Keeping a Blog and Keeping your Job: Not a Guide

To start, the reason I have not been updating as much lately has nothing to do with the issues I’m about to peruse; I currently have no internet connection at home, and writing lengthy blog posts while at work seems inappropriate.

But my questions have changed now that I’m seriously on the job and completely open abou the existence of my blog while at work; how do you manage the line between being honest, tackling the issues, and not ruffling the feathers of the people you work with? Not just your boss, not just the chief librarian or the head of your department, but your colleagues, the faculty you work with, and the people you argue with in meetings? A blog should not be a ranty response to these people. A blog should not be the place where you post the things you wish you could say, but might have gotten lynched for. The last thing I want is for someone to return from a meeting, check out my blog, and see that I’ve responded negatively in public to an idea she presented in private.

Maybe this is why some people think there are no academic librarians with blogs. Is that what they’re waiting for? For us to dish about the dark corners of our institutions, to pillory those among us who are standing in our way? To reply in a forum like this against the vendors who want our budget dollars, the faculty members who don’t want to replace their overhead projectors with document cameras, the librarians who can’t move past the practices established twenty or thirty years ago? The hotshot new IT folks who think they have a clue and start pushing for changes that will not solve a thing?

I still intend to keep my blog, and to keep it in the same fashion I have been. But I am very aware of the changes to my own perspective on it. I embrace those changes in many ways; being careful about other people is never something I’m going to back away from. But I need to underscore that this blog does not reflect the inner workings of the library where I am employed; it does not uncover the dark sides of meetings I attend, and it does not even cast too much light on the directions my own library will take. How do you distill what is entirely of yourself when you spend most of your day in the midst of the issues you also want to talk about, among incredibly knowledgable, thoughtful, and optimistic people? Take everyone else out, let your voice only be your own? Let your opinions on issues be only yours? Not easy. Is it even possible?

My new struggle with this blog is to remain as honest as ever, as optimistic as ever, and to speak with a voice that stands a step away from my job. Not that my job won’t affect what I think or what I say, but I want my voice to remain purely mine, and with an audience that is not only external and not only internal. This may be more of a struggle about retaining a sense of independence than one of toeing the party line.

I can understand why lots of professionals feel unable to keep a blog. No one wants to keep a journal that’s so institutionally correct that they can’t express what they think; but no one wants to make enemies because of their hobbies, either.

Tricky.

2 thoughts on “Keeping a Blog and Keeping your Job: Not a Guide”

  1. Difficult situation. But I have a suggestion. If you are seen as faculty at the university, as I think you’ve said you are, then you should be covered by the notions of academic freedom to post what you think is appropriate as a professional in your field. Of course tenure, and the librarian equivalent is what should protect you, and waiting until that kicks in will give you a modicum of protection, but in any event, I think that you should check that your contract and the union behind you supports your right to have an opinion and voice it at appropriate public venues, such as conferences and your blog. You know I’ve always blogged on issues relating to my academic life, and have only had minor problems. Good luck!

  2. Well. It’s me, finally. I feel weird just commenting on your blog (which I enjoy mightily, I might add).

    It’s very odd to write your thoughts for others to read and consider, without knowing who those people might be. I think blogging is a very interesting form of communication, but daunting.

    I posted my first blog entry at work (not on my own blog), and had a complete panic attack over the wording, content, perception. Like someone flipped a big spot-light and caught me in the beam.

    I am reassured by your contemplation regarding the purpose and audience of the blog. It’s not as easy as it looks. Maybe it gets easier with practice and experience.

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