Thursday, May 11, 2006

The importance, and unimportance, of blogging

Yes, I'm still alive. I haven't had much to say lately. At least, nothing that was appropriate to this forum. When I started TYL, I made a conscious decision on what I would and would not include in my posts here. I've only broken that personal compact once or twice in the almost three years I've been doing this. The feeling of rightness in that decision was reinforced once I started working. And, when I started working, the frequency of my posts decreased. Mainly because the time that I spent crawling through the online LIS world, as a way to stay connected while unemployed, equalled a full time job, and I couldn't devote as much time to it once I started working for money. When I did spend the time seeing what others were saying, I didn't feel as if I could add anything new to the dialogue, so I often just sat quietly on the sidelines.

About six months ago, I think, there was a discussion started by Walt Crawford, once again I think, regarding how bloggers drop away for a while and then come back. Sometimes apologizing for going away. I don't think I'm apologizing for disappearing because I'll probably temporarily disappear again after I've posted this. Yes, I want to let people know that I'm still active in the profession, but I no longer have this blog as my seemingly only outlet in doing so. Back in January, I had an essay published in Public Libraries regarding my views on "The Great Librarian Shortage". If you're interested in my point of view, go read the essay. I've also contributed a chapter to a book regarding the different job opportunities available to people with an LIS degree. I've been asked to contribute a chapter to a book on readers' advisory. And that's just what's been going on with my LIS writing.

In the organizational side of my professional life, I've been a chair for NMRT committees the last two years. I ran for a director position with them this year and lost by four, count them, 4 votes. For personal reasons that also contribute to my recent disappearance here, I didn't campaign for the position. At all. Not that I didn't want the position (why would I have run if I didn't?), but because my mind was pretty much consumed by those personal reasons that almost everything but showing up to work got tossed by the wayside. Which brings me to the point of this post.

I've been doing this blog for almost three years. Because I have turned into such an infrequent poster, I forget how much name recognition it has provided me. It really helped to propel me into opportunities that may not have come as quickly otherwise. Some of my writing opportunities grew out of posts that I made to listserves, but posting here helped to refine my writing style, my writing ability, and my voice. Exercise and practice never go out of style. Sitting in front of me is Rachel Singer Gordon's "The Nextgen Librarian's Survival Guide". Get a copy and check out page 151. Would the profile of me there have happened without this blog and the site? I can almost guarantee you: No. Remember those four votes in the previous paragraph. I'd like to think that it was due to my stellar "purpose for running" paragraph that I was so close, but I doubt it. I'm the chair of NMRT's Online Discussion Forum committee this year, and while we generated a lot of postings on the NMRT discussion list this year, very few were from me. My committee members did a wonderful job, but it wasn't my name that was popping into the voters' inboxes on a regular basis. So why did I come so close with so little fanfare made about my candidacy? I can only think it was because of the relative longevity of this site, my activity over the years in NMRT (low key though it may have been), and my presence on various professional discussion lists at different times. Okay, the essay in Public Libraries probably helped a bit, too.

So why do I also put the unimportance of blogging in the subject line of this post? I'm not a one-hit wonder. This isn't all that I do, thankfully. I'm not bored with blogging. Frankly, I'm embarrassed by how many blogs my name is associated with. Well, half of them are related to my fiction writing, and no, I'm not disclosing my pseudonym. If you figure it out, I'll confirm then. To me, the different blogs I contribute to are a bit like why I have so many e-mail addresses. They each serve a purpose. This is my professional one. The others, not so much, or are related to specific projects. With all of the projects and activities, both LIS and other, that I've become involved in, blogging here has taken a backseat. My time is very precious. It will be for the forseeable future. While I wasn't elected to a two-year directorship of NMRT, I was appointed to fill out the term of a director who was elected to another board seat. I have that book chapter to work on. I'm building a secondary career as a fiction writer. This blog isn't going to die. It has a place in the LIS world. But I take to heart what Walt Crawford said: "First, have something to say."