Last night, I was searching Amazon for something completely unrelated* and happened upon this book, Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change, by Walt Crawford. The author is trying to find the middle ground between the old school library way and the new fangled Web 2.0 way of doing things, which is commendable. What really knocked my virtual socks off though, is that he cites me as a source. Specifically, this post from Friday, December 8, 2006, in which I talk about the use of Netflix in libraries.
The book is available for search on Amazon and so I was able to read pages 114-115, where I’m quoted. Since I haven’t yet read the book or even the whole chapter, I can’t really speak about the context in which I’m cited. Once I get my hands on a copy, I’ll have a more informed opinion.
But one thing I am, is uncertain about how I feel about being cited in this or any other book. At first go, it’s a little flattering to have my opinions taken into consideration, even if, as I gather from the few pages I’ve read online, that Walt Crawford is criticizing me. That’s fine. Healthy debate is great and I’m a big boy and can handle it. But what remains uncertain at this point (because again, I haven’t read the whole book yet) is the context.
My post on the subject (using Netflix in the library as a way to deliver videos to patrons) was just a simple reaction to an idea. I also went off on a tangent, criticizing the sometimes reactionary attitude of library administrators to new technology and the opportunities they represent for change in the way libraries interact with their patrons. That has long been a beef with me, going back to grad school and beyond.
The thing is, my blog is a rough draft of ideas that are constantly changing and evolving. Some library blogs are more academic (i.e. judiciously worded) and take topics at a more in-depth, analytical perspective. I do that sometimes but I’m not above tossing off a half baked idea, contradicting myself later, or criticizing reactionary librarians or critics of libraries with impertinent language. It’s my blog and I’ll rant if I want to. And anyone is free to read, link or cite my words as they see fit. It’s a wide and woolly Internet and I neither hide my identity nor suffer the delusion that a blog is somehow a private forum. If you can read it on the Internet, it isn’t private or secret.
But just how public and in what capacity a blog, any blog is, has yet to be defined. The gaggle of erudites of at Crooked Timber very widely form post to post and author to author. John Halbo will wax poetic on lit crit, then dismantle something idiotic Jonah Goldberg said this week. Or talk about Eurovision in a historical context. And he’s just one voice among several at one blog. And while I’m a bit of a lone ranger here at the IL, I’m just as likely to analyze Battlestar Galactica in terms of mythology, story telling and popular culture as I am to discuss library news or post pictures of my cats. You see the problem here? In which context was my post cited? Is it Academic Librarian Keith being cited or Geek Keith? Maybe it’s Slightly Sleepy and a Little Cranky with a Side of Silly Keith? Maybe it’s Author of Fantasy Novel Keith. Hell, maybe it’s Lucy.†
Blogs are still too new to have a defined space in the academic world. Some blogs have a narrow focus, more like a very specific technical journal, like the Librarian In Black, who just discusses Library Info tech and web 2.0 applications. Others, like Making Light, are the go to source for the sci-fi/ fantasy fan world, how to spot predatory agents, writing in general and… knitting. And what to do when a Kaiju attacks Manhattan. And that is what makes blogs so interesting and so confounding. How do you treat blogs? As Journals or diaries? Thy can be both and at the same time. It’s nutty. And confusing, And wonderful. But mostly confusing.
I’m ordering Balanced Libraries today. Once it arrives and I can get a more informed perspective on the content, I’ll discuss the topic form that angle.
* I was looking for my book. I’m not ashamed. What author doesn’t want to see their book pop up on Amazon? That’s bona fide, right there. It hasn’t appeared yet, but soon though!
† Lucy really should write more posts. But then Rupert would want his own login and then there’d be dozens of posts about the fly he was chasing this morning and those pesky sunbeam motes. Then the blog would be cited in Cat Fancier Magazine or the Journal of Feline Studies and you just know they’d spin things way out of whack.