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Archive for December, 2009

I find the topic of library blogs and blogging fascinating. As such, I always look forward to Walt Crawford’s commentaries about the topic. In this vein, I did buy a copy (pdf version) of his latest book, But Still They Blog. I admit that the statistical analysis made my head spin a bit (I get lost whenever quintiles come up), but the book was certainly worth a read for anyone who is interested in the seeming decline in blogging intensity within the library sphere.

After reading But Still They Blog, it is clear that people blog – and stop blogging – for a variety of reasons. People have wildly different ideas about the impact of tools like Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. on blogging – and on the worth of blogging. Ultimately, blogging isn’t dead, but it isn’t the same as it was several years ago. Crawford tells us all this through statistical analysis and through quotes from the blogs that he profiles. It is the story told through these glimpses at the various blogs which is my favorite part of the book (and is often my favorite part of many of his articles in Cites and Insights).

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I guess it is only natural that people become reflective as milestones approach. Soon, we will say goodbye to 2009 – which oddly enough was a fairly decent year – and I find that I can’t help but think about the past 12 months and what I have and or have not accomplished at work. Part of the reason that I choose to start a new blog at this time has to do with my own belief that I am at a crossroads of a sort.

Over the past year, there have been many indications that the need for technology support within the library is growing exponentially – and I don’t think that my department has been able to keep up. The growth of wireless demand from patrons, the increase in the number of laptops that students bring into the building, the increase of electronic resources, the addition of a number of disparate web applications, along with so many other changes have led me to conclude that the library needs to have a better way of handling and resolving technical issues.

So, I’ve been thinking and thinking some more about what the systems department in my library has traditionally done and what it should be doing to better meet the needs of our students (and our staff members as well). Recently, the library systems technician job that reports to me became vacant. I was fortunate to be able to get approval to make the job full-time. I am currently in the process of hiring, and I’m trying to find someone who can help me take our department in some new directions. Someone that can help the department be more proactive rather than reactive. Someone that I can work with to make the use of technology within the library become more seamless for everyone.

All in all, it is in an exciting time, but one which also fills me with apprehension.  However, this is definitely one of my major goals for 2010.

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One of the things that prompted me to begin blogging again was an incident that happened at work on the Friday before Thanksgiving. I had a meeting with our college’s web editor to discuss various outstanding issues. To be honest, I couldn’t quite remember what the outstanding issues actually were; we had both been putting off this meeting since August. This time lag, combined with the fact that I was leaving for a two-week vacation to  Sydney, Australia the day after Thanksgiving, had me a bit at a lost. I couldn’t really remember what we had planned to discuss.

I probably should have realized that our web editor had things that she wanted to discuss. However, I’m not sure that much could have prepared me for the news that the college was planning to instigate another college-wide web site redesign process. The reason that this was shocking? Well, the college only went live with its latest home page in the spring of 2008. The library went live with its new home page in late August of 2008, and it was only about a year ago that I finished migrating the supporting pages to the new design in our new content management system.

After I almost fainted, the web editor and I were able to have a very productive discussion – the type that I was not able to have with anyone before the last redesign process. This time around, it seems as if the library will be taken into consideration from the start of the process. The short story is that the library was not involved in last redesign process which caused me significant pain and aggravation. But now, the library redesign will be considered a sub-project, and I think that I will be able to be the project manager.

So, we are mostly starting from scratch. The one constant will be our new content management system. In the previous redesign process, we implemented this new system at the same time which added a serious level of complexity to the launch. The good news is that this should give us the opportunity to do a complete overhaul. The bad news? I’m still exhausted from the last go around. I did the best that I could given the resources that I had, the process that I was constrained to and the templates that were provided. But, I wasn’t overly happy with the end result. This made me extremely self-conscious about my role as the library web manager.

Redesigning the library’s entire web presence is the subject that will be taking up most of my mental facilities in the coming months. This is a burden that weighs heavily, and I anticipate that the vast majority of posts in the near future will revolve around this topic. Hope springs eternal, and I keep telling myself that this is an opportunity to create something better.

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My Work Bete Noire

Overall, I love working as a systems librarian. And I generally feel quite confident in my abilities to support technology in the library. However, I have very mixed feelings about the fact that I am responsible for the library’s web presence(s). This is no easy task – and one that causes me extreme angst. In the ten years that I have been working at my current job, the library’s web presence has become much more important to day-to-day operations. Additionally, the number of disparate web applications and/or sites has grown exponentially. This has made our web presence extremely complicated and, in my opinion, quite convoluted.

This convoluted tangle of online sources and services makes my head spin. I often think about this tangle and wonder if dealing with it all is outside the realm of my capabilities. Of course, the reality is that dealing with our presence is probably not entirely beyond my scope. But that doesn’t necessarily make me feel more confident about being able to better manage it.

More will definitely follow on this topic. Basically, our college is undertaking another web site redesign project – despite the fact that we did this only a couple of years ago. The library didn’t make out so well the last time around, and I’m really trying to make sure that this time around things go better.

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Because I felt that my primary library-related interests have shifted significantly since completing my masters in library science program, I decided to end the blog that I had started while in school and start from scratch. My plan, which is much less restrictive than the one I had for the aforementioned blog, is to write about issues that I face in my day-to-day life  – primarily my day-to-day life as a systems librarian at a small academic library.

I do not have a specific vision for where this blog will go. I deliberately would like to allow myself a bit more freedom in terms of content. I certainly feel as if I am at a bit of a crossroads in my job, and I’m hoping that I can use this venue to work through some of my thoughts about technology in libraries.

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