There have been two very good, complementary posts in the past couple of days. Andy over at Agnostic Maybe discusses the Illusion of Unity in the library world while Dr. Steve over at 21st Century Library Blog discusses the problem of localization of issues and how leadership is needed within and for each specific library community. Both of these posts come at the same problem from different angles. Read these posts. They’re good and important.
But what strikes me is this: there are so many voices talking about so many issues from so many different angles–where is the unity in the blogosphere? Well, not unity, because we need dissenting voices, but where is the mechanism by which all voices can be discovered and heard?
For every library-related blog post I read (I probably follow about 15 via my Google Reader), I’m sure there are 20 that I’m missing. I’m not suggesting that each of us follow every library blog–that would be impossible. But why is there no central location to “register” a library blog? Or is there? With so many different hosts and platforms, I doubt there is such a thing.
I Googled “library blogs” (when I say “library blog” I’m not talking about blogs put up by libraries) and came up with a few hits for lists of the “top” library blogs, which are subjective at best. And the blogs listed are already well known, and for good reason. They’ve been around for a while, they have a lot of followers and a large viewership/readership. I also found some directories and indexes, but as far as I can tell, these are not compiled with input from actual bloggers. They are simply compiled by observation. And I don’t see my blog on any lists. But this isn’t about me. It’s about all new voices. And how every voice should have the opportunity to be heard.
So what about the new voices? How do they get heard? It takes time to develop a readership, to be sure. I should know–I’m in that process myself. But what if the best ideas, the best leadership, the best vision is out there in cyberspace on some little- known, under-viewed blog?
It would be great if ALA or some other national/international organization or publication would establish a national/international registry for library-related blogs. A place where bloggers could go and register their own blogs–provide the name, URL, and a brief statement about their point of view and what they hope to accomplish and what issues are important to them and why. If this does exist, then somebody please direct me to it!
Why not establish a central location where interested readers could go and find the blogs that interest them? Right now, it seems as if the same blogs get attention because the posts are widely disseminated. I should know because I help to disseminate them! I’m not saying they’re not deserving–they are. There is good content, frequency of posting, and an adherence to high standards with regard to writing.
But if we’re looking to establish a national dialogue about the issues that all libraries have in common, then we need a place to go to find the people–the lesser-known voices–who are trying to engage readers in just that kind of dialogue.
I don’t think blogging should be competitive. I think there should be a way to find others who share an affinity for the issues that matter to each of us. And finding those people shouldn’t be based on popularity or having an already established following or being sponsored by a national publication or organization.
I’m certain that there are librarians out there–new and established–who are writing their hearts out and nobody knows or cares. At least if they had the chance to put their names on a list or registry, then they would have a fair shake at attracting readers. And maybe, just maybe, these lesser-known blogs are hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.
And maybe, just maybe, this is the dumbest idea ever. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had unrealistic expectations. But libraries need all the viewpoints, perspectives, and angles that are out there. In order to find them, we need to know about them. The viewpoints and perspectives can remain fragmented–that leads to good discussion. But the forums for these discussions should be united, if possible, under a common umbrella, which allows us all to see what is being said and by whom. And then we can begin to find commonality, which could be the beginning of a much bigger discussion rather than simply having the loyal few following the random threads on the blogs that are going to be read anyway.