July 14, 2010

Why I Blog

This post, like many others, has been brewing in my head (and on several scraps of electronic paper) for a while, and seeing that one of my favorite bloggers posted a "My Life as a Blogger" entry recently was just the motivation I needed to finally put this together.

Last night I kept mentioning my blog while addressing a group of library school students at my alma mater. There was a time when I wouldn't have done that, for fear of what someone would find here. There was even a time when I deleted the whole thing (after creating copious archive files of everything from the entry links to the ‘DC Speak’ list), but Blogger must be used to people doing that and then changing their minds because reactivating it months later was frighteningly easy.

Part of my trepidation in keeping it going is that when I started, I felt certain that my position was an "embedded librarian" position, and before I determined that maybe it's not, I snatched up this blog address as well as the matching username in del.icio.us. So I am always a little embarrassed about the blog address and the questions it invites. Furthermore, there are lingering suspicions in my mind along the lines of what one of JD Roth’s friends said in the linked entry above:
  • "Weblogs are narcissistic.
  • Weblogs make a mess of Google’s search results.
  • Bloggers present a biased view of their world." (original post)
Well…yes, yes, and yes.

This is truly a self-centered activity, but centering is inherently good, and no one is going to do it for me. Therefore, look at your blog as “self-centered” in the best possible use of the phrase. Blogging helps me figure out what I have been working on, how to synthesize it into a decent piece of writing, how to explain it to readers outside my content area, and what it means for the field. As for it making a mess of search results, well there are ways to control for that but more importantly, if you wanted to learn about solo librarianship, wouldn’t you like to read some solo librarians’ blogs? And as for the third objection, if I have a biased view of my world, it is there whether or not I blog about it. Blogging is an opportunity to identify the elements of that worldview that may be inhibiting my work, and inviting comments is a way to seek candid contributions from others.

Keeping this blog going is also a way to take a weekly deep breath about my job and figure out where I’ve been and where I’m headed, especially if I have time to go back over some of the old entries. Maybe I will discover that I have encountered the same challenges before and remember how I resolved them. Maybe I will find renewed motivation, or at least scratch my head and wonder why I sounded so hopeful in all those early entries. Maybe I will dust off my librarian adventurer boots and jump in anew and refreshed.

As for how to do it, here are my guiding principles:
  • Imagine an audience.
  • Put some thought into it.
  • Don't complain.
  • Read other blogs and learn from them.
In those early hopeful days, I used to close each entry with “Keep smiling,” but now I’d like to say, to myself and my readers, Keep blogging.

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