Exploring professional LIS Blogs: ArchivesNext and Mr. Library Dude

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Blogging has become one of the best, most efficient ways for people to express their personal opinions about various topics. This tactic especially comes in handy for professionals in a given field who want to share their views about the industry with their colleagues and enlighten the public about what makes their industry so special. In the LIS profession, for instance, there are tons of blogs dedicated to specific areas of interest, and many libraries and well as companies host blogs on their websites to further engage their audience.

Two blogs that I have chosen to explore are ArchivesNext and Mr. Library Dude. I chose these blogs particularly for their vast exploration and candidness about two LIS areas, one of which deals with libraries and the other with archives.

ArchivesNext is written by Kate Theimer, a very experienced archivist, teacher, editor and writer who worked at the National Archives and Records Administration for six years. Her blog discusses issues facing archives, including technology, evolving business models, professional identity, professional organizations, and news and issues from other related professions.

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Since the beginning of the year, the main topic of discussion has been this new project that Theimer is planning to launch this year in which she will be sharing her experience and knowledge of archives with the general public. In reading the blog posts, it seems that Theimer is really trying to break archival administration out of this secret box that it seems to be in and explain the basics of the profession and what it is that archivists actually do on a daily basis. For instance, in her post on “the role of “the professional discipline” in archives and digital archives,” she explained exactly what an “archive” and “digital archive” is because in various professions the meaning of the words can be different from how professional archivists classify them.

This post was in reference to a news story she saw about the failed BBC project and the article referenced digital archives, but it was not used in the correct context. She noted that “archives and digital archives—collections, organizations, and places—that are administered in a manner that adheres to the professional discipline of archives are different than those that do not.” While the word archive can be used in a broader sense, there does need to be more of a clarification of the context it is being used in as to not confuse people who think they may be referring to various collections. I found Theimer’s goal of bringing the archival profession to the masses to be very inspirational and is a similar goal that I share. Oftentimes I find myself having to go into specific detail about the archival profession and what it is that archivists actually do.

Many times, when people hear the word “archive,” they may think of dusty old materials with little or no relevance to today’s society. But, this term has varied meanings and is not just limited to old, unimportant materials. According to Adrian Cunningham, archives take different forms, pursue different strategies and different combinations of objectives (2009, pg 203). Additionally, records are made as a means of conducting and/or remembering activities. They are created for pragmatic or symbolic purposes—as enablers and evidence of experience and activity, as aids to memory and/or as artifacts.” (2009, pg 192). So, I think for people to have a more well-rounded perspective of an archives and archivists’ purpose, they need to be educated whether it be through blog posts, workshops, or seminars so that the profession can establish a better re-pore with its core audience.

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Mr. Library Dude is a bit similar to to ArchivesNext in its bluntness about the LIS profession, but this blog focuses solely on the librarian and LIS students studying to become librarians. The blog is written by Joe Hardenbrook, who is currently a reference and instruction librarian at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. What drew me to this blog is its very candid subject matters regarding the LIS profession and the great advice he gives to LIS student preparing to enter the workforce. His first post for 2015, for instance, dealt with interviewing for a library job. In what Hardenbrook calls “Library Interviewee’s Bill of Rights” he spells out some major issues library staff tend to have when interviewing candidates for jobs and the overall hiring process.

Having been a professional librarian for over ten years, Hardenbrook has had his fair share of library interviews, so he mentions some tips that staff should follow such as giving the candidate time to prepare for a presentation, sending over interview schedule ahead of time and reimburses the candidates for expenses they accrue when they have to travel out of town to come to the interview. I believe these tips are helpful for any profession and it’s good that he is relaying these facts for future librarians so they know what to expect. Hardenbrook also brought up an issue that seems to prevalent in the LIS profession, which is workforce planning as well as hiring issues that have yet to be fixed.

” Workforce planning has never been a strength of the American library profession in general, or higher education for librarianship in particular. The field has rarely secured a dependable assessment of supply and demand for professional positions.… As a result, national, professional, and institutional strategies have not been developed to guide the preparation, advancement, and replacement of librarians” (Mika and Matarazzo,2004, pg. 115 ).

Another issue Hardenbrook tackles in his blog is the American Library Association and his disappointment with the organization. While you would think that any librarian would be fully endorsing the major library organization, Hardenbrook points out how a librarian can still be engaged in professional service without being a part of ALA and that there are a benefits that one can receive from ALA without paying for a full membership. This was a two part post where he discussed just why he doesn’t intend on renewing his membership and why the membership cost is so expensive. He brings up an issue that seems to be the case with a lot of organizations and how they encourage you to join, but don’t specify what you will actually get out of the membership besides access to newsletters and publication, and maybe a discount on the annual conferences.

Both ArchivesNext and Mr. Library Dude are blogs that LIS professionals and LIS students should check out because they offer very interesting perspectives on the field.

SOURCES

James, M., & Joseph, M. (2004). Workforce planning for library and information science.Library & Information Science Research, 26(2), 115-120.

Cunningham, Adrian.(2009). Archives. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, (pp. 192-207). New York: Taylor and Francis.

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