There are so many blogs about librarianship that it would be difficult to follow them all. Everyone has his or her favorites, of course, but NewsBreaks is highlighting some you may not have heard of in the hopes you’ll find it worthwhile to hear their perspectives.
If you already know about these passionate authorial librarians, read on for some insight into why they started their blogs and what advice they’d give to those thinking about blogging. If these names are new to you, check out what you’ve been missing.
David Lee King
David Lee King is the eponymous blog of a digital services director whose interests include social media, emerging trends, and libraries. He’s written two books for Information Today, Inc. (the publisher of NewsBreaks), but his way with words isn’t the only reason to follow his blog. He’s committed to improving patrons’ experiences at the library, he’s the go-to guy for questions about social media outreach, and he can carry a tune.
Bio: “I create, write, think, and speak about the social web, emerging trends, and libraries. This website reflects those topics. Sometimes I stray into other related-yet-cool (translation: fun) topics, like videoblogging, experience design and planning, and other emerging trends. Basically, anything in my head on any given day that’s somehow related to libraries, digital technology and emerging trends.” (He’s @davidleeking on Twitter.)
Blogging Beginnings: The blog’s archive begins in September 2003, with a brief post titled “Cool DHTML Menus.”
Why He Blogs: “I wanted a way to share my thoughts on websites and emerging technology trends that wasn’t part of a library listserv,” King says. “I discovered blogging, and haven’t really looked back! Blogging has been a great way to share ideas and thoughts, and to connect with some other really smart people in our industry.”
Typical Topics: According to the blog’s tag cloud, King has written about conferences, customer service, digital experience, Facebook, Twitter, video, and YouTube, among other topics and resources. A dropdown menu of categories includes Analytics, Cool tools, Future of Libraries, Open Source Stuff, and Writing for the Web. His first post of 2015 was “Playing With My Site Design,” in which he explains his blog’s new look.
Sample Post: “Tidy Up Your Twitter Followers”
“I recently went through my library’s Twitter followers and ‘cleaned up’ our follower list. What was I looking for? Mainly, that we are following people living in our service area. …
So—I ended up unfriending some libraries, some librarians, some people who had moved out of the area, and some celebrities that we had friended. …
What did that achieve? Hopefully, more interaction. More followers that might actually be interested in their local library and what we tweet. And several hundred more followers that we are connected to!”
Expert Advice: “Be consistent, and write. Lots. Make sure to mention other bloggers and authors, if you are writing about something they said or did. Most likely, they have a saved search or two on their name, and will read and possibly even respond. That way, you’re not just writing—you are starting a potential conversation,” he says.
The Last Word: King says the “things I write on my blog are always things that I come across and find really interesting. It makes me stop and think. Then I want to sorta ‘hang’ on that thought awhile, or capture it—so I blog about it.”
Jenny Arch, whose blog is subtitled “Look out, honey, ‘cause I’m using technology” in reference to an Iggy Pop song, comes across as approachable and enthusiastic about books, publishing, and libraries. She is currently an adult services librarian whose collection development areas include adult fiction books and audiobooks, speed reads, and digital content. Follow her blog for information on all these topics, as well as for insights about being a librarian today.
Bio: “I was born in Arlington, Virginia, and now work in Arlington, Massachusetts. In between, I lived in Santa Barbara, CA, attended Hampshire College in Amherst (where I studied history, literature, education, and ultimate frisbee), and worked at a literary agency in New York.
Between 2010-2011, I earned my Master’s degree from Simmons College School of Library and Information Science in Boston. While I was in library school, I worked at the America’s Test Kitchen* library, as a cataloger for an MIT professor, and as an Adult Services librarian at the Wilmington Memorial Library.
*Most delicious library job ever.” (She’s @itsokihaveabook on Twitter.)
Blogging Beginnings: Arch’s blog archive begins in January 2011 with the appropriately titled “Hello, World.”
Why She Blogs: “I set up my library blog in January 2011, at the beginning of my third semester of grad school, as a place to document what I was learning and doing,” says Arch. “I wanted to have a record of it for myself, and to share knowledge with other library students and librarians; I also thought establishing a web presence would help in job interviews (it did, I think). The blog has been a good way to track my interest in various issues and areas over time, from intellectual freedom to young adult literature, and it’s where I write notes on conference sessions and webinars.”
Typical Topics: The blog’s tag cloud features topics such as the American Library Association (ALA), books, education, the library world, publishing, and young adult. Arch’s first post of 2015 was “2014 Year-End Reading Wrap-Up,” and what a year it was—she read 281 books (counting audiobooks, picture books, and partially read titles—but that’s still impressive). Other posts center on ebook lending models, World Book Night, gender-specific books, and the First Sale doctrine.
Sample Post: “‘I’d listen to her read a grocery list’: On Audiobooks”
“It doesn’t take that much endurance to read a picture book aloud. Reading for longer periods of time, however, can be taxing, which makes the work that audiobook narrators do even more impressive. I started listening to audiobooks when I started driving to and from work; I used to commute via subway, where I found that external noise drowned out anything coming through my headphones.
At first, not sure how much concentration I’d be able to spare, I started by re-reading books I’d already read …
Eventually, I started reading books I hadn’t read before, and I’ve become hooked on audiobooks; …
Luckily for me, audiobooks are becoming more popular, and publishers are producing more of them (see ‘Actors Today Don’t Just Read for the Part. Reading IS the Part,’ Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times, June 29, 2013). As for whether listening to an audiobook counts as reading, there is plenty of debate. I would venture to say that as long as one has mastered the ability to read in print, audiobooks are as legitimate a way to consume books as reading them on paper (or on a screen). …
I think we are all hungry for stories, whether we read them to ourselves in print, listen to them as audiobooks, or read them out loud to ourselves or each other. If you aren’t an audiobook devotee already, I’d encourage you to give them a try.”
Expert Advice: “There is so much wonderful advice out there for bloggers in general and librarian bloggers in particular; Gwyneth Jones (a.k.a. The Daring Librarian) just posted her list of ‘11 Reflective Blogging Tips & Ideas,’ all of which is great advice,” says Arch. “If you can set a reasonable schedule and stick to it, that’s ideal; I really admire bloggers (like the Swiss Army Librarian) who post consistently, though I don’t always meet that mark myself. Attention to detail is also important; your blog is a representation of yourself on the web, and it’s worth it to copy-edit before you push something out into the world. Follow bloggers you admire, and link generously. Most librarians believe in sharing, and blogging is a way to share our knowledge and experiences with each other: to highlight great books, library programs that worked (or didn’t), censorship attempts, and more. Lastly, collaboration can be a way to share the workload and offer diverse content to your audience, though it requires dedication from all involved parties; I’m thinking of Kelly Jensen and Kimberly Francisco at Stacked, and the entire ‘cast of characters’ at Forever Young Adult as incredible examples of collaborative bloggers.”
The Last Word: “My interests are fairly broad, and what I blog about reflects those interests: it’s not just book reviews, or privacy and technology issues, or children’s and young adult literature, or the intersection between publishing and libraries, or author events, or conference session notes—it’s all of these things. I might (might) attract more readers if I narrowed my focus, but I like having the freedom to write about what I’m interested in, so that’s what I do,” she says.
Justin the Librarian
Justin the Librarian is the blog of Justin Hoenke, and he loves being a librarian—he’s pretty excited about life in general too, if his blog is any indication. Follow it not just for the chronicle of how he’s making his library a welcoming, creativity-fostering place, but also for his posts on the importance of self-assessment and critical thinking about his profession, including his struggles with work/life balance.
Bio: “Justin Hoenke is a librarian who has worked in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine, and currently is currently the Coordinator of Teen Services at a library in Southern Tennessee. He likes his job as Coordinator of Teen Services because it … challenges him to think differently about how libraries can best provide service to their community in the 21st century. …
He believes in giving the community exactly what it needs at that moment in time, working with tweens and teens in libraries to make them awesome human beings, video games as fun and great sources of reading, and creative spaces in the public library.” (He’s @JustinLibrarian on Twitter.)
Blogging Beginnings: The blog’s archive dates to November 2009, and the first post that centered on Hoenke’s library life was “Justin the Librarian vs. Coffee.”
Why He Blogs: “When I was in grad school for library science, I found that library bloggers like Michael Stephens, Jessamyn West, and Stephen Abram were the librarians that helped me grow and learn the most. I got so much out of their posts and their ideas and that really shaped me into the librarian that I’ve come today,” he says. “It was a very natural idea to start blogging about libraries: I wanted to put out ideas and stories to the library world that I hoped could inspire other librarians!”
Typical Topics: Justin the Librarian is a personal blog, in that Hoenke tells stories about his family, his interests, and his workplace. When he’s not posting pictures celebrating the successes of his library’s second floor, he’s talking about what it means to be a librarian and how he can be a better one. The blog’s categories include 3D Printing, Google, Online Identity, and Teens. Hoenke’s first post of 2015 was “Reinventing Reference: How Libraries Deliver Value in the Age of Google,” an announcement about a new book to which he contributed.
Sample Post: “Youth Services in Public Libraries (some thoughts that I’m having circa September 2014)”
“My mantra with library services in general is to keep pushing ahead and try new things. To be in a constant state of change is to always be on the top of your game. When you are on the top of your game, I believe that you are better able to provide for the needs of your community. Flexibility enables you to have a quick reaction. Too many times in libraries we are bogged down by the planning and talking about it process. Once that’s over, it is sometimes too late to give the community what it seeks. …
Here are some ideas that I have been having over the past few months. Enjoy them, borrow them, modify them, etc. If you don’t agree with them you can just close out your internet web browser and forget about everything I just said.”
Expert Advice: “Always be honest and show caring in what you write and what you share. Honesty and kindness go a long way and I really do believe that it helps the world be a better place,” Hoenke says.
The Last Word: “Someday I would really like to have 2–10 acres of land and do some small scale farming. I think a lot about a post ‘Justin The Librarian’ world and what I see is my family and I and some chickens, goats, and fields of vegetables,” he says.
Mr. Library Dude
Mr. Library Dude, aka Joe Hardenbrook, blogs about “libraries, technology, teaching, and more.” The “and more” part includes advice on doing well in interviews—job hunting tips, commonly asked interview questions, questions interviewees should ask potential employers, and what not to do in interviews. Hardenbrook doesn’t post as often as the other bloggers on this list, but when he does, it’s because he has something particularly valuable to say.
Bio: “I currently work as a reference and instruction librarian at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA where I manage reference and instructional services, teach information literacy sessions, supervise the evening/weekend librarians, and serve as a liaison to the education, psychology, and diversity programs. … In addition, I’ve taught college-level courses in podcasting, first-year seminar, and information and library science. … When not in ‘libraryland,’ I’m an aspiring shutterbug and traveler …”
Blogging Beginnings: The blog’s archive begins in February 2011, and in the first post, Hardenbrook writes, “It dawned on me: if you can’t keep it short, then blog it!”
Why He Blogs: “I was actually into microblogging before blogging—having started with a Twitter (@mrlibrarydude) account in 2008 as a tool to get advice and tips from other librarians,” Hardenbrook says. “I always thought, ‘I don’t have time to blog’ but then felt myself constrained by the 140-character limit on Twitter. So, I started the blog to flesh out ideas I had, library programs and services I wanted to share, and to focus on issues affecting librarians—like career advice and job hunting.”
Typical Topics: Hardenbrook blogs under 17 categories, such as Academic Libraries, Job Hunting, Library School, Online Students, and Teaching. His first post of 2015 was “A Library Interviewee’s Bill of Rights,” which provides 10 ways libraries can offer potential employees a fair chance to get a job. In 2014, he shared his thoughts on reference questions, Orange Is the New Black’s portrayal of the library, and little free libraries.
Sample Post: “Escape to Your Happy Place: De-Stressing on the Job”
“According to Forbes (and hey, aren’t they just ‘experts’ on libraries!), librarian is #8 on the list of ‘Least Stressful Jobs of 2014’ (info via CareerCast).
Well, who can blame them? We just read books all day, don’t we? Ummmm, no.
Hmm … Guess they’re not dealing with budget cuts, anti-tax crusaders, soiled diapers on the story time floor, skyrocketing e-journal costs, new information literacy standards, and irate patrons.
I count myself as one of the lucky ones. As primarily an instruction/reference librarian in an academic library, I’m usually not the one that has to lobby campus administration or deal with library fines. But frustration and stress can still bubble over: never-ending meetings, red tape, lack of resources, that thorn-in-your-side [patron, co-worker, professor, student … fill in the blank], the constant ‘do more with less’ mantra, or worse yet … a toxic work environment.
Although it’s no ‘cure all,’ sometimes you need to take a minute to de-stress, relax, or have a laugh. Escape to your happy place for a bit. Here are a few things I like to do …”
Expert Advice: “Find out what works best for you, whether it’s a traditional blog, Tumblr, or Twitter and go from there,” says Hardenbrook. “Decide whether you want to be a generalist—covering many different aspects of librarianships, or more specialized—like reading recommendations, children’s services, or academic libraries. Share your experiences, programs, and services that worked (or didn’t!) for you. That’s the best part: the sharing aspect. Your good ideas will benefit everyone in the profession!”
The Last Word: “After 12 years as a librarian, I’m still, at times, puzzled—and exasperated—by this profession, but I’m not jaded. There’s always something new to learn and that makes the job fun,” he says. “You also need to have some sort of outlet outside of libraries to unwind. For me that’s traveling and photography. So what did I do? I started a different blog to cover that!”
Screwy Decimal, subtitled “Tales from an Urban Librarian,” chronicles the experiences of Rita Meade, who delights in finding quirky, weird, amusing, and unusual things in her library. Her posts are typically short, have pictures, and should only be read in places where it’s OK to laugh out loud. If you’re a librarian, you’ll identify with many of her experiences. If you’re not a librarian, she’ll make you wish you were.
Bio: “I am a public librarian. I have a Master’s Degree in Library Science and another Master’s degree in Secondary English Education. I experience strange and wonderful things in my line of work. I like to share them. I (and/or my writing) have appeared in various places, including American Libraries Magazine, Huffington Post, The Village Voice, The Atlantic Wire, the NY Daily News, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Hairpin, and more. This blog won the 2012 Salem Press Library Blog Award in the ‘Quirky’ category.” (She’s @ScrewyDecimal on Twitter.)
Blogging Beginnings: The blog archive goes back to October 2010, with the entry “She Blinded Me With Library Science.”
Why She Blogs: “When I first started blogging about my experiences working as a public librarian, it was to show people (you know, the ones who might not have a full understanding of what libraries do) that libraries are still very much being used and are still relevant and essential to their communities,” says Meade. “I also wanted to share some of the fun and interesting things I encountered in order to put rest that old, tired ‘libraries are boring’ stereotype. Plus, I just really enjoy my job and wanted to talk about the good parts of it. I’m glad it’s gotten a good response and that I’m able to use it as a tool for library advocacy, education, and even entertainment.”
Typical Topics: In 2014, Meade shared conversations she’d had with her patrons about topics such as chauvinism, constructive ways to express anger, the joy of reading, and pomology. Other recent posts include “Domo Arigato, Ms. Roboto,” “Another Summer, Another Case of Summer Reading List Drama,” and “Library List.” Her first post of 2015 was “Who Is Paul McCartney? (Library Kid Edition),” in which she asked young patrons in her library if they knew of Paul McCartney.
Sample Post: “When Literary Tattoos Go Wrong”
“Yesterday I was doing some organizing in my apartment (you know how librarians like to have fun) and I came across a book of ‘Illustrated Librarian’ temporary tattoos that I had received in grad school. Since I graduated approximately eight million years ago, I wanted to see if they still worked—and they did! …
I’ve never seriously considered getting a real tattoo … not because I don’t like them or because I’m afraid of the pain, but because I’m scared that I’ll change my mind about whatever it is I choose as a design. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting something literary because, you know, BOOKS … I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to get Michael’s design actually tattooed on my person, but I do love it. Or maybe I’ll come up with another idea altogether that I’ll actually decide is worthy of becoming a permanent ‘living’ art exhibit. For now, I’ll just stick with the temporary tattoo. (Maybe I’ll trick the kids at the library into thinking it’s real. Again, we librarians like to have our fun.)”
Expert Advice: “Ideally, every blog should have a different scope and purpose. My main piece of advice would be: don’t try to emulate something else or force yourself to blog about something in which you’re not really interested. Develop your own true voice and decide WHY you are blogging—do you want to share story time tips? Do you want to talk about academic libraries? Are you more interested in reviewing books? Find a unique angle and have fun with it! Also, don’t be discouraged if you have a slow start—sometimes it takes a while for an idea to find traction,” she says.
The Last Word: “When I’m not ‘librarianing,’ I write for BookRiot.com and also host a podcast called Dear Book Nerd where me and a guest co-host answer bookish advice questions from listeners,” says Meade. “I also review for School Library Journal and sing in a librarian band called Lost in the Stacks. It seems that even when I’m not at the library, I’m involved with something bookish!”