Last month I read this post from Sarah Houghton, and this passage struck me-
I’m not writing as often, not by a long shot. My average was 61 posts per month in 2004 and in 2013 my average is 2 posts per month. Part of the reason is that I can’t write about much of what I do in my daily work now due to confidentiality, good taste, prudence, and respect. I would love to write about progressive discipline, coaching employees, facilities emergencies, presenting to City Council, dealing with other city departments, being “politic” without bullshitting anyone, banning patrons, and a host of other things that fill my days. But I can’t.
That’s a big problem for a blogger. In fact, I would say that in many cases, the more experiences you have, the more you learn, the more you know, the less you have to write about. There is simply too much that is off limits within the parameters of one’s own job.
A blogger can choose to write about the broader issues that stretch across the profession and are not tied directly to one’s job. The problem there is that if one chooses to challenge a popular viewpoint or directly address a controversial issue, one can probably expect to be attacked, demeaned, and generally dismissed by those who disagree with them. You can view a comprehensive list of related posts here in case you’re wondering what I mean.
So what’s left to write about? Technology news, the philosophy behind the purpose of libraries, library trends and developments, the latest and greatest achievements–all good stuff worthy of a blog post. Also stuff that probably won’t generate a lot of intense discussion. There may be a lot of kudos and high fives and thoughtful discourse, but nothing that will get to the heart of deeply rooted interpersonal relationships and differing perspectives that are often a source of contention and obstruction in any profession.
If we can’t write about the issues closest to us, and we can’t disagree on the broader issues without dissolving into contemptuous debate, there is very little of substance left to say. Maybe substance isn’t the right word because educational, philosophical, and instructional blog posts and articles do have substance. But they don’t have much to do with relationships between and among people, which is really where the heart of the matter usually resides.
I believe that the mission of librarians is to connect people to one another, and as Roy Tennant recently said, to empower. I believe we do a good job of that in our communities. I believe we could sometimes do a better job of that among ourselves.
Do you believe librarians empower each other to speak our minds even if what we say crosses an invisible cultural line? Or do we empower only those we agree with and verbally destroy the rest?