Dorothea hits all the right notes as she talks about blogging while employed, and also something else I never thought I’d see: apparently she’s been accused of being too fangirly. So, there’s two important points I want to touch on; blogging and having a job, and this idea of the perils of fangirlism (shall we say).
Blogging while employed isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. First, there’s the question; how much of your job do you want to put on your blog? My employer has been extremely supportive of me keeping a blog (we have academic freedom and all that), and my co-workers let me know when they think I’ve said something interesting. My blog has been a great learning experience for me over the years, and it’s a good archive of the things I’ve felt passionate enough about to tap out some words about. On that score, it’s a little bit like an extension of my research interests, and for my purposes that’s very helpful. After almost a year on the job, I’m less conflicted about what to say, and more challenged by finding the time to say it. What’s happened to me is this: the energy I have about my profession is going into my day job; the energy I have to write on a daily basis is going into my manuscript. That leaves precious little for this space some days. I feel, however, that this is a temporary blip; I put some effort into a redesign recently, and I that’s prompted me to take the time to throw some words on its crisp new pages.
Where do those words come from? Enthusiasm. No one sits down in their spare time to write about something they don’t feel something about. Enthusiasm is what keeps us going, it’s what keeps us interesting and interested. What, we should take the enthusiasm out, but keep the daily grind in?
I applaud Dorothea’s call to take the starch out of librarian blogging. This is the same conversation we’ve been having since the whole “there are no academic librarians blogging” fiasco from the summer. It seems some folks want our personal blogs to be 100% professional. (“Professional”, as Dorothea would have it.) Let’s not fall into this trap. We don’t owe the world a purely professional blog on our own time. What makes our profession is the people; our personalities, our aspirations, our goals and dreams. Those things are going to shine through. And I think that’s a good thing. If you want wholly professional posts from us, just grab the feeds from those categories, bub. Let us keep the personal in the loop here.
And about this idea of fangirling. I think Dorothea and I are on exactly the same track about this one. You have to have the space to be jubiliant about other people. It’s mission critical. Family Man Librarian appears to have been looking for “subjective” reports from the Computers in Libraries conference, and encountered Dorothea’s joy at meeting other librarians instead. (Note to the profession: subjectivity is dead, and blogs are not newspapers.) Is fangirling a problem?
You know, if you do it when you mean it, and not when you’re a) trying to get something, b) trying to rub elbows with “famous” people, c) doing it because you feel you should, I think it’s exactly the right thing. And if it’s not, my modus operandi has to change, because my entire world is shaped around when and where I feel the need to fangirl.
Last summer, we had a guest speaker come up from the downtown campus to speak to us about a web project that was about start going live. I had never heard of this speaker before, and in fact didn’t catch his name at the beginning of the talk, but I was so spellbound throughout that I absolutely had to corner him after the fact and gush at him about what he was saying, and how much I agreed, and how inspired I was by his words. That single conversation has lead to a chain of events I could never have strung together back then; showing enthusiasm, real, true, honest enthusiasm, is one way to develop lasting professional and personal connections. In sum: fangirling can be good for the profession, your institution and your career.
Long live the fangirl!