog. The first group of categories are for blog audience. You decide what subject best fits your audience. Then you can enter your blog in up to five award areas such as best industry blog, best design and navigation, etc. Ultimately, the Chapeau Blog Awards will choose one blog to be the “Most Brilliant Blog”. The kicker is that there is an entry fee to nominate one’s blog: $195 if you enter before November 14th, $250 if you enter between the 15th of November and the 15th of December, or $275 between December 15th and January 30th. January 30 is the cut of to enter. The official nominees will be announced on February 15th. Blog readers get to vote and the results will be announced on May 5, 2009.

Seriously???? How can a group purport to be choosing the Most Brilliant Blog when it requires payment (and a significant one at that) for consideration? Has anyone actually given money to this organization? There is just so much wrong with this. The good news? I am willing to declare this blog The Most Brilliant Blog Ever for free – and I would be willing to declare your blog The Most Brilliant Blog Right Behind Mine for considerably less that $195. Let me know. I accept PayPal.

I do like the word “Noggers”.  I’ve never heard that before, but I think I will incorporate that into my daily vocabulary. Anyway, thanks for the blog fodder.

An Analysis of My Blog

November 10, 2008

Helene Blowers, over at LibraryBytes, wrote a post including links to several tools that analyze blogs. I couldn’t resist playing along – and found out some fascinating things about what my blog says about me.

The first tool is Typealyzer, which analyzes one’s writing to make a personality determination. My blog was labeled as INTP – The Thinkers. The website’s description of this label is as follows:

The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

This INTP result isn’t much of a surprise. I am definitely a thinker type – and I like to use my blog as a place to work through my thoughts about library-related subjects. I’m not sure I’m so keen on the arrogant, impatient and insensitive thing though – that isn’t a message that I would like to send to the world.

The second tool is GenderAnalyzer, a tool which tries to determine if a blog’s writer is male or female. The site determined that my site was gender neutral with a slight preference for a male. These results fascinate me. I am female, but have been told that I often think like a man. I guess I might tend to write like one too?????

The third tool is the Blog Readability Test. This site determines the reading level of one’s blog. I have done this one before, and the results have stayed the same – High School Reading Level. I’m good with that.

The last tool is the site that determines How Much is Your Blog Worth. This doesn’t mean much too me because my blog is worth much more to me than to anyone else. Also, I’m not sure what being worth $19,194.36 means. Actually, I realize one has to compare it to the worth of other blogs. Chances are I am not going to do that. However, if someone offered my $19,000 for this blog, I might just take it. 🙂

Now, back to my regularly scheduled Monday!

Blogging After School

July 10, 2008

Some people have asked (or commented) about my plans for this blog after finishing school. I will readily admit that my blogging frequency took a dramatic downward turn during the summer of 2007. Initially, I felt the need to cut back on blogging because I was incredibly unhappy in school. I had nothing positive to say and I was in danger of allowing the bad experiences to overshadow my entire school experience. Somewhere deep down, I had lost my ability to give a fair assessment of the reality of graduate school – I and sensed that if I continued to allow myself to give in to bad attitude, it would overshadow my remaining time at SCSU. Overall, I think this was the right move for me to make at the time. Blogging continued to be a lower priority for me, even when my school experiences started to become more positive. Despite this lag, I’m not necessarily ready to give up on it.

To this day, I am still surprised by how much I have come to enjoy blogging. I do not believe that I can’t continue to blog in this venue now that I am done with school – even though library school was the original impetus for this blog. I’ve lost the desire to justify blogging as an activity – to justify a reason for blogging or for not blogging. I think that I will continue to blog about library topics that interest me, when they interest me. I’m pretty sure that I will continue to be interested in many library-related topics for some time. Beyond that, I do have a definite to start writing some wrap up posts about my educational experience in the near future. Overall, I’m playing it by ear. It will be what it will be . . .

I Don’t Want To Know!

November 10, 2007

Earlier, I referred to today’s postings over at Information Wants to Be Free and Annoyed Librarian about the identity of the pseudonymous Annoyed Librarian. I chuckled quite a bit about both posts (or really the one post and its slightly edited twin). As the day wore on – and the comments on both posts rolled in, I got to thinking about anonymity, pseudonymity and blogging. This has been a much debated topic. It can be easy for people to hide behind anonymity and use it as a tool to engage in negative behaviors. However, it can be necessary and even important in many circumstances. I thoroughly enjoy the Annoyed Librarian’s take. She often annoys me, sometimes makes me laugh, but always makes me think and rethink my own opinions about particular topics. She challenges me to challenge my own beliefs.

With this in mind, I started thinking about the overall impact of the Annoyed Librarian. I realized today that one of the reasons that I have never really speculated about the AL is because I do not want to know her identity – I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW! She is an effective voice because of her pseudonymity. In a very weird sort of way, I think that knowing her identity could possibly ruin her credibility. It could essentially take away the punch that AL packs – and that would be a shame. So, I’m going to allow myself to bask in the possible ambiguity of today’s events. That is how I want to see it.

On an entirely different subject, this is my third post today and fifth in three days. I’m guessing the blogger’s block has moved on to haunt someone else.

I’m Still Suffering From Blogger’s Block

October 30, 2007

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the fact that I was suffering from blogger’s block. I was really interested in writing. I started between 15 and 20 different posts, had several posts that I wanted to comment on, but was just not able to put together any coherent thoughts. I deleted all of the drafts that I started. Since then, I’ve been steadily losing interest. I’m hoping this is normal – that blogging is something that should really have its ups and downs – much like other things in life.

Now, having said that, I have to add that right now I put the blame on this lack of desire squarely on the shoulders of baseball – and in particular the Boston Red Sox. Although I hope today’s Rolling Rally in Boston was wonderful (and it is an absolutely beautiful day for such an event), the trip to the playoffs has decimated my mental state. Since the Red Sox entered the playoffs, sleep has been fairly non-existent. The World Series in particular was gruesome. I’m quite thankful for my sanity that it only lasted 4 games. Saturday night’s game – at 4hrs and 19 mns – ended just before 1AM. Yikes! I turn into a pumpkin at about 10PM. Fortunately, I didn’t have to work on Sunday. However, I was a mess on Monday – and would seriously have done almost anything to be able to stay in bed. As a fan, I’m in a state of euphoria that the Sox managed to win their second series in 4 years – it is a  too bad that I’m too tired to actually enjoy it.

This Might Be The Cure

October 7, 2007

I actually had to get myself out of a nice, relaxing bath tonight in order to write this post. For some reason, I kept mulling over this post while I should have been emptying my mind. Since my last post about my blogger’s block, I have deliberately stayed away from blogging. I found that trying to write a blog post was driving me nuts. I decided that inspiration would come when it wanted, not when I wanted. If anyone with any type of divine power is listening to me, I would prefer inspiration wait until I have finished my bath next time.

Anyway, Meredith Farkas is responding to a post written by Dorothea Salo titled Training-Wheels Culture – and to some responses by other bloggers. I have to admit that I was immediately bothered by Dorothea Salo’s original post. I responded with my own post – one with which I am not overly happy and wished I hadn’t written. This isn’t because I disagree with what I wrote, but because I don’t think that I spent the time to put together a coherent post (I still don’t understand how cataloging figures in here). Hopefully, this one will better capture what I want to say – hope springs eternal!

The problem being discussed here is people who work in libraries who seem to be unwilling to try and figure out many technical problems on their own. Rather than trying to read the screen, look up the answer or try, they prefer to ask someone to help – hence the “training-wheels culture” moniker. As I mentioned before, I have found myself irritated by a question to which I believed the asker should have known the answer. I have helped people with simple problems that I may not have believed to be worth the time that I spent answering them. But in my years offering technical support to library staff, I have come to realize that we have a real problem in this area. Blaming library staff for their inefficiency or their need to cling to a “training-wheels culture” is not productive – nor do I believe it is a solution to help solve the problem at hand.

One of the things that I really like about Meredith’s post is the fact that she is asking questions about this. She writes:

I really want to understand what is at the root of this training-wheels culture, because we can’t combat it until we understand the cause(s). What do you think it is? Cultural? Laziness? Lack of interest? A difference in learning styles?

I firmly agree with Meredith that we need to understand what is happening here.  Are people afraid of technology? Are people discouraged from trying to figure things out? Are those of us who are making judgements about what other people should be able to do on their own wrong? There are so many potential explanations, and yet, technophiles seem to want to blame people for not being technologically savvy. Is this really fair?

In my experience, people are not encouraged to play, to try new things, or to figure things out on their own. As technology becomes more pervasive and more complicated, IT departments are desperate to prevent users from being able to cause major disruptions. They are employing security software, firewall rules, etc. in order to prevent users from doing damage. Software manufacturers are following suit by locking down operating systems, software packages, etc. Certain programs actually require certain screen resolutions – using ones that make the icons as small as possible (why is this???). People are discouraged from doing things that may cause problems or may go against the norm – and are thus, fearful of getting viruses, corrupting their computers or making a move without tech support. Can you blame them?

We have a big problem. There is a digital divide in libraries – staff who understand and adapt to technology and staff who do not (the same can be said of patrons – but that is another story). We can get as frustrated as we want with this, but that is not productive. We are not going to change people’s behaviors by complaining or by demeaning them. There has to be a better way.

I Think I Have Blogger’s Block

October 1, 2007

Of late, I have been finding it extremely difficult to put any coherent thoughts together to form a blog post. I have started so many blog posts, only to decide that my thoughts were all garbled messes with little worth. I have deleted most posts that I have started over the past several weeks. And, I have spent countless hours staring at a blank WordPress editor screen. It has been quite disconcerting. It isn’t that life has gotten in the way, that school has gotten in the way or that I didn’t want to write.

One of the biggest problems is that I’m feeling extremely unsettled about school – which has traditionally been my primary motivator for blogging. I’m generally unhappy about my school experience, am reluctant to allow myself free reign to vent about my frustrations and am then left with nothing significant about which to write. Nothing specific has happened. I have had some recent contact with students who have echoed some of the same frustrations that I have experienced. This makes me sad – and makes me believe that the school, the ILS department, the administration and even the students are not able to get together to address any issues at this point. I just want to be done – be at a point where I can put this entire experience behind me.

I need to find another motivation for blogging. I need to be thinking beyond school. I will be in school until at least early May of 2008, but I can’t allow myself to be in a blue funk until then. I need to focus on the positive, to remember the good experiences at school, and to find motivation elsewhere. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be easy.

Tags and Categories

September 22, 2007

Categorizing blog posts can be tricky, especially in the long term. Obviously, the longer that one blogs, the greater potential for the number of categories to grow to unmanageable proportions. Just recently, I made myself sit down and weed my category list down significantly. So, I was thrilled with WordPress’ announcement yesterday that they had added tags in addition to categories. This will make it much easier to resist the temptation to add extraneous categories – and as such, keep category lists meaningful.