Library Juice pooh poohs blogs

I enjoy Rory Litwin’s Library Juice, a one-of-a-kind, bi-weekly
newsletter that focuses on progressive issues in librarianship,
especially intellectual freedom.  It’s wonderful reading and Rory
is much to be praised for his time and ingenuity.  The following
paragraph  made me pause, however:

“… so many people, librarians included, have started
their own blogs for no discernible reason and through blogs have
renewed their irrational excitement about the Web in general.  It
appears to me that in most cases where someone has started a blog that
is useful, it would be more useful if it were not a blog but a website
with a different structure.  I say this because if there is one
thing that is essential about blogs, that they all have in common, it
is not the ease of updating them, not RSS feeds, not the ability to
post comments, and not the capability of having a community of users
add content. It is the chronological structure.  Many people are
now using the blog format where a chronological organization is not
appropriate to the content they are putting up, for no other reason
than that blogs are hot and there are services supporting them.
 This is irrational.  I feel that librarians should be a
little more mature and less inclined to fall for Internet crazes like
this.  That is not to say that a blog is never a useful thing,
only that blogs – as everything on the web – should be seen for what
they are and not in terms of a pre-existing
enthusiasm.”

Some of what Rory says is well taken, particularly that we should not
be quick “to fall for Internet crazes.”  However, all the elements
he names (RSS feeds, community, content) work in concert with
chronology; none necessarily trumps the other. And blogs are certainly
easier to maintain than websites.  A lot of librarians don’t have
access to
their own servers or may have to fight battles with IT departments to
put up content, not that my own situation reflects that. And a blog,
not just being something “hot,” is
dynamic and can promote the library’s services.  Most of
the blogs that I read either promote a special topic (e.g. Library
Stuff, the (sci-tech) Library Question, Kept-up Academic Librarian,
Library Stuff, Open Access News, Research Buzz) or a personal viewpoint
on selective topics
(Confessions of a Science Librarian, Christina’s Library Rant, j’s
scratchpad, to name only a few.)  (And what’s the matter with RSS
feeds, anyway?)  Besides, is the chronological
format ideal for Library Juice?  It has been operating in
blog-like fashion, albeit edited and consolidated with considerable
care.  Finally I would take from Rory’s comments that the
chronology and the content must work together.  Whatever we put in
our blogs shouldn’t be left to rot and should be reasonably, easily
accessible (I have a lot of work to do on the latter,
admittedly.)  Librarians should blog, but also keep in mind
potential audience, and Walt Crawford’s dictum “First have something to
say.” 

12 Comments

  1. randy

    June 18, 2004 @ 4:38 pm

    1

    Garrett: Hear, hear! I agree with your response, especially what you wrote at the end. There are many blogs, and I think the frustration levels increase when the amount of white noise gets too loud. In other words, having to sift through the useless info to get to something of importance or utility.

    I confess that I only follow a few these days. It’s too much, even with RSS, to try to keep up. If anything, there are too many, so I’ve found myself focusing on only a few subject-specific ones, and bypassing the general ones.

    – Randy

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