Keep it secret, keep it safe

The Librarian In Black has responded to Dorothea Salo’s response to the constant question about whether or not library blogs belong on librarian resumes. The answer so far? There is no answer. Imagine that. A blurry line.

As someone who walks that blurry, shifting, man-eating line between “it’s about librarianship, and I have something to say, so I’ll blog it as a contribution to the literature” and “it’s about the daily life of my library so I can’t talk about it in public even if it might help someone to have a real example”, color me unsurprised.

I’m with the LiB, who writes,

And therein lies what I see as a problem with the biblioblogosphere. I am by no means the first person to point this out, but it is a shame that those of us working at real life libraries cannot or will not share our work experiences out of fear of reprisals. Because of this, we do not see many of the real life problems and opportunities facing our libraries. We see the happy-ending projects in our libraries reflected in the biblioblogosphere (‘cuz we’re allowed to blog about smiley face things without getting screamed at). But anything that would induce a “WTF?” response from the blogger in his/her work environment cannot see the light of day online.

This blog was created for three reasons.

  1. I love to write, and I want to contribute.
  2. Because our profession is not ready for full disclosure from its professionals, I needed to separate the personal and the private.
  3. I was told by someone in the position to do so that librarians who blogged with full attribution would not be hired by that library.

Because of #3, this is, in fact, an act of rebellion. What’s the URL? My name. Is my name common? Hell no. Did I just swear in a blog about libraries that has my name on it? Sort of. (I could do worse. Note the link to Monty Python in yesterday’s post, then extrapolate.) Why am I rebelling? Because I don’t like the attitude that Dorothea references when she writes “And when you get in trouble, no one will defend you. You shoulda known better, mate. It’s the Internet, after all.” Yep. It’s the internet. It’s the New World Of Online Communication. Get over it, and defend yourself against the people who can’t get over it. Rewrite the profession, if you have to. Stand up for yourself, fer goddsake.

So. Will I be listing this on my CV when next I apply for a job? No. But I know employers google candidates, and I want this face to come up first, see #2. For LOLcats and scifi geekery and knitting photos, you’ll have to find my anonymous, private face, which also isn’t on my CV. And anyone who finds this and doesn’t like what’s here… well, then, I guess they didn’t like me, very much. Good to know in advance.

And I don’t write about the day-to-day, or the failures, or the internal staff issues. And, like Dorothea and the LiB, I think that’s a shame. Because my experiences as a young manager, as a collections librarian, as a woman looking to be a leader in academia… they might be useful to my peers. For now, though, out of fear of reprisal, we’ll all just have to read between the lines.

9 thoughts on “Keep it secret, keep it safe

  1. Cat.

    I’m still puzzling over what it was … uh … elsewhere … that was so touchy. I can’t remember a single time you dinged anyone with whom you worked or your work place. That guy..what a dork. There. I said it. JPRU did not say it. Apparently professionals aren’t supposed to have strong opinions, hobbies, lives outside of work, and/or the capacity, willingness, a/o intelligence to swear creatively as necessary.

    Whatevah!

    But yeah, my name isn’t on my blog. Wonder why.

  2. The Husband

    I think the paradigm of what is commonly classed as “young v. old” isn’t inherent to just librarianship. I see strong forthrightness submerged/corrupted as newbies begin acclimatizing to the systems of thought and behavior maintained by their superiors across the spectrum of jobs and responsibilities. (Just look at the ‘change’ in John McCain from Daily Show He’s-a-republican-that-I-could-vote-for to ..well.. what he is now. The presidential image twsiter game mandated his strange contortions.)

    Everyone models behavior. Both in the learning sense and the teaching sense. At the very very least, professional blogging utilizes the ubiquitous nature of the Internet to assure isolated “radical” librarians that they aren’t alone. That even though they can’t reach out and get lunch with a like-minded fellow, they are part of a broader community– even if their immediate colleagues are still sorting the card catalog and winding their pocketwatches. Communication leads to community, community leads to change.

    And generally speaking, I fully support rebellion against the traditions and being “normal” as a priority. There’s plenty of codified “normal” in librarianship already. We have controlled language descriptors. We have anagrams. We have modes of professional dress. We have systems of presentation. We have faculty-like responsibilities. We engage in business-model hoop jumping*. There’s plenty of standardizing systems already/forever in place. The fact that blogging is controversial illustrates two points clearly: 1) Just how change shellshocked we’ve become as a profession. 2) How we want to know/serve our constituents juuust enough to keep our usage statistics up without having to put out the effort to fully understand them. How afraid we are of our users. It makes me actively wonder whether or not I’m coming back to the profession.

    I just wonder what it is the generation of librarians behind us will be fighting us about. Hopefully, we’ll remember these lessons when it (finally) becomes our turn to lead the profession.

    * AN old argument about mission statements, folks. You really don’t want to know more than that. 😉

  3. thedonofpages

    Thank goodness I am not a librarian. I have worked as a “temp” page for many years. Yes, I think librarians should conform to the public’s expectations. But of course, behind the false front are some uglies you shouldn’t talk about. Since libraries are not my career, I can sometimes say and do things no librarian should dare. Improvement starts with admitting to problems, and this messenger is too low on the totem pole to be worth killing. I wonder if that applies to the blogworld as well.

  4. Jason Griffey

    I decided during my last CV update to not only list my blog (which has been on my CV for a year or so) but to list my ClaimID (www.claimid.com/griffey) as well, as a supplement to my activities.

    The CV is quickly becoming the same relic that print publications are. Which would you trust more in a hiring process…the CV, or a google search of the applicant?

    😛

  5. haus

    Many of us work in individual/unique/odd/solitary positions and have no colleagues to share with on a daily basis — there isn’t really anyone to “think out loud” with. Being able to blog about work issues in some detail, without fear of reprisal, would help me be a better manager and librarian, and I’m about as radical as a turnip. What’s wrong with being frustrated, screwing up, hitting a wall, or melting down? Evidently nothing, as long as you never admit to it.

    I stopped blogging about work entirely because I had an employee who threw something I’d written back in my face, accusing me of making a private conversation public. I wasn’t writing about her — she read between the lines and read them wrong. I didn’t quote her or say anything derogatory. It was ok for her behave in a completely unprofessional and bullying manner in my office, but not ok for me to write in a public forum about my frustrations as a manager.

    maybe our profession’s just a lot more hypocritical than I want to admit

  6. Jenica

    Husband Mine — I’m just WAITING for the day the next generation tells us we’re stuffy old coots. WAITING.

    Griffey, Having been on several hiring committees where the CV was brilliant and the interview was dismal — for reasons of personality, philosophy, and tone — I’d much rather see both. Google can tell you things about the person that the CV never will. Which is why I don’t want to disappear off the web. I’m a cool person, and you should want to work with me — but only if it’s a good fit. Maybe the web can indicate that fit.

    And, Haus, … Yeah. The more communication venues we have, the more people will read between the lines to find their own insecurities. And wouldn’t it be nice if we could publicly ask for help or admit to failures so that we could all learn?

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