A first attempt at library blogging…

Hello everyone!  I thought I would add my ramblings to the hundreds of library blogs already out there, and hope that somebody finds them useful/interesting.  Actually, I am trying my hand at blogging in preparation for the 23 Things for Professional Development course – aimed to introduce librarians to online tools which might help their professional development.

So first off, introductions and a confession.  I’m Emily – a graduate trainee in the information resources department at the Bodleian Law Library in Oxford.  I’m eight months into the year’s traineeship, and am now well acquainted with spine labels and tattle tape – the security strips that protect library books.  In fact, I’ve developed such great labelling and tattle taping skills that I’m not sure how the next trainee is ever going to live up to my high standards.  I’ve also (more importantly) been introduced to the world of libraries, from reclassification to legal research skills, and been lucky enough to benefit from the Bodleian training scheme.  Highlights so far have been trips to the conservation department (“oh by the way, this lady’s just mending Kafka’s birth certificate”), and an insight into the world of e-resources (they’re jolly expensive).  I’ve also been impressed by the excellent range of tea and biscuits.  Thank you Bodleian.

Yesterday I received the happy and fairly unexpected news that I had got AHRC funding for the MA in Librarianship at Sheffield University, so – buoyed up by the thought of heading Northwards next year – I decided to give the cpd23 course a go.

Now for the confession.  When I was applying for trainee posts, I suddenly discovered the hidden world of library bloggers, and found them interesting and a good introduction to information work – after all, if you haven’t worked in a library before you only have a very hazy idea about what being a librarian involves.  And when I started at Oxford, we were encouraged to contribute to the Oxford Trainees Blog .  Enthusiastic librarians extolled the virtues of social media and got decidedly grumpy when anyone dared to disagree.

I’m afraid to say that I got a bit overwhelmed by the whole social media onslaught, took a step back, and didn’t contribute a single post to the blog.  I felt that there were so many library voices out there online that I couldn’t follow them all, and my own contributions wouldn’t be that useful.  I also had the nagging feeling that the obsession with using social media in libraries seemed a little odd to anyone outside the information profession – the hundredth blank look you receive when you ask a student friend whether they would think of following a library twitter account is a little dispiriting.

As the year has gone on, I’ve made the concerted effort to overcome my doubts, and have discovered the great benefits of a twitter account (for myself – I’m still not convinced that library twitter accounts are well used, but am prepared to be proved otherwise).  I read library blog posts that pop up on my twitter feed, and find them interesting and informative.  I have heard examples of online tools such as Delicious being used successfully in smaller, subject based libraries, and am looking forward to hearing about how libraries are using the other tools discussed in cpd23.

I still think libraries should be careful about what social media they embrace – as a student library user, nothing put me off more than a long list of blogs/twitter accounts/ facebook pages that seemed to be there only for the sake of being there, and didn’t contain any useful information.  Even worse would be when they hadn’t been updated properly and their information was out of date.  But I am looking forward to discovering how social media can have a positive impact on libraries, and hearing from other information professionals about their own experiences with online tools.

So that’s me – still slightly cynical about social media but prepared to learn about it with an open mind.  I look forward to reading everyone else’s blogs along the way!