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.

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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.


Mucked Up Theme

September 12, 2007

My WordPress theme (contempt) seems to be a bit mucked up today. There is white space (enormous chunks of white space in my opinion) on either side of my blog. I find it unappealing to look at – and distracting. I hope it returns to normal soon. Yuck!


All About Blogging

September 8, 2007

Earlier this week, Meredith Farkas created a survey to ask people to name their three favorite library-related blogs. In part, this survey is an addendum to her earlier survey of the biblioblogosphere. I think the results will be quite interesting, especially in light of the recent OEDb Top 25 Librarian Bloggers list. In one of her followup posts, Meredith addressed a comment that was critical of the survey. In that same post, she asks her readers “What is your goal for blogging? How do you measure the success of your blog?” While I did leave a comment on this post, I thought that I needed a bit more time – and space – to address these questions.

What is my goal for blogging?

This is a tough question to answer. I think that I have more than one goal and I know that they change over time. My blog is very different than it was when I started it two years ago. I initially envisioned this blog as a way to annotate my library school assignments. It worked fine for that purpose. However, I quickly discovered that such a narrow focus was extremely limiting – and more importantly, was rather boring (I’m sure it was boring to any readers, but I am specifically saying that the topic bored me). Once I discovered how many library-related blogs were out there, I was hooked. Reading and enjoying other blogs gave me more confidence to play a bit and expand my horizons. Currently, library school and how library school is impacting my thoughts and beliefs about librarianship are my major foci. However, I do not limit myself to these topics. This blog is also a venue for me to think about, formulate and discuss any and all library-related thoughts that hold some importance to me. It has become on of the most important parts of my library education and one of the most important tools for my professional development. It has become way more than I every expected to be.

I think it is important to note that I blog for myself. I did not start this blog to get readers or to influence others. I never read any of those articles about how to expand one’s readership or increase one’s hit count. I simply continued to write about what was important or interesting to me. The establishment of a library community is another story. I have been amazed at the community that has formed around blogging amongst the library community – and at the extent to which I have become involved in it.

How do you measure the success of your blog?

I guess the quick and easy answer is that I don’t consciously do this. I blog for myself. It took me a while to get comfortable with the medium, but once I did I found that I was hooked. I have been utterly and truly amazed that others would want to read anything that I have to say. I feel as if I have found a good niche and a voice in the blogosphere. This means that this blog is successful to me. I do not aspire to have a massive readership or thousands of visits a day. I don’t need to be on anyone’s list of top library-related blogs. I’ve gotten comfortable with my blog, with its readership and with those people that I have developed relationships. It has been a wonderful and extremely successful experience for me.


It’s Been Two Years Already?

September 6, 2007

On one hand, it doesn’t seem as if I have been blogging for two years. On the other hand, I feel as if I have been in library school FOREVER (and I started this blog during the first week of my first class). Wow! I’m not entirely sure that I expected to actually enjoy blogging. I’m pretty sure that I thought it would just be an experiment to learn about blogging basics and that I would have had enough by the end of my first semester of library school. It certainly never crossed my mind that blogging might be one of the most edifying parts of my education – even though it has no real affiliation with my coursework at Southern Connecticut State University.

Of course, the best news is that by the end of year three, I will be done (barring any major disasters). I’m not sure what that will mean for my blog. I suspect it won’t mean much, but one never knows.

Happy Second Blogoversary to me!


Happy Blog Day 2007

August 31, 2007

It is Blog Day again. Here is a list of five blogs that are new to me over the past year – and that I now read assiduously.

  • Gather No Dust -Jeff Scott is a library manager who blogs. He blogs quite a bit about technology and its impact on library staff – a topic which I think needs more attention.
  • nirak.net – Karin Dalziel is a fellow LIS student. I thoroughly enjoy reading her blog – she always reminds me that I’m not alone in my struggles in graduate school.
  • The Vital Library – Martha Hardy is another LIS student. I often get many web quizzes from her – and that makes me happy. 🙂
  • Midnight Run – Joe Fox is also an LIS student in an online program at San Jose State University. He posts quite a bit about his experience in school.
  • Circ and Serve – Mary Carmen Chimato is the head of access and delivery services at a large academic library. She add a unique voice to the world of library blogs – one that I always enjoy reading.