Sunday, February 26, 2006

Library blogging

One of my main inspirations in the world of library blogging is CW and her Ruminations blog. So when she said she was going to do a survey of librarian bloggers I just had to take part. At first I was going to just email the answers. Then I thought, why not blog it? So here goes.

Where do you work?

I work at Southampton Solent University, on the south coast of England. Some people may know it better as Southampton Institute - we only got university title last year (an excuse for many celebrations!)

What's your job title?

Information Librarian (Business Management)

What are your main responsibilities?

  • Selecting and organising access to business information resources (specifically for the subject areas of management, human resources management, marketing, advertising and public relations)
  • Providing help and advice on making the best use of these resources (via enquiry desk services, group training sessions, one-to-one research workshops, leaflets, webpages and anything else I can think of!)
  • Liaising with academic staff to make sure we're providing the right resources for existing courses and are involved in plans for new courses.
  • Contributing to the overall information team effort with special responsibility for induction and ebooks. I've also got an interest in library innovations (e.g. blogs) I think this dates from a few years ago when I asked to go on a creative thinking course and they let me. I've not been quite the same since, either in or out of work!

    How long have you been blogging?

    Since June 2005

    How did you begin blogging?

    I'd read a bit about blogs, and thought there was potential in them, so I decided that the best way to find out what they were good for would be to set one up on a trial basis. In June 2005 I set up ML107 which is my work/professional blog. In July 2005 I added Cabbage Soup for my writing group, then in October 2005 I started miso soup for my daily haiku. In February 2006 another writer set up ukku spring haiku to celebrate the coming of spring and I'm now a co-moderator of that group blog. I seem to be getting carried away!

    What do you blog about?

    This is more of a problem on my work blog than on my writing blogs as I'm not too sure who - if anyone - reads it, so I'm not sure what I should be blogging about. (On my writing blogs I don't mind/care who reads it - it's just me rambling for my own amusement.) Being unofficial and experimental it has no promotion, other than when I mention it in my training sessions, and only one link - from my profile page under staff contacts.

    So far I've tended to blog about courses I've been on, new books and other resources that have come in, databases or reference books I think need a bit more promoting, current issues generally, and things that I am reading or thinking about at work. It's mostly work related, but a few more personal comments creep in occasionally. I think professional blogs need a certain amount of personal content to make them engaging and readable, but obviously not so much that they turn into purely personal journals.

    Why do you continue to blog?

    It appeals to me as a way of 'thinking aloud' with the advantage of having an automatic archive of past thoughts to refer back to.

    I'm interested in writing and I don't see a major difference between creative writing and professional writing. I've had articles published in poetry magazines and I was joint author of one article published in a peer-reviewed librarianship journal (Aslib Proceedings) and the writing process was not all that different, although obviously each have their own styles and conventions that you have to be aware of.

    My blogs are very much writing practice. I try to write something, somewhere, every day that I'm not ashamed to make public.

    Would you agree that blogging has improved your professional practice?

    It certainly encourages timely reflection. For example, when I get back from a course or conference I don't wait for a meeting to report back to colleagues, I blog it right away while the ideas are still fresh in my mind. I then have the blog entry to refer back to if I want to do a more formal presentation.

    Being involved in the blogosphere has made me feel more in touch with the professional community, internationally. It's an excellent way of keeping up with current issues - at the moment the whole Web 2.0/Library 2.0 debate in particular. It takes much longer for discussion of this type of topic to filter through to print publication. It's rather like being able to drop in on the chatty bits of a conference for a few minutes every day.

    Basically its all about communication, which I think is a good thing, although I have some sympathy with those who groan at the thought of yet more communication! Since I've been using Bloglines I've found it a lot easier to manage the growing the number of blogs I like to keep an eye on, without it taking up too much time.

    May I quote your answers for publication?

    One of my secret ambitions is to be quoted. (Oops... )

    If yes, how would you like the quotes attributed?

    I'm happy to be attributed by my real name and blog URLs.

    May I email you again for more discussion/clarification?


    Oh, and, thanks for encouraging me write a longer blog entry than usual, I'm such a minimalist my entries are usually short-short and I need all the practice I can get at longer pieces.

    It's interesting, on reflection, that I wrote this entry on a Sunday (although I've edited it a bit and am posting it on Monday.) I'm still a little wary of spending much work time on blogging, even though, as I said earlier, I do feel it's contributing to my professional development. This is an issue I think I need to reflect on some more. So thanks for bringing that to light too!
  • 1 comment:

    CW said...

    Thank you for your thoughtful response and for your kind words, Alison. I'm glad my request has 'delurked' you and look forward to continuing our conversation in the blogosphere! :)

    I'll be back in touch after I've had a bit of time to ruminate on all the responses and decided if I want to ask more questions of all the respondents. (I'm a bit overwhelmed at how helpful librarian bloggers are, actually!)