The Pragmatic Biblioblogger

By Michael Stephens | I have blogs and bloggers on the brain. I'm constantly pondering the tools, the folks that write content for them, and where we might go next. The fact that the biblioblogger is the topic of my dissertation at the University of North Texas is probably the number one reason, and that's okay by me. Many folks said "write about and study something you will be easier."

So into my blogger's POV in the last few days come some wonderful, fascinating and disturbing bits. For example:

DULISSA blogA new blog is born; a uniquely human post illustrates the power the tools have to connect people to people; and the blogosphere shows its dark side. What I can't help thinking is this wild new world -- plugged in, oh so social and totally connected in ways that a cell phone shot of some injustice in a far away country can make it around the globe and onto blogs everywhere in a matter of hours if not minutes -- is never going to be the same and we need to make sure folks understand that power and what it means. Blocking access to the tools, as I've noticed in other posts, is not a good answer for looking at a societal shift such as this.

The progression of the tool within our profession never ceases to amaze me. Who knew when we signed on to be bibliobloggers that we'd end up creating some cool stuff (I didn't), author a milestone, groundbreaking post, or build such a strong community. And yes, it is a community, with all types of avenues and alleyways, opinions and facts and of course personalties and hard working folk who may only have a handful of engaged readers. Little-known blogs may have some of the best. Don't miss the voices of the incredible new bloggers joining us each day.

Another post that illustrates this well is by Laura Crossett at lis.dom. She wrote about the goals of those who contribute to the Biblioblogosphere. Nothing has been spelled out in our community -- our mission, our vision statement, or our creedo. Nicole Engard picked up on it and commented as well. Laura writes:

We want better libraries. We want better librarianship. We want to discuss our ideas with others who may have wildly divergent ideas but who are similarly fired up about them. We want to be around others who are as passionate as we are. And, perhaps frivously but perhaps most importantly, we want to be colleagues, comrades, friends.

Amen, Laura. She concludes:

The biblioblogosphere isn't working with a list of demands or even a list of points of unity. We're just firing rockets into the night, hoping they ignite something and that that ignition causes a conflagration, and that that fire is the kind that does not simply destroy but also makes way for new things to be born. I'm eager and interested to see what will happen.

In work on my dissertation I encountered Patrick Wilson's ideas of librarian as “pragmatic bibliographer.” This librarian constantly seeks answers and information to a question and gathers those answers, fragments, and bits of knowledge and data. “This is a constant monitoring activity, a sort of directed browsing. And it is against this background of continual monitoring that any piece of pragmatic bibliography is undertaken,” Wilson wrote, and “by contrast, is best illustrated by the activity of one person who is engaged in a specific limited inquiry, scholarly or scientific or purely practical, and who takes time and effort to find materials that will be of help in the inquiry." (p. 240)

So do we have a mission? Did you, new biblioblogger, decide to start a blog to contribute to the fireworks? To have your voice heard? Why do we do what we do?

So as a group of pragmatic bibliobloggers, what might the points of unity be that should and could drive us in our quest? I'll venture some here, acknowledging the incredible insights about bloggers and ethics from Karen Schneider and Jessamyn West and "Ten Things a Blogging Librarian Must Do" from TTW as well as a set of guidelines I think we all could adopt: the rules of the Library Loft at the PLCMC.

Respect Yourself
Respect Others
Respect the Space

Rules for The Loft at PLCMCPlease consider the following points as guidelines as well. I cannot speak for everyone but these points speak to me... do they speak for you?

Points of Unity:

We want the best for libraries and for library users. We will exchange ideas and practice and share our voices. Bibliobloggers shall:

Write about what excites us and what makes sense to us and shall not worry about being unneccesarily criticized for their opinions and free flowing thoughts

Respect the rights of all, citing and linking appropriately and praising those other blogger's ideas that lead to inspiration

Treat the Biblioblogosphere as an ever-growing organism (Thanks Ranganathan!) and an ever-growing community of diverse minds and opinions and nurture new voices

Honor the sphere of radical trust, that point where confidences between bibliobloggers shall remain just that -- confidences -- and not be fodder for gossip and conference chatter blog posts

Honor diversity of viewpoint and respectful disagreement

Celebrate successes and work so everyone has a moment in the sun

Remember a whole wonderful world away from the keyboard awaits and unplugging benefits the heart, mind, and spirit to return to the mission refreshed. And yes, your readers will wait for you. :-)