Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Graduating: or, how I got inspired about my career

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As of today, I am officially a graduate of the Masters of Information Management degree at Queensland University of Technology.

It feels a little anti-climactic though as the ceremony was in Brisbane, and seeing I'm here in London I couldn't attend. And I'd even forgotten it was happening until one of my coworkers reminded me! I handed the last piece of assessment in in July, so I've felt finished for a couple of months now.

The last semester of study was one of the best I've done. It was that semester that got me inspired about my choice of career and made me want to get involved. It was part of the impetus for starting this blog and for getting more involved in the professional associations that exist in London. Even though I was studying externally I still felt like I was a part of something bigger and that I needed to give back to that.

The first steps of my career have been taken and I think they're heading in the right direction.

Thursday, 13 September 2007


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I started using Google Reader recently, mostly to see what everyone was talking about, but also because Bloglines had started to become too annoying to use.  And I think I'm converted.  What I'm really loving is the Star feature as it means I don't have to leave all the good posts marked as unread and I can see everything in the same place.

There's been a lot of fantastic posts lately which are in my Starred items folder that I really want to share.

To start with is a post by Scott Vine over at Information Overlord that I think needs to be read by CEO's and managing partners everywhere. It's called Wasting Time - Facebook and other Fallacies.  Scott highlights some pretty relevant stuff about wasting time that all these so called 'studies' on Facebook seem to ignore.

Kathryn Greenhill at Librarians Matter wrote a good post on power in Library 2.0 called What’s new about Library 2.0? Shift in power.  She raises a good point about the 2.0 movement about the whole '2.0 is about being user-centred'.  She then goes on to outline where she feels the power has shifted.
So, if being user centred is not new, and Library 2.0 isn’t only about new tools, what is new about it? Why should we lift our heads from the stuff we are already doing and take notice of it? To me, the new element that Library 2.0 brings to our libraries is a shift in power balance - between us, our users, suppliers, software vendors, non-users.

On the topic of 2.0, The Other Librarian wrote a fantastic post titled Under the Hood of Web 2.0 : the top ten programming concepts for librarians to understand. Definitely a useful post to read if you're into the whole web 2.0 thing and want to know more about how it's all actually working.

There's been a lot of talk about the OEDB list of top 25 library bloggers. I definitely agree with the comments many made that their methodology needs a little bit of work. However, as a response, Meredith Farkas has started a survey - the Top Three Library-Related Blogs Survey. The survey is open until September 29 so head on over and fill out your three favourite library blogs.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

New ways of seeing

So. We've been planning this for a while, but it's taken a while to get sorted. We have decided to relaunch the site - pack up our things and move to wordpress, our own shiny new domain and out of the mire of pseudonymous blogging, and start writing as ourselves at the all new and improved Enquiring Minds Want to Know.

Please feel free to peruse our new about us page that will give you some insight into the crazy minds behind this whole shindig.

It would be wonderful if you could all click on the link below to resubscribe to the new feed, or go here to check it out first, and tell us what you think of the redesign. There is also, should you be so inclined, a new link to subscribe by email, if you're into that kind of thing (check out the sidebar).

We will be running both blogs simultaneously for a while to give everyone a chance to move over - however, the feed on this one will be littered with notices reminding you to change your subscription or update your bookmarks, so it might be best just to do it straight away and save yourself the hassle :)

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

No flip flops in the office: or, why business casual just don't work in a law firm

Recently Librarian in Black had an interesting post regarding honesty and blogging about work. She came to the conclusion that there was no happy medium - honest blogging is both career suicide and honest sharing at the same time. And I rather agree with her.

This isn't an issue we talk about a lot, but it has been coming up more and more recently. There has been some critique of the bibiloblogosphere, saying that we're not critical enough, and that we don't deal enough with contentious issues. There isn't enough dissent and there isn't enough discussion of what actually goes on in the workplace. And I think that this is an interesting issue to address.

I can't help but think that this is (or should be) more of an issue with library blogs - we are, inherently blogging about work (you may be a librarian by vocation, but it is still ultimately a job), but everyone is still too scared to talk about the specifics of what we do. There is, as LiB said, too much of a fear of reprisal. It is, however, this fear of reprisal (and the reprisal itself) that I find disappointing and strange.

We're not, by and large, a cantankerous or troll-y bunch. I can count the kerfuffles I've seen in the bibiloblogosphere nearly on one hand, nothing like the average of most internet communities (and even when there are slight dramas, they are very rarely on the scale of internet warfare seen elsewhere). We're not likely to say things that are massively detrimental to the workplaces in which we work, or the people whom we work with. At worst, I expect we may be slightly snarky, and there may be a slight workplace politics hiccup following a potentially 'difficult' post, if there were any at all. And, essentially, we are librarians blogging for other librarians. Where we work within institutions, our non-library colleagues are very unlikely to see what we have written, even if we are well known within the library-blogging fold. And our library colleagues and peers are likely to be sympathetic to the workplace troubles and frustrations that we all share.

But, sadly, our workplaces tend to be unsupportive of this honesty and sharing. It is uncomfortable, and unfamiliar, and they don't know what to do with it. They may approve of, or at least accept, blogging as an academic medium, in which we can wax lyrical about the state of the information profession, and where the industry may be heading, or as a forum for letting more interested people find out about interesting new tools and services. But they are uncomfortable with what I think of as business casual - the ability to be professional, and take your work seriously, whilst still being a separate person, with ideas and opinions that may not always align with what is best for the company. I see my role in this blog as a business casual role - this is something I do for myself; I love the reading, writing, and conversations that I get to participate in from being part of it, and I would be (and was) blogging in some other capacity if I didn't have this blog. But this is also a professional venture - this is a way of meeting other professionals in my field, expanding on my knowledge of the sector, improving my skills, and, ultimately, being better at my job, and any future jobs I will hold.

It is this business casual idea that makes me understand why in other professions it doesn't put you at a disadvantage to have a blog. In industries where it's ok to wear business casual to work, it's probably ok to be writing business casual as well - think advertising, design, consultancy, and other types of web work and bleeding-edge millenium industries.

And this is where I think the frustration lies. We are web-workers - we are sharing in the zeitgeist of new technology. We know what the most engaged minds of our generation are thinking and doing. We are using the tools that they are using, and sharing the thoughts that they are thinking. We engage in the same communities, and participate in the same practices. But we are not them. They work from without, while we work from within. They work in industries where free-thinking and opinions and open-ness are valued, whilst we still, by and large, work within large dinosaurs of organisations, unable to keep up with the changes, even when they would like to.

I can't help but think that it's somewhat unreasonable to expect bloggers to never hold, or at least express, a negative opinion about their workplace, but would indeed, if I were employer, rather than employee, relish and appreciate the honesty and personality of my employees being able to express such an opinion. But, at the same time, I know that it's hard for our lumbering dinosaurs of organisations to keep up with the nimble leaps and jumps that modern webworkers make.

And I don't know what the answer to this is. If we challenge the system we will get knocked back (note: my shocking absence on Twitter and Facebook during the working day at the moment). But if we don't challenge the system we won't change anything. Personally, I believe in pushing the rules as far as they will let me go and to hell with the consquences! What do you think?

Saturday, 1 September 2007

UK library blogs - why all the tumbleweeds?

Last week Fiona Bradley asked what I thought was a very pertinent question on Twitter - where are all the blogging UK librarians?

Since moving from Australia in 2006, I have seen the Australian library blogger population flourish, with many exciting bloggers and events. There has been the West Australia Lib 2.0 Unconference, Information Online 2007, and New Librarian 2006.

There is the upcoming State Library of Queensland Unconference, Australian Blogging Conference, Information Online 2009, VALA 2008 and IFLA 2010 has been announced for Brisbane (all of which I would love to be able to attend! why did I move to the UK again?)

There are wonderful blogs such as the aforementioned Blisspix, Kathryn Greenhill, Exploded Library and Connecting Librarian, amongst others.

(I focus on Australia, because obviously the US contingent has been kicking it hardcore for a very long while *g*)

But here in the UK, there is not so much...

There are the few of us legal library bloggers (all, you know, six or seven of us). And there's Phil Bradley and Karen Blakeman. And quite a few universities and public libraries have institutional blogs. And whilst institutional blogs are both great and very important, they're not quite the same as personal library blogs. They cover different issues and are not, generally, so much a place for discussion and community.

Where is the discussion, the barcamps, the unconferences, the passion? There's Internet Librarian 2007, but quite frankly, the program is just not that exciting, dealing with a lot of issues that are a bit, well, 2005 (e-learning, portals and wikis at work, virtual libraries - these are not new and challenging concepts). I envy all of you Australian and US bloggers, with your exciting conferences to attend and projects to get involved in. It just doesn't seem to have caught on here yet, and I'm not sure why. Are we too caught up in tradition and the old ways of doing things? Too resistant to change? Too scared to make a fuss or get into trouble for blogging our opinions? I'm not sure...

Or maybe I'm wrong, maybe there are lots of UK library blogs and events going on that I just can't seem to find. Some secret underground community of subversive UK librarians, maybe? (and if there are, please let me know!)