two previews for you

1. new.nypl.org
2. americanlibrariesmagazine.org

Both in beta. Both delicious improvements, in my opinion. Enjoy. Happy holidays!

ALA moves towards more open library content.

Via AL Direct comes this good news press release from ALA.

“Opening up American Libraries’ searchable PDFs at www.ala.org/alonline/ is just the first step toward making all future features and columns available on the site in HTML format in 2009,” said Leonard Kniffel, editor in chief. The current issue of the print magazine will be open to all, as will back issues through 2003; they were all formerly accessible only with a member log-in. The revamped AL website will link content to the AL online forum [hot link http://al.ala.org/forum/] where readers are encouraged to express their opinions about professional issues, news and controversies.

I wonder if this means that AL Direct will be archived and linkable online? American Libraries also has their own blog where they talk more about the decision to open up more of their content.

American Libraries: Mattering in the Blogosphere

I read this article online while I was away and it looked good to me though I have to agree with Rochelle that not including URLs was sort of silly. Here are my full unedited answers and the URLs to everyone’s blogs. Nicole added hers as well. I do tend to go on a bit.

What does it take for a blog to have an impact on the biblioblogosphere?

I’m not sure if you mean “have an impact in the blog world” or if you really mean “have an impact in the non-blog world” because they are very different. It’s easier to have a bloggish impact. You can read and thoughtfully comment on other blogs. You can write your own well-considered and well-linked posts and interact with the comments of others. You can send a lot of link-love to your favorite bloggers who may add you to their blogrolls and send link love back to you. Alternately, you can post a lot of naked pictures of yourself or others, pick fights with people, take controversial and poorly supported stances on hot button topics or just parrot the opinions of other more popular bloggers. It really depends what you’re after. I think most of us would argue that we want to have an impact outside the biblioblogosphere — as well as with in it — and to do that you often have to have good ideas combines with good presentation and an interested and effective audience. It’s a trick, to be certain.

What do the readers of your blog value about your posts?

I think I provide a perspective that people don’t see as often in the library blogosphere. I work in a rural community with small libraries and people without much tech savviness. For most people who live in cities or suburbs, they never see these people. I also have the time to read big articles, papers and presentations and synthesize them down for people who may not have that sort of time. I’m never afraid to call things the way I see them, but I try hard to refrain from gratuitous insults.

I also have a sense of humor and read widely, not just within library circles. My agenda is fairly clear and I’m pretty approachable. I also travel a great deal and so readers of my blog get insights into other locations, library associations and libraries by reading what I have to say. Lastly, a lot of library school students or potential students read my blog and ask me questions along the lines of “how do I find a library school to go to if I’m interested in the things you’re interested in?” and so I do a lot of mentoring as well.

How do you decide when to post—inspiration, obligation to keep the blog fresh and readers engaged, or what?

I post when I have something to say, usually about something I’ve read. I don’t keep any sort of timetable and as much as I love my readers, I don’t worry they’re going to go elsewhere if I’m not continually amazing. Librarians are steady folks by and large and I feel like once you reach some sort of equilibrium, you’re likely to keep it if you don’t piss people off.

How do you determine what the right length is for a given post?

I have an Alice in Wonderland approach to this, paraphrased “Start at the beginning, write through to the end, then stop.”

What has surprised you most about the process of blogging?

Two things. First, how many amazing people I’ve met who have enriched my professional and personal life to a degree I never would have considered possible. Second, a surprising amount of work has come my way as a result of me having a public professional presence. Certainly some of this is the result of what I say and how I say it in person as well, but a lot of the public speaking I currently do has come about as a result of my blogging.

What lessons can libraries learn from your experiences as an individual blogger?

I’m not sure if there is a lesson for libraries per se. I think generally writing for public consumption is a great way to find your own voice and interact with other people finding theirs. I hope that my blogging and others’ blogging has somewhat removed the “riskiness” factor of writing in public and made it seem like a more commonplace thing for people to be doing with their time and efforts. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has something to say and how nice is it that blogging is a tool that enables more people to talk to each other?

What’s missing from the LIS blogosphere that you’d like to see someone take on?

Better meta tools. I have been impressed by ArchivesBlogs, the aggregator for archive-related blog postings and I’d like to be able to do more fine tuning to get custom feeds of library blogs as groups and not just as individual rss feeds. I like LISNews very much but I’d like to see an even bigger and more robust library news reporting service that wasn’t just the voice of one professional organization or one vendor. Also, I’d like to see us using our online powers for good and spend more time being public presences of tech savvy librarians the way some librarians are doing in SecondLife, or Ask MetaFilter or even individual bloggers like Ask Tangognat.

How will the blogs of today be regarded a decade from now? Should digital libraries collect them?

I’ve just finished writing an article about this for Library Journal :) Yes, I think if you have a mission to collect the personal voices of a community or time period or event, you’re not going to be able to do it using just email or letters or memos, blogs are becoming part of the public record of how we know ourselves and need to be taken into account when we write our histories.

freedom: the powerful and the powerless

I think Sarah said it best when she posted about Michael Gorman’s latest piece [pdf] in American Libraries: Michael Gorman alienates and divides our profession. More in the comments over at Library Crunch, Free Range Librarian, and See Also….

The whole thing depresses me, honestly. I’ve respected Michael’s politics historically, and I voted for him for ALA President and for that I apologize. I’m beginning to realize just how important tone can be, in myself and in others. I don’t care how good people’s politics are, if they can’t at least make an effort to discuss things with me as if I were worth talking to, I worry about their ability to lead and inspire others who aren’t already on board with their ideas. This affected my choices for Council this year, as much as I respect Greg McClay’s honest attempt to change ALA from within and as much as I like talking to him personally, the tone of his posts makes me question his ability to bridge-build with people who don’t share his beliefs. I have similar feelings about current Councilors on both sides of the spectrum, it may be true that they feel the same way about me, some of them certainly seem to.

However, with Greg and myself and other people with blogs, it stands to reason that we’ll let more of ourselves shine through. You have the choice to read or not to read. I’m not the boss of you. In fact, due to my position on Council, my readers are more the boss of me than vice versa in some sort of quirky aggregate way. One would think, then, that being “the boss” of ALA — though as we all know it’s pretty tough to get anything done with a one year term — you’d pay special attention to the fact that you represent everyone. Maybe I think this because I exist in a constant state of performance anxiety: I want to do well on Council, on this blog, in my talks, at my job, in my relationship, in my town. I can’t imagine it being otherwise. Who doesn’t want to Do Good? Who doesn’t want to Fix the Problem(s)?

If I was the boss of you, I would want you to be happy. I don’t understand how it’s supposed to work otherwise.