For the past six weeks I have been reading Closed Stacks and In the Library with the Lead Pipe. Both of them are collaborative blogs written by a variety of different types of librarians. I chose these two blogs because the collaborative nature appealed to me (I figured I would get many more perspectives on librarianship), as did the synopsis I read about each blog. I also hoped these blogs would be updated fairly regularly (which didn’t exactly happen, but it’s all good).
One thing that has struck me while reading these blogs is that each has discussed similar themes (particularly technology, advocating for libraries, and the financial constraints libraries are under), but in vastly different ways. The entries on Closed Stacks tend to read like personal journal entries, while the entries on In the Library with the Lead Pipe are much more like academic journal entries. (In fact, every post on ITLWTLP is peer-reviewed). Of the two, I find that I prefer the passionate tone of Closed Stacks. Now, all the writers on Closed Stacks use pseudonyms, allowing them to rant or vent as needed, while the contributors on ITLWTLP are writing under their real names, which can make a difference. For instance, it is clear that Brett Bonfield feels passionately about the issue he is discussing in this post, but he has to remain somewhat neutral; whereas Librarian_101 is able to vent her frustration at Meghan Gurdon’s recent Wall Street Journal article about YA literature in this post.
The major underlying theme I see in posts on both blogs is library advocacy. Most of the posts don’t specifically mention advocacy (except for this extremely enlightening post on In the Library with the Lead Pipe about library legislative advocacy), but the idea is always floating just below the surface. There was also this post on ITLWTLP about finding ways to quantify library impacts on student learning, something that will become more and more necessary as academic libraries have to prove their worth (or at least fight for their budget). Closed Stacks featured this post about the recent closing of the Central Falls (RI) Public Library and this post that declares a need for librarians to prove that libraries “are not just useful, but necessary.”
The post on the closing of the Central Falls Public Library contained a really great quote that I think all librarians (and librarians-in-training) should keep in mind:
We cannot save our libraries if people don’t understand the value. We need to get louder as a profession, or we won’t have a profession anymore. And we need to realize that it’s not about us, but the people who need us.
Not that these blogs are all doom and gloom. My favorite post at In the Library with the Lead Pipe was this one. Although the author is concerned about a future where libraries are the domain of the privileged (and not a way to cut through the digital divide), she is also hopeful that her dystopian vision will not come to pass. And she tells her story in such a charming way that it is almost impossible not to smile while reading it. This post at Closed Stacks was similar in that the author cautioned against making drastic changes to library services (in this case, declaring reference to be dead as opposed to declaring ebooks to be the end all, be all of the future) in a desperate attempt to seem “hip.” The author acknowledges that the world is changing, and thus the concept of reference librarianship, but is hopeful that embracing technology won’t mean getting rid of reference.
I have really enjoyed this activity. It was fascinating to read so many varied perspectives on various issues affecting librarianship. I will definitely continue to read Closed Stacks and I will also keep an eye on In the Library with the Lead Pipe.