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Taking Stock: 15 minutes, blogging, and librarians

December 20, 2010

Taking stock is what one of my favorite literary characters–Hans Castorp in Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg/The Magic Mountain–managed to do for years on end before he decided to go get himself killed in WWI. Me? I skip the trench warfare and take stock annually rather than full time.

Lately, I’ve found new enthusiasm to write posts for this particular blog. Yes, yes. It’s 2010, and blogging is passé and soooooo 2005ish. Whatever. Sure, the cool kids have moved on, if only to Angry Birds, but apparently half of humanity still writes blogs, and my stats tell me that at least a handful of generous souls read mine, so on it goes. I’ve blogged, for both professional and personal reasons, in one place or another since 2004 and have come to appreciate its myriad uses.

Back in February, I experienced a rare moment of semi-fame, when a post on this blog (a semi-serious flowchart about when to use du and Sie in German) was mentioned on Spiegel Online, Germany’s leading news publication. Within hours, my stats had gone through the roof. This is what 15 minutes of blogging fame looks like when graphed:

Were my traffic always at the level it was on February 22 of this year, I could kiss my library job goodbye and live off Web advertising à la Dooce et al. Love how that spike makes my normal traffic appear perilously close to the x-axis.

It’s fun to write this particular blog and take random approaches to a wide swath of library and media issues. Getting comments–both on the blog and backchannel–from readers makes my day, as it does any blogger’s, at least those big enough to admit it. Sometimes I wonder what I could do differently to become a star library blogger, so that I could fund my retirement with Google AdWords revenue. That’s a joke, by the way, at least the last part.

One thing I could do would be to change the name of this blog. As already confessed, it was a spontaneous decision during my most recent residency in Germany. It probably scares the hell out of people (ach, nein, ze Germans!) when it pops up in search results, but somehow it seems wrong to change the name at this point. It is what it is. Many librarian-penned blogs have library or librarian in the title, and I want to avoid that particular pigeonhole. I am proud of what I do for a living, but I want to have a conversation with a wider audience, and those words put up a barrier.

I also wonder if there are topics or approaches that would interest those who stop by or subscribe to the feed. Many are on my mind, including:

  • more posts on questionable publishers, e.g.- Peter Lang, Lambert, etc.
  • thoughts on open source projects
  • open access publishing in libraries and its future directions

but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s lurking in my head, and of course I will occasionally indulge myself and rant about DRM, which I do so hate.

To close out the 2010 blogging year the right way, I would like to thank everyone who reads this blog, and give a big shout out to those who leave comments, which are often more insightful than the post that inspired them. Keep those coming, and don’t be shy. If you have suggestions/complaints/ideas, share them in the comments below, or via the channel of your choice. Enjoy the holidays!

  1. December 20, 2010 13:41

    Weiter so! … And don’t change the name! It will bring you seven years of bad blogging. 😉 I can only write for myself but I think I’d skip the rants about questionable publishers, most of them probably being American publishing houses I never heard of…
    I really liked and like to read about all the copyright and drm issues, though I kind of have to “sell” a drm “borrowing” system here at my local library myself, which often leaves me quarreling between my personal, my librarian-libertarian attitude and my loyalty towards the employer but at the same pushes me into the interesting position of trying to understand each one involved’s points of view… librarianship is a lot about this struggle between being an ambassador and a leaker at the same time, isn’t it? 😉

    • Dale permalink*
      December 21, 2010 12:46

      Danke! And thanks for supporting my desire to keep the name. I’ll probably stick to my plan about bad publishers, and since the next two targets have a foot in Germany, perhaps they will hit closer to home. Ironically, these posts are among the most frequently read on my blog, and I have received multiple emails from people telling me that my posts helped them to decide not to place a manuscript with these publishers.
      Yep, I think you hit the nail on the head. We have an obligation to behave legally as librarians, but at the same time we have to literally go to the bleeding edge to defend the user’s right to information free of unnecessary fetters. I am currently reading Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars by William Patry, which puts something of a legal and philosophical basis under this librarianly dichotomy. Needless to say, copyright and DRM are near to my heart, so the posts in that direction are inevitable. Moving to Canada will likely bring them to the fore again, and I look forward to chronicling my experience and putting it into terms of what is actually the law and what is simply industry practice devoid of a legal basis.

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