Hi – just a message to say I’m signing off here to pursue a new level of advocacy in 2011. This will be my last post. As anyone who has ever trekked through new territory knows, it’s important to step off the trail now and then to nourish yourself and check your compass. After nearly 2 years, it’s a good time for me to do so.
I began blogging in early 2009, uncertain of who might tune in and what might help the cause. So I put a range of material out there: posts about why I love libraries, reports of libraries in crisis, analyses and calls to action. I also read extensively and contacted people throughout the ecosystem to ask questions and share ideas. By year-end I’d recognized that library staff represented the blog’s small but steadily growing readership and also that much of my content was redundant; material in the “I Love Libraries” vein was plentiful as was surveillance of funding struggles.
So I changed things up for 2010. My research turned to the inner workings of the Institution, including its knowledge creation practices. This helped dissolve my ideological stance and mythological view of libraries and enhanced my ability to appreciate the challenges and opportunities before them. I crafted content for a library audience, made it more analytical and focused on topics and viewpoints that were not widely covered by other advocates or library bloggers. These were productive changes. Readership grew and communication with the library community became bi-directional; I continued to reach out and people began to contact me as well. Phone and email dialogue with library folk from around the country became more frequent. Library Journal solicited a few essays and asked me to be a panelist in their first virtual summit. I also received some speaking invitations and was able to attend the 3-day Reference Renaissance Conference in August.
I’m very pleased with the results this year. The blog content was better and has a longer shelf-life. Posts on participatory librarianship offer new ideas for how libraries can serve the public good in this age of information abundance. My proposal for a National Public Library Corporation is a feasible approach for reducing inefficiencies baked into our existing patchwork of library systems, making libraries more prominent in the public consciousness and alleviating some of the funding problems that threaten their viability. Most importantly, my work has seeded a new form of dialogue about our libraries – one that considers them nationally as well as locally and has greater porosity between the library community and the people it serves.
So why am I signing off if the results have been good? It’s mostly because the blog has served its purpose: to catalyze new conversations about libraries. If I published another 60 posts here in 2011, it’s hard to imagine they would have much impact on the health of our libraries. Also, plenty of library folk now know me as an advocate and new people find Radical Patron content every day via search, therefore additional posts would have diminishing returns as an outreach mechanism. So I’m changing things up again. Over the next year, I hope to deepen my relationships within the library community and would love to hear from folks about how I can help. I’ll also work to attract the public to dialogue about what we want from our libraries and how we can provide resources so they can deliver the services we’ve said are important.
The blog will remain accessible and people can reach me via the the contact form. I’ll also continue pointing to sources outside the library industry that may inform funding and practice via Twitter. And though I have no idea where this next leg of the journey will take me, I’m happy to send an update now and again. Sign-up for them via the form at the top of the sidebar if you’re interested. Your information will be kept private and used only for periodic messages about library advocacy.
I am excited by the prospect of reaching new heights in 2011 and sincerely hope our paths cross along the way. My best, Jean