We Work Together But Don’t Read Each Other’s Blogs

Here at ACRLog we’ve made some efforts in the past to encourage academic librarians to explore the faculty blogosphere. On at least two occasions we posted about conversations taking place on faculty blogs and we even offered a guide to some faculty blogs for those who wanted to explore on their own. Only you, the readers, can tell me if any of those articles spurred you to start regularly reading a few faculty blogs or if you blog – did you add any faculty blogs to your blogroll?

One of my must read faculty/academic administrator blogs is Confessions of a Community College Dean. The Dean has great insight into the inner workings of the higher education institution. This post was particularly helpful to me in my work as an academic administrator. Recently, while looking over the Dean’s blogroll I noticed that he didn’t link to a single academic librarian blog or any sort of librarian blog. When I look at almost any faculty blog there are no librarian blogs referenced. Then again, when I look at most academic librarian blogs (or the blogs of academic librarians who occasionally write about academic issues) they don’t include any faculty blogs in their blogrolls. So what is going on here?

We work together. We serve on committees together. We deal with the same students and administrators. Shouldn’t we pay more attention to each others blogs? I wrote to the Dean and asked him to share his thoughts on that. I think he made some good points. I have to agree that there needs to be a WIIFM factor for faculty. I do think there can be as much in it for them as for us when we read their blogs.

While the Dean didn’t exactly take up my issue of why faculty and librarians aren’t reading each other’s blogs he did write a thoughtful post about the changing nature of the academic library and I suggest you read it.

BTW, if you like reading faculty blogs we are looking for someone who would be willing to write a monthly post for ACRLog that would summarize what’s being discussed on different faculty blogs. If you are interested in taking on this assignment and becoming a regular contributor to ACRLog – send a message indicating your interest via our “Send a Tip” link on this page.

Smarts And Talent Are Good Starts But…Thoughts For 2008

You’re smart. You’ve got talent. But is that enough? Or is there more to getting where you want to go in this profession? What big things do you want to accomplish in 2008? If you’d like to explore these questions in more depth take a closer look at this post and discussion at a blog called Orgtheory.net. Fabio asks that perennial question – what does it takes to be successful? Looking at it from the perspective of problem solving, something frequently on our agenda these days, he comes up with an inventory of what it takes to succeed. The qualities on his list go beyond being smart, talented or both. How about: good judgment; creativity; luck; patience; strong work ethic; time management; persistence; stamina; street smarts; writing ability.

How would I sum it up. Two words. Hard work. Some talent and smarts will give you a good start. If you are lacking in either that needn’t be a barrier. I agree with Fabio that there are so many elements to achieving success, whether you are a faculty member, librarian or student. Any combination of abilities can factor into the success equation. But above all it’s hard work that can make the difference. But you can give yourself an edge. Fabio makes a good point when he says that each of us, if we are able to recognize our particular talents, can choose work or projects that play to our strengths and depend little on our weaknesses. So take it Fabio when he says: don’t obsess over smarts! Each of us has a lot more with which to work. We just need to discover and respect it.

So my advice for the new year is that each of us should spend some time thinking reflectively about our own strengths and weaknesses, and then develop a personal strategy for capitalizing on what we do best. Of course, some hard work should be part of the plan. And if you’ve got a great idea to share, have an issue that needs attention or simply would like an opportunity for your voice to be heard consider making one of your resolutions a commitment to write a guest post for ACRLog in 2008. Exercise your smarts, talent, creativity or whatever particular strengths you hold. See that ACRL Tip Page link on our page. Use it to contact us.

To Blog Or Not To Blog – That Is An Academic’s Question

I’ve been trying to focus some attention on faculty blogging just recently (without much success I suspect) as I think there’s some valuable insight for academic librarians to gain in that sector of the blogosphere. Now comes an interesting point-counterpoint set of essays over at Inside Higher Ed. This continues an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of blogging for academics, and for me this includes librarians, especially those on the tenure track.

In his essay that questions the value of academic blogging, Adam Kotsko, presents a view that blogging is not all that it is cut out to be when it comes to communicating with fellow academics. He writes:

I think that everyone needs to realize that having a productive conversation in an online format is very hard work, which is why it happens so rarely. Many bloggers can point out online conversations in which they were pushed to think in a new direction or got genuinely valuable feedback on a question, but as with all human endeavors, there is a high percentage of dross to go along with the occasional gold. Policing comments is a difficult job, and efforts to keep conversations on-topic or ensure that contributors have some substantial knowledge to share will often cause resentment in light of the “democratic” leanings of online communities. All this is on top of the obvious problems with online interaction as opposed to in-person conversations.

While Kotsko is tired of blogging he indicates he’s not quite ready to leave it behind all together.

The counter essay from Scott Eric Kaufman suggests that there is still value in blogging for two main reasons. First, he says that blogging gives most academics something they don’t have but long for – an audience for which to write. Second, he points to the communities that develop around blogs which he says are a good thing for us to have. He writes:

I’m talking about the communities we currently have, only five years in the future, when we’re scattered around the country, unable to communicate face-to-face, but still connected, still intellectually intimate, because we’ll still regularly be engaged with each other’s thoughts.

I would agree with Kaufman that blogging is still a worthwhile endeavor, and it certainly has helped to bring academic librarians closer together in conversation. A blog like ACRLog gives us an ongoing opportunity to not only share news and information, but to exchange our ideas and thoughts about how developments in and beyond higher education are impacting on our work. And there is a growing core of academic librarians who add to the conversation in their own blogs. While we’re on the topic of academic librarian blogging. I’d like to add to the ongoing conversation about anonymous blogging, I agree that it has its place. I’ve noted that a number of faculty blogs are anonymous, and I can understand someone being concerned about their views impacting on their current job or future opportunities. However I have a problem with anonymous bloggers who use their posts to insult or criticize the work of others. It’s a cowardly act and I think this post by John Berry effectively expresses the issues and this point.