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One of Two Librarians at the Blogging and Journalism Conference

For the last few days I’ve been at the ALA Midwinter conference in Boston, and when I’ve blogged at all it’s been on PLA’s collective conference blog. This a very intentional post intended as a greeting to both my regular readers and to people finding this site through this list of participants at the Blogging and Journalism conference to be held this coming Friday and Saturday at Harvard.

Quite frankly, I got into the B&J conference after several days of intense begging with key movers and shakers in ALA after I stumbled across the conference website through one of the many journalism blogs I track. Interesting, I thought, and a minute later noticed that the conference is being sponsored in part by the American Library Association Office of Information Technology Policy.

I made the point to ALA muckety-mucks (as I groveled and licked boots) that we were underwriting a conference to which we were sending no bloggers, journalists, or (outside of OITP staff) librarians. ALA doesn’t have a blog, either, making its sponsorship of this conference doubly ironic. (ALA is now talking about establishing a blog. If you are a librarian-writer and you want to be part of that conversation, give me a holler, because I think it would work best as a team effort; in fact, I’ll toss my ideas out in a day or two, when I’m not in meetings all day and night.)

Librarianship and journalism are facing similar issues–issues such as ethics and high-trust and credibility. Much of the debate within journalism is echoed with just a few word changes in librarianship, where we have both welcomed and fought with the new technologies that (to quote my comments at LITA’s Top Technology Trends discussion this past Saturday) turn information into a conversation. (I would link to the TTT talk, but the PLA blog was acting very strangely this morning. Check if you’re interested in my take on tech trends.)

As a writer and reader, I find journalists’ blogs, such as those of Jay Rosen and Dan Gillmor, are often the best reading on the Web. After reflecting on blogging and journalism and browsing the interesting materials on the B&J website, I began wondering–hoping–worrying–that journalists, should they take time to bother looking at librarians’ blogs, would be equally impressed by librarians’ blogs. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the case. Librarians tend to be the trailing edge of technology, and too many librarian blogs are amateurish, poorly-vetted, and reflect poorly on our profession. Too few librarians have taken our code of ethics to heart and applied it to our blogs. There are some stand-out librarian blogs, and I’ll talk about them over the next few days (that would make a good temporary shtick for this blog–and shtick’s what I lack). But overall, in this new medium we are still wearing training wheels (when we have even bothered to buy a bike in the first place).

I need to get back to my interminable meetings and their interminable reports. But before I disappear into the Black Hole of Association Governance, I’d like to draw new visitors to the Blogging and Ethics category on this blog. That particular thread, which isn’t really finished, really touched a nerve (which is a Good Thing; for one, now I have more readers!). But it intrigued me, and continues to tickle my brain during the rare quiet moments of the last several weeks, to think that I had ticked off some of my peers merely by calling for an emphasis on ethics and credibility in blogging similar to the ethics and credibility librarians insist on in their traditional work. Sound familiar, journalist-types?

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