Monday, March 13, 2006

A little note on reading and keeping up

I started this post as a reply to Mark Lindner's post on "LIS Graduate Education and Reading" in his blog . . .the thoughts are broken. . . . As it often happens, what I intend to be a short comment becomes something a bit longer, so I figured I would develop the idea here. Readers may want to go over to Mark's blog and read that first to get the context. Go on, I can wait.

OK, if you made it back, what caught my attention where points #6 and #7 on the list he made in the post. It's the stuff about reading and keeping up that I found interesting. I will say that keeping up with the professional literature has been challenging. When I discovered the biblioblogosphere, I added that to my reading lists, or rather my reading regime. After that, I have various journals on TOC alerts through various database providers like EBSCO, Emerald, and some others. If any readers look over my article notes, they will see that after I give the citation, I specify where I read it from (print, Emerald, etc). However, setting those up has been done on my own. My library does not provide a TOC service for the campus. And don't even get me started on the routing issue. Were it not for some TOC alerts, there would be journals we receive I would never see thanks to some of my colleagues, that shall remain nameless, who let them sit at their desks for months on end. The point in this is that I have had to train myself, whether via alerts or lists I made, to make sure that I seek out the stuff that I am supposed to read for my professional growth. My library does not have access to an LIS database either, so this cuts a bit on what I can get as well. True, EBSCO just opened their LISTA database for free access, but still, it's not LISA or LLIS, but it's a start. We do subscribe to the LLIS in print, but it means I have to go find it every once in a while. What I am trying to say that keeping up takes work and commitment. For many librarians, whether newly minted or veterans, it could be easier to avoid a lot of this work. And I am just referring to the professional stuff. Any readers who looked over the links I put above about reading lists will get a sense of what else I dip into, so to speak.

As for spare time reading, it has lowered a bit when it comes to professional stuff. When I get home, I often read blogs, but they are all outside the biblioblogosphere. Over time, I have discovered that I can only take so much when it comes to the biblioblogosphere. Then again, reading a lot of that territory has gotten a bit easier become the biblioblogosphere has become pretty predictable: L2, Web 2.0, the latest gadget, ALA complaints and praise (in various memes. The current one is just the latest incarnation. The praise often seems to come from those inside who would like to keep a good share of others from leaving. I am not even saying anything now), and more technology. Except for a couple of non A-list bloggers, I pretty much scan and move on when it comes to the biblioblogosphere these days. And to think I was so thrilled there was such a thing. Oh well, I have other things to keep up with.

Mark mentions that he is a freak when it comes to professional reading. I will admit that I do feel freaky myself at times. In my case, maybe it's because I see it as a Catch-22. I would not be a good librarian if I did not keep up with diligence and effort with as much as possible in my profession. In fact, the teacher-practitioner model I live by demands this. On the other hand, I work in a very hands-on place where doing much of this keeping up could be seen as a luxury. At least, I've felt that way. I know I am not the only one. One of my colleagues recently said she had not read professional literature in a long time when she got a new issue of some journal routed to her. She has been busy, just like the rest of us, in a fairly intense environment where we are very active doing what we do, namely serve our students and academic community. So at times I get the feeling of "I could be finishing that new pathfinder" or any number of other tasks instead of reading professional stuff. You see, they don't tell you this in library school: that you have to figure out on your own how to find this balance. Overall, I think I do pretty well. I am fairly well informed (notice I say "fairly." I am sure there is some monster out there to whom I would be barely literate. Since I don't aspire to be the ubermensch of librarianship, I could care less what the celebrities think), and my work gets done. But once in a while, I wonder. Usually I wonder when I take the time to think about things like this. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a few other things to read.

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