Last month I posted an interview with Perry Moore, the executive producer of the Chronicles of Narnia films and author of the Y/A novel, Hero, to the YALSA blog. Did I know Moore personally before interviewing him? No, I didn’t. How did I get to know him? I blogged about his book. Yes, you read it right. I posted a blog entry on my own blog about his novel, Hero. Moore read my review, liked what I had to say, and suggested an interview. I contacted MK to find out if it was something she would like posted to the YALSA blog (it gets more traffic than mine) and she said, “yes”. The moral of the story? Get blogging. If you want to get to know people who can help you develop and practice professional skills – like interviewing – get blogging.
Some, like Huei-Tse Hou, et al (2009) http://www.informaworld.com/smpp.content~db=all~content=a916755380 suggest that teacher blogging has limited value in the area of knowledge construction and one could extrapolate and apply the same reasoning to librarian blogging. I beg to differ. For one thing, blogging is practice writing. And, while teachers may already know how to write, it never hurts to practice expressing your opinion in the written form. Back in my M.A. days it was publish or perish. Now it is post, publish, or perish (pun intended). Employers want to know not only that you can and have read, but also that you can write and have a well thought out opinion. Blogging is a public forum in which to show them. Research from the National Literacy Trust in the U.K. (Wilce, 2009) finds that “[...] blogging and social networking greatly improve [student] attitudes and make[s students] much more confident about their writing.” The same can be said for teachers and librarians.
Blogging also provides you with a network of professional colleagues – it provides a forum for discussion by way of comments to your posts. It gives you a way of contacting other people with similar interests who you might otherwise have never had an opportunity to communicate with. Leuhmann (2008) discusses the case of “Ms. Frizzle” (does this name ring any bells?), a science teacher who used her blog to work through dilemmas, solicit feedback, and display competence, among other things. Her case study provides empirical support of the potential of blogging for teachers’ (and I add librarians’) professional development.
Blogging on a professional site like the YALSA Blog might even be considered a peer reviewed form of writing. You know you will be corrected or asked for clarification if you post something that is not clearly articulated and accurate. You will also receive comments if you post something controversial like, blogging as a peer reviewed publication!
By blogging you can show others that you have developed an in depth knowledge of a specific area of librarianship. While my own personal blog is still quite a mix of ideas about library matters I think are important (I am a new graduate and looking for work so I expect my blog will become more focused once my role as a librarian is defined), I think the best blogs are those that are narrow in scope and more specialized. Like a well written essay, they are a lot of information about one thing. People who read blogs know exactly what to expect when they go to blogs that follow this model – they know that this blog will have information about X.
In addition, blogging will help increase your comfort level with the ever-evolving world of social software technologies. Tools like the new Google Buzz, Twitter, Facebook, wikis, picassa, skype, and others have become commonplace in libraries and, while many people read them, fear still holds some people back from actually contributing to them.
Some people think that writing a blog is naval gazing and time wasting. Well, I suppose it could be. But it is also a great way to develop a set of professional skills that will either help you continue to work as a librarian in a technologically enhanced world, or prepare you (and me) to work as a librarian when we find that perfect job.
Citations and Suggested Reading:
Hramiak, Alison, et al (2009), “Trainee teachers’ use of blogs as private reflections for professional development” In Learning, Media and Technology, Basingstoke: Sept, 2009, Vol. 34, Iss. 3, p. 259.
Huei-Tse Hou, et al (2009), “Using blogs as a professional development tool for teachers: analysis of interaction behavioral patterns” In Interactive Learning Environments, Vol. 17, Iss. 4, Dec, 2009, pp. 325-340.
Luehmann, April Lynn. (2008). “Using Blogging in Support of Teacher Professional Identity Development: A Case Study” In The Journal of Learning Sciences. Philadelphia: July, 2008, Vol. 17, Iss. 3, p. 287.
Wilce, Hilary (2009), “Don’t knock blogging – it’s the answer to our literacy problems” In The Independent, Longon (UK), Dec, 3, 2009, p. 2.
Vicedo, Melanee and Angiah Davis. (2010). “Professional development on a dime (or less): Learning and connecting in the new economy” In College & Research Libraries News. Chicago: Jan, 2010, Vol. 71, Iss. 1, p. 30.