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It is a nice day today during this vacation week so I went for my usual walk while listening to an audiobook on my MP3 player. Any book I listen to is downloaded from the state library. I grow tired of the usual YA vampires, zombies, werewolves and other supernatural stuff. Today I decided to listen to Alan Alda’s autobiography Things I overheard while talking to myself. I have grown a new appreciation for Alda, who has seemingly walked with me through life: as a kid watching M*A*S*H* to today catching The West Wing on DVD, also from the library. I’m sure I’ve encountered him in between those times, but much like that time period, it’s all a blur now.

Alda recounts a moment in a Times Square coffee shop when a young man of 22 (Alda himself 25) put down his coffee cup and in a very matter-of-fact manner said “I’ve been thinking that I might kill myself.” Alda attempted to convince him his whole life was ahead of him and he had a lot to live for to which the man replied “I may go for that, but I might kill myself. I haven’t decided.” Alda never knew what had become of this man. Later on when he was a TV star, he received letters from people who shared the same sense of distraught. Alda responded to all of them as best he could, and never knew what became of many of them, if they had ever found meaning in their lives. Later Alda found himself in one of those nighttime moments when a question came to him from a voice in his head.

So tell me, are you living a life of meaning?

To answer that, he tells a story I can relate to of faith and doubt and how a life of questioning opens things up for you, but provides little meaning. The meaning is not external; you must create it yourself. Make something of nothing, as the existentialists suggested. At his daughter’s graduation he spoke this:

Move with all of yourself. When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory. Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. It is not previously known. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself. (Alda, 2007, p. 21-22)

Knowing what you care about and then devoting yourself to it is just about the only way you’re going to be able to have a sense of purpose in your life. (Alda, p. 36)

I find comfort in the “not quite knowing what you’re doing” part. The second quote is the troubling one. Knowing what I care about, then devoting myself to it. I’ve been there and done that, realizing not only ministry but also faith itself was something in which I didn’t fit. But at one time I knew that was right, then discovered I knew nothing. So now to pick up the pieces. The library world fascinates me. I feel at home there. But what happens when you go home? How do you answer the question “What do you do for fun?” “What hobbies do you have?” Questions I cannot seem to confidently answer.

I struggle with these things perhaps more than some. I’ve been a spiritual “leader” who provided guidance for others, while at the same time not understanding myself. Now I can help people find a book on the shelf or convert a document, but what am I truly devoted to?

I struggle because this is vacation week. Now I have time to catch up on work for my Masters, do some reading, and other stuff. I went to a college on Monday to observe a library reference desk so I could write a paper. Done. I decide to treat myself to an old bookstore and find a good book for $6. I come home and decide it’s a good day to treat myself to the Chinese lunch special for $7. Now I realize with a week and a half to my full-time job payday, I have $95 in my checking account and an $85 bill. I deposit my part-time job check tomorrow for $60. This week I was to put together all the documents necessary for removing my ex’s name from the mortgage. My printer is out of ink, so that means waiting another week to buy a cartridge or take money out of savings, which I deter but am having to do more of. Of course to submit these documents, I need to send in nearly $300 to process it. So that’s now on the back burner anyway. The documents also tell me that I will not be eligible if the mortgage is over 33 percent of income or 38 percent of current debt. I am not positive but it’s going to be close. So in other words, I have been paying a mortgage on my own for 8 months now and will possibly be told I cannot afford it.

$30 for my cheap phone plan comes due in 3 days and I need that to hear if I have any interviews for jobs with more money closer to home. Then there are groceries, which maybe I can limit to $20 for next week. Then there is gas. Since I haven’t traveled to work this week, it will be less and if I use a sick day I may make out okay. But then there is the $10 co-pay to see my counselor, which is a must, and the tolls to get to and from there. Since I already pulled money from savings to cover car registration and inspection (and need to put off the oil change for another week), I don’t like to again. I have enough in savings, but try and stay off it as much as possible, and know a major car repair or water heater or plumbing problem is always right around the corner. And when I go to the counselor’s I like to get a chai and cookie, which comes to all of $4, but then I feel guilty for a treat like that, but isn’t life too short not to? So the game my life now is involves trying to see how little I need to pull from savings to meet regular expenses since it’s hard to get a roommate in a 690 square ft condo in which the mortgage is far higher than the value, take even quicker showers, stay in the dark as much as possible, and drive only when necessary.

No idea what this all has to do with Alda’s book. I am not bemoaning life. It can always be better. I don’t give up. I just like being honest in saying it is hard to find something you care about and devote yourself to it when the basics are a struggle. Patrons come to the library in even worse shape and we smile and wish them well. I’m supposed to be heroic and pull myself up by the boot straps, but how do you afford those? You can’t tell people these things because you are not looking for handouts. So you struggle alone and no matter how frugal you are, there is an unexpected expense lurking somewhere. Perhaps this is what life on the edge is. Is this living a life of meaning? I suppose I could give a great speech on this someday or write a great book. But what of those who will never have that chance?

I should be doing something librarianish and review Alda’s book, so I will do that now.

It’s a great read. Or listen.

 

 

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Yes it seems the 3AM dilemma has come to pass once again. Going to bed by 10 does not guarantee more than 5 hours sleep. At least this blog is 24/7. Can’t even say that about Facebook- I guess friends sleep. And I’d rather not see who’s in Walgreens at this hour.

So an interview comes up this week for a very different school librarian position. I popped up there yesterday afternoon to take a look around: walk the lake, the downtown, see the building, figure out where to park, etc. It’s all kind of like a vacation. “Oh, I’d so much like to move here.” It’s like being a tourist. You try to get a sense of where you are, and someone you pass on the sidewalk says hello and you conclude “Such a nice little town.” Things always look  better from a tourist perspective. You find out different things once you move there, but this is the way we all start something new, like a courtship. We dress to impress, try to say the right things, get the other person to like us. Just don’t tell them about weird uncle Moe.

But we all need new starts at various times in our lives. Marriages don’t always last, and very few live in the same house or work the same job their entire lives. Friends pass on or move, so even if you are lucky (or perhaps unlucky) enough to stay put for a long while, everything around you changes. Some postmodern type thoughts enter my mind.

I’ve spent some time trying to anticipate the questions I will be asked and how I would answer them and whether those answers would match their expected answers. I have been on both sides of the interview table, and I come to realize that no matter what kind of preparation you have, the best kind of interview is something completely unplanned. We try and create an identity. No matter how much work we put into a resume or how accurate we try and make everything, it is still true we are creating an identity. Beyond the facts of what you want to do, where you have worked, what education you have, and samples of what others have said, is the attempt to present yourself in the best light. You want everything to be consistent, and you can agonize over the whole process. We are in essence creating an identity in making all of the pieces of life fit. I have wrestled with what an MDiv is useful for since I am not a minister any more, and have narrowed it down to a conclusion that no matter who I meet or where people are coming from, I can most likely relate to them. That’s a broad and optimistic conclusion. People are hard to figure out. But I’ve seen a lot in many different contexts, and have dealt with issues that would bewilder many. Well, it bewildered me, too, but I still had to react, bring calm to chaos, give an impromptu philosophical discussion, comfort someone who just lost their life partner, etc. It didn’t kill me, so maybe it did make me stronger.

Creating identity is what we have to do because none of us can truly accurately represent ourselves. So we bring letters from others along with phone numbers. What do others say? The same is true with a school. Can the committee truly represent the school? When you are on such a committee, the thought goes through your head. How much do I truly know about us? They do their best, but they too must create a reality to present to myself the interviewee. I must come up with the “right” questions to ask to explore this identity, but no matter how prepared I am, the best questions will come on the drive home. “I should have asked X…I should have answered j instead of t…” and on it goes. While we all seek honesty and authenticity, we worry about “screwing up,” yet I wonder if that more accurately portrays a typical day rather than your expertise in solving problem after problem and answering question after question? If they ask how I’ve screwed up, I’ve got plenty of cool stories.

We try to represent ourselves well and make the best life decisions as possible, yet never quite know who we are, where we fit, or how we will handle different things. Some feel preparation eliminates all of this ambiguity, but I find just the opposite. The more I prepare, the more I explore. The more I explore, the more I ponder. The more I ponder, the more ambiguity. The more ambiguity, the more excitement I feel because life itself is completely wide open. So many interesting things to think about and discuss, so many stories to tell. Should be fun.

So the blind date will happen this week. I will dress up and meet people I haven’t before, try to impress and they will do the same. If something “just seems to click” we will decide to spend more time together. Then we will learn about who we really are, work together in ways never planned, experience situations never imagined, and while struggling through things together, still be glad we are together. What a crazy analogy. When did I become a relationship expert?

Guess I better add that to the resume.

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One problem with the blog title is that by the time I got to writing it was beyond 3AM. But the pondering started a little after three. Another problem is I haven’t blogged in so damn long that at least I could have chosen something more cheery. Who is cheery at 3AM?

I know some philosophers have discussed loneliness and such matters. I don’t remember who said what or when but I did come across an “Existential view of loneliness” over at the Philosophical Society and some ideas did come back. But not too many. But it did get me thinking over oatmeal and coffee. Thank goodness for both items in that they are easy to make or I don’t know how I would survive. And no, this isn’t instant oatmeal. I made it myself.

What grips me often enough to write about is the overwhelming sense of loneliness. I suppose the 3AM time slot lends itself to that when you can’t get back to sleep. I read Nietzsche talked about these kinds of things- a peering into the abyss. I must read him again…if I ever really read or understood him before. There is Thoreau walking in the woods and pondering it all. Not sure I’m into that.

Perhaps my sense of loneliness is confronting what life used to be, or maybe never really was, what it currently lacks, and what it may never be. It is confronting what the meaning of it all is and how there can be such emptiness in things. We use phrases such as “lonely in a crowd” because “getting out there and mingling” doesn’t cure anything. In fact, it confronts us even more with others who seem to have more, connect with more, who enjoy more. It is so easy to feel as if you are on the outside looking in on life itself. There is a hollow void that is not filled, a willing embrace with nothing to grasp.

Loneliness is described as something we all encounter and most of us do our best to avoid. It is not so much a negative thing- it can stir us to asking the right questions of existence. A heightened self-awareness, quoting the author of the site linked above. If such is the case, what am I being stirred to? Am I truly lonely or only am influenced by subjective feelings? Medicine helps the anxiety- perhaps it wore off earlier than usual?

Leading a meaningful life, the author reminds me, is up to me. So it is my fault for not finding meaning in things around me. Why then do I find so little meaning in things? We are the authors writing the books of our existence. Why then can’t I write a romance instead of a horror novel?

Oatmeal is cold. It doesn’t stay hot very long. Neither does it seem do the things we plug in to fill the hunger of loneliness. The hunger comes back but the oatmeal is gone. I must find other things to fill the void. Another good essay says we have a “desire to connect one’s separate existence to the existence of others.” It is a quest for being, of realizing who we are, and without this we live inauthentic lives. The fear, pain, and suffering through the experience apparently will bring us better in touch with our existential selves, to our very core, and can deepen the sensitivity to self and others so healing can happen. Instead of avoidance, I should be embracing this new understanding, engaging in a new self-understanding, observing its lessons, and stepping forward.

That’s pretty damn deep for this hour. Especially with cold oatmeal.

So I guess we connect where we can. Probably with others who are equally disconnected.

Peace.

Bob

 

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I am teetering towards that familiar 3AM blog time, although I got a head start today and it’s not quite 2:45. Same thing applies, however, as I find myself unable to sleep after a good 4 hrs of sleep. Was dozing off watching an old Bond film: the one with the guy who throws the hat and cuts off the head of a statue. That’s pretty cool, especially for 1964. But I’m not anxious for Santa to come. I just can’t get back to sleep. Fortunately, there is this blog and a pile of books anxious for me to get into.

I have now lost 45 pounds in total since about this time last year. Without a life crisis, I doubt this would have happened, yet people tell stories of how it was due to a life crisis that positive things have happened, so perhaps I’m in good company. At least I look at it that way. I can say I was “trying” to lose the weight for well over a decade, of course in the same vain as I’ve been trying to prepare for the Boston Marathon or win the Pulitzer prize in Physics. All three were seemingly insurmountable. But crises do change things, not only in day-to-day decisions but in overall outlook.

So this will not be a “how to,” to encourage you people to go through a crisis as well so they can take off some weight. In fact, others could tell a different story in that a crisis put more weight on. In any event, I will simply be brainstorming some thoughts in this personal memoir on food and eating it. What else is there to do on Christmas Day at 2:54 AM anyway?

Oh yeah, Merry Christmas to you.

My earliest memories of food seem to take me to food stamps and government-provided cheese.And then there was that god-awful powdered milk, which if not stirred thoroughly would give you the most disgusting taste you have ever had as you are finishing a glass and a wad of powder goes right down your throat. Food was not a given when you’re the child of a daycare teacher and cab driver, so food stamps were a necessity. On Sunday we would hear in church how wonderful it was to have such a “godly,” family values, president, that being Ronald Reagan.

The real world, however, was experienced differently. I remember a number of times that my parent’s paltry pay was too much to qualify for food stamps, sometimes by $20 or less. In church, this was described as God testing our faith, or teaching us to pray more, but now as an adult reading history I realize it was the “Reagan Revolution,” which glorified in cutting “entitlements” we poor folk were always taking advantage of. So I remember my mom with tears in her eyes, realizing we didn’t have enough food stamps, and picking out what to take off of the bill. We would then each take a bag of groceries with us, and go wait for the city bus. We would only do a couple of bags at a time, not just because we were waiting for what little my dad brought home everyday, but also because there was only so much we could carry home. I do remember, however, what a big deal that big block of government cheese was, and how a hunk of that would go a long way. Tasty, too.

In my early grade school years I developed a habit that I still have not been able to break. Eating too fast. I don’t remember this exactly, but my mom said in first grade I would come home talking about how fast we have to eat our lunches because the teacher would be yelling to hurry up because we had to go to recess. I don’t know if we had 20 minutes, half an hour, or what time exactly. But what I do know is I have always eaten fast and had to remind myself mentally or be told audibly by others to slow down. In college, this was nearly impossible to do, as I would often only have a few minutes to eat in between classes and working in the cafeteria.

Our biggest treat was getting an Amato’s italian sandwich on 1/2 price Wednesday. Never has a greater sandwich ever been constructed by humankind. Nice, soft bread, ham and cheese, real black olives, green pepper, onion (which took me years to like.  Mom would order my sandwich without), tomato, the greatest pickles in the world, all topped with salt, pepper, and oil. This was the treat of the week, and whenever I am near Amato’s, I still have to stop in and get an italian. It’s just the way it is.

My mom probably did the best she could to prepare healthy meals. I never liked salad as a kid, but grew into liking it over those years. She would make tuna casseroles that were great. She fixed separate meals for my father, who was convinced she was trying to poison him. I remember citric acid always being claimed as the ingredient she was using to do away with him. “You probably put citric acid in it,” or something to that effect. He didn’t like any spices, and those were probably a cover up for the citric acid. So, mom and I would have our meal, and she would fix his usual: hamburger, mashed potato, and lima beans. Maybe 1-2 changes over the years, but mainly that was the routine.

He would sit at the kitchen table, loaded with all of his papers, bills, receipts, and who knows what else. You really couldn’t see that there was a table there. The rare times we would have company (and fortunately very rare), mom would clear of the table of all his crap, then he would throw a tantrum that she’s been secretly throwing away stuff he couldn’t find. So mom and I would usually eat in the living room while watching TV. I remember the old Star Trek re-runs we would watch while gobbling up an italian.

Weight became an issue around 6th grade, probably a combination of eating too fast and having cheap food at home which would not have been nutritious. But then I thinned out in middle school, probably due to playing on the basketball team, and pretty much stayed that way through high school and college. There wasn’t a lot of time to eat in college, and those midnight pizza parties while discussing theology still didn’t do much to increase the waistline. Of course, the gym was across the street, and when it was open I would shoot hoop or lift weights.

My seminary days could truly be described as survival of the fittest. Rooming with two other bachelors, we scrounged for whatever we could find. Only one of us could really cook, and it wasn’t me. Our schedules conflicted with each other so much that I’m not sure what we ever ate or when. I worked at a church as a custodian and benefited from the potlucks that went on and folks would encourage “Oh, get a plate for yourself.” I do remember a conference at the church and Subway catered it. They had so many subs left over, they let me take whatever I wanted. I thought 20 subs would be a great deal for us. By the end of the week, we were desperate to find something else to put inside the bread because we were sick of ham and cheese. I remember the stash of graham crackers they had in the kitchen cabinets for the daycare center, which I helped myself to. I suppose I should feel guilty about all of that, but sometimes it was all I had for dinner.

Marriage brought with it extra pounds for both of us in a very short time. I guess I wasn’t used to 3 meals a day, and there was no longer a gym to workout at. I have in these past few months taken off the weight I put on all those years ago. We ate a lot and didn’t carefully watch calories or any such thing. Into the ministry years, while getting out for walks now and then, I had no definite exercise plan and sat at a desk studying much of the time. When I would go and visit shut-ins, one particular old Pennsylvania Dutch lady named Belle was a regular stop. Belle often had a snack ready for me, or a piece of pie. She made the most unbelievable grape pie. I’d never heard of such a thing. Say that 5 times fast. Grape pie.

For Friday night treats we would get some great Pennsylvania stromboli. While not coming close to an italian, the stromboli we got from OIP’s (they really said it like that, too. It stood for Original Italian Pizza), and the combination of the fresh baked bread and pizza inside…it was a great treat. And a ton of calories, I’m sure.

This must have been the way we relieved stress, and there was plenty of it. You feel down- you get yourself something that tastes good. That maybe the case with me- some type of reward. We then experimented with the new fad of the Adkins diet, lost some weight which quickly came right back. Over the years, that weight stayed on.

Divorce changed all of that. I haven’t felt like eating in months, and only recently has any type of appetite returned. I lost 10 very quickly, then 20…30…45. I have lost on average 2 pounds per week. I’m sure I will plateau eventually, but would like to lose another 25 pounds, which is now entirely possible. I’ve been working with a nutritionist for the past year, and her concern now is that I not lose too fast. I can see her point. It’s a bitch trying to find clothes to wear.

All of this has made me appreciate the psycho-social/genetic/cultural aspects of food. Anxiety and depression can make you not want to eat, or eat too much. There are people who really have no “shut off” button and don’t know when to stop. We have obesity problems and other eating disorders which are not treated simply by trying harder. I would eat too fast, then never feel full, and keep snacking. Stress? Anxiety? Depression? Perhaps all of those and more. Our weight, eating habits, and food choices are based on many things. We would all do better sticking to home-grown foods, local farms, and fresh produce, but expense is a major factor. These are complex issues I can’t even begin to address, particularly at 4:20 AM.

There are 2 free things I can recommend. One is the obvious exercise plan. I try to walk 3 miles every day. I don’t jog, run, lift weights, or play sports anymore. I can walk. The fresh air does a lot of good. Secondly, is a free website to track your calories:
www.myfitnesspal.com is a free tool to use to track calories and exercise. Its database is pretty good: just look up your food and record it, as well as your exercise. If it becomes routine, it can help you stay accountable. If you haven’t done it in a week, it will remind you. And if you cheat, it will never know.

There’s some food for thought on an early Christmas morning. Actually starting to yawn, so maybe I’ll catch up on some sleep.

Happy holidays.

 

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[Bapst: Students studying in Gargan Hall]

The John J. Burns Library of Boston College holds many special collections, including archives, Irish history, maps, photographs, and many other items of rare, historic value   http://www.flickr.com/people/bc-burnslibrary/

The library has three collections: “Remember this?” “Collections and work, and “Hanvey Photos.” Each of these collections has several sub-sections of hundreds of pictures. While these pictures are available on other related BC collections pages, the Flickr account allows for people to leave comments or maybe even make corrections.

This is a great collection and good use of Flickr. And what an undertaking it must have been to compile. They could use Flickr more to highlight new acquisitions or programs, but in this case it is hard to critique them because of the sheer size of this digital collection. “A walk through the stacks” set highlights some distinctive pieces in the collection.

The Burns library could definitely be a model for other libraries. While many would not have the sheer size of the digital collection the Burns Library has, still we can make titles more appealing for checkout. Each set has a write-up about the collection, and how to find more information.

Libraries, in using Flickr, need to organize their collections and sets as well as focus on good tagging. Perhaps someone will be searching for a certain man’s house from the 1800’s, and be able to find it because of these keywords. There also needs to be good organization of what items will be digitized and how they will be placed on Flickr. For instance, “Unidentified pictures” should not be mixed with a collection of old buildings. There needs to be good separation of materials.

The Burns Library would be a great example for other libraries, particularly special libraries and archives.

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“What’s on your mind?” Facebook has been asking me that for years (well, technically it was phrased differently but you get the point) and I’ve rarely answered. I can’t seem to find anything that important to tell people about. I joined Facebook in 2009, mainly to create a page for someone else, then spent time trying to figure out the difference between a group and a page. It’s easy now- a group is closed to the public. But back in the olden days of 2009, that wasn’t as clear as it is now.

Anyway, I do find Facebook has some valuable stuff. For instance, in real life it’s considered rude, to butt in on someone else’s conversation, but it’s perfectly fine on Facebook. You can butt in and tell them how they should live their lives like you do. Swear if you want to. Or just laugh at their misfortune. It’s all perfectly acceptable.

If I sent you a card in the mail everyday inviting you to play a game with me, you would consider me annoying and may even get the police and a restraining order. But on Facebook, people can piss you off everyday with a request to play Farmville or Anthille or dunghille, or whatever it is they’re playing now. Get away- I have no farm animals for you, or hay, or gold coins, or whatever you want. If I did have those, I’d sell them and get some real cash.

It’s also impolite in public to yell across the room at someone so everyone else hears you. But in Facebook land, you can write “Thanks for last night, honey,” on someone’s wall and all 632 of your friends and 500 of theirs, not only know all this, but they all click “Like.” Imagine 1,000 people standing in applause at such a thing.

I won’t even mention what you can do with pics.

So yes, I’ve had a very funny relationship with Facebook. What got me interested in the Facebook thing was the fact no one replied to emails anymore. Their inboxes were too full, so they all went to Facebook instead. It’s true. Everybody just left and you had to go find them on Facebook.

What I liked about Facebook was the ability to follow news, blogs, magazines and such because whenever something happened, it showed up on Facebook. I remember the medieval days when if I wanted to have someone else read the same article I read, I would cut it out of the newspaper, put it in an envelope with a stamp, and send it to them. In a week’s time, they would have read it too, and probably would have written a letter back to me about how great it was. But now, reading articles anywhere on the web, you usually have a “share” button which directly connects it to your Facebook page.

What’s great about this is you can really get people stirred up, or even more, have them “unfriend” you, a new word made possible by Facebook. In real life, breaking up is hard to do, but all it takes is a button telling Facebook they are no longer your friend. Why didn’t someone think about this before now? In some cases, they’ll never even know it. Some friend, huh? They don’t even notice you when you’re gone. What a world! I was actually friends with my 2nd-grade teacher until I shared an article about the New Hampshire Legislature wanting to save money and get rid of mandatory kindergarten. Live free and die, remember. And don’t be educated. So I shared the article with a comment about them being neanderthals or something, to which she, ironically objected to. She agreed kindergarten wasn’t necessary. I’m not sure if it was that or later posts but all of a sudden she was gone. Now how many people can say their 2nd-grade teacher unfriended them? I’m in an exclusive group!

So anyway, I should answer the questions for this assignment. I think Facebook is great for staying up with what is happening in the library world. I follow several college libraries and other organizations because it is easier than a bunch of email subscriptions. A lot of my Facebook friends are former students and I interacted with one the other day who had a question in writing a college paper. This would never have happened in any other way.

Libraries need to be on Facebook if, for no other reason than everyone and everything is already on Facebook. A Facebook page has replaced your website page as the place many people go first to find your organization. And it looks really nice to have that big blue Facebook icon that says “Find us on Facebook.”

They’ll click it. They can’t help themselves. And then you’ll find out what’s on their mind.



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This post reviews some of the blogs we were asked to follow, see what makes them tick, find some of our own to follow and see what we think of them, and summarize it all.

The Librarian by Day blog emphasizes technology and digital literacy. Bobbi Newman. Many of her posts are sharing videos and pictures from other sites and commenting on them. The long tag list in the left sidebar includes a number of 2.0 web sources and other technology. As a workshop speaker, her blog also has a section on resources from her presentations. An interesting post I read was questioning whether libraries should get out of the e-book business altogether until the dust settles and we actually know what format we will be using.

The Distant Librarian blog is geared towards the academic level for those involved in distance education. Google Scholar, access copyright, ebooks, digital magazines, and blending these and much more into an academic paper are some recent posts. This blog is not as updated as others. I subscribed to this blog so I can keep up with the academic library world. One of the posts I liked was the mention of the book Screencasting for libraries, which I was not familiar with.

The Librarian’s Commute is immediately recognizable as a blogger site, as it does not have the nice appearance of other blogs like WordPress. That’s just personal opinion. This blog is for the academic community as he discusses what’s happening at the community college and higher education level, spending several posts on e-textbooks. I found an interesting post on “weeding the print periodicals.” The author, since she is in a community college, should have an easier time weeding than Princeton would, but she still struggles with it. While her community college doesn’t support faculty research, the periodicals are mostly untouched, and the need for space great, they probably will be discarded. I never thought about this dilemma for an academic setting, so this was an interesting thought.

David Lee King’s blog focuses on technology and emerging trends, such as pondering a connection between Starbucks and libraries. He promotes his latest book Face to Face, which not only discusses web 2.0 but also about having a “business casual” approach to them. This means writing blogs with a conversational tone, making sure it sounds good, using the language your audience uses, and so forth. I enjoyed his take on these things and subscribed to his blog. Some of his posts made me want to check out his book, and the connection of using a blog to promote your published works is an obvious benefit.

The In the LIbrary with a Lead Pipe blog, we see a number of contributors instead of a single blogger. There seem to be only a couple of posts per month, and the topic can range anywhere. The conversations can even get philosophical as a recent post discussed thinking about the librarian identity and what and how we do things. I found this a very good read. Very insightful blog with enjoyable, thought-provoking ideas to read. I subscribed to the blog and have had a great time going through the thoughtful posts. Definitely the longest blog.

These are the three other blogs I chose to subscribe to:

The Academic Librarian http://blogs.princeton.edu/librarian/

In true 2.0 fashion I found this blog through another blog. This blog is by the philosophy and religion librarian at Princeton. This looks great and right up my alley of thought. He deals with the same weeding and research conundrums, and is very articulate.

I’ve always been a philosophical/analytical thinker, and the library field seems to be a great place to ponder our epistemology.  I have not found, however, a great blog that can feed me in this area. Fortunately, this assignment helped me locate such a place: Sense and reference, a philosophical library blog  http://senseandreference.wordpress.com/    This blog is great, and includes a post on great library philosophical readings as well as one on the connection of libraries and the Enlightenment. Great stuff.

But best of all is a blog I have followed for a few years now: the awful library books blog http://awfullibrarybooks.net/   This is a novel idea in that there are literally hundreds of awful library books still on the shelves somewhere, and librarians are encouraged to scan the cover and other portions, describe the book, and submit it. These are the great gems that somehow avoid weeding year after year and decade after decade whereby we all find these kind of books and ask “How did we ever miss that?” This is a good blog for laughs and to help remind us we sometimes take our profession way too seriously. But just remember the days when people flocked to a book on how computers can help you in the kitchen:  http://awfullibrarybooks.net/?paged=12

 

To me, finding information on the web is not a big deal. I follow a lot of blogs and go through the frustrations of Google Reader telling me I have 600 unread. I find, however, it doesn’t take long to sort through those and many times this is because many of them are simply posting and linking each other. A big story happens and every blog has something on it.

It takes a great blog and blogger to separate itself from the pack by providing a thought-provoking, philosophical, well-written piece. Blogs should rise above the mediocrity of generic reporting and blogging and give us something worth reading, pondering, and sharing. The blogs mentioned in this post do a lot of that, some better than others. The blogger needs to have something to bring to the table with not just their knowledge but personality and connection. A successful blog will have these unique characteristics that invite us to pull up a chair at the table and join in the conversation.

 

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