Twitter & blogs as ways of knowing

Oct 13 2009 Published by under acad lib future, academia, librarianship, social media

A silly title to reflect some overhyped posturing found, guess where, on the Internet.

First up, Joe Murphy on librarians and their proper relationship to Twitter: "it's reprehensible for information professionals not to be on Twitter."

A loaded and diva-dramatic statement like that is a sure sign that Twitter has jumped the shark. Time to pull a Miley Cyrus, if you ask me. (Friendfeed discussion here, here and here)

On the other end of the spectrum, from Steven Bell over at ACRLog, on the use of social networks by librarians:

A passionate academic librarian would be so immersed in their work that he or she would not only not have time for such questionable diversions, but would be so caught up in their work that they would hardly even contemplate stopping for a little break. I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with the occasional social network visit - it may even be beneficial in giving our brains a needed rest. A truly passionate academic librarian just wouldn't go there. (Friendfeed discussion here.)

It seems we have two "experts" both looking at the same issue -- the use of online social networks by librarians. One says that to ignore a particular example is professional suicide, the other says that they are time-wasters, implying they have no worthwhile professional use.

I know where I stand -- in the middle.

How about you?

14 responses so far

  • *looks both ways*

    Yep. Looking awfully middlish where I'm standing.

  • Need I say? In this case, not being in the middle is simply reprehensible. (No, I still don't use emoticons.)

  • Wayne B-T says:

    Were feathers ruffled or eyes rolled? These Ivy League librarians take themselves much too seriously.

  • John Dupuis says:

    Wayne, I think it was more eyes rolled and snarks snarked than anything more diabolical. At worst, maybe the occasional snort of derision.

    Of course the irony is that usually such ponderous pronouncements are attention seeking ploys, for which we all fell.

    Perhaps I should follow the example and start taking myself more seriously too. That Ivy League guy has 5x more followers on Twitter than I do 😉

  • steveb says:

    Hey John. I left a comment here last night - addressing the problem of sharing just a few sentences from my post which fails to provide the context in which the statement was originally offered. I hope you'll publish the comment.

  • stevenb says:

    I actually left the reply here:

    Perhaps not the same? If you didn't get the comment I'll add it again here.

  • John Dupuis says:

    Hi Steven,

    No, I didn't get the comment. I don't moderate the comments here and there's nothing in the spam folder.

    As for that other site, they're just republishing without my knowledge or permission.

  • stevenb says:

    Thanks for reading ACRLog and sharing the post, but I think the section provided in your post is a bit misleading of my intentions when taken out of context of both the entire post and the article on which the post is based. I don't know if you read the NYT article about passion. I'm basically testing the definitions of passion identified by the experts in the article. If you take what they say at face value, then a librarian who is not totally immersed in their day-to-day work is not a passionate librarian. I am using time spent in social networks as an example of an activity that would take one away from day-to-day work (although some point out that it is part of their work - it can also a casual distraction from work)and thus classify a librarian as not being passionate. I'm not saying I agree with that - and even take issue with the definition of passion at the end of my post. So to characterize my position on social networks as a waste of time that has no value is incorrect. If that were true, why would I be using them personally and encouraging our library to have a presence in them. I think there is some danger in just providing a snippet of a post and then drawing a conclusion from it - and worse - others read what you wrote - and make their judgments about the post or me based solely on what you've written - not on what I wrote or the original article on which I based my post.

    I hope you'll keep reading ACRLog and share some of our other posts with your readers. Thanks. Steven

  • John Dupuis says:


    Point well taken. I hadn't read the NYT piece when I wrote my initial post and I think I see more what you were trying to accomplish, especially with your expansion here and in the comments on the original blog post.

    On the other hand, I (and probably many others) would probably still maintain that a passionate engagement in academic librarianship can still include a passionate engagement with fellow professionals in online social networks. I guess our disagreement ultimately comes down to focus vs. peripheral vision, temporary "flow" vs long term engagement. I think the Friendfeed threads I link to above provide some more food for thought.

    I think this is a great example of passion.

  • RY Hou says:

    Watching people extrapolating Twtter to a way of acquiring professional informations makes me feel somewhat despair irrespective of the validity of both claims. In our wonderful homeland China, access to Twitter has been censored since at least 3 months ago. Such a thrombus irritates far beyond the community of we young scientists.

  • steveb says:

    John - if you were to go back to my article on Passion for the Profession - the one I published in portal back in 2003 you would see that I discuss five areas in which academic librarians develop professional passion. You would also be glad to see that one of them is all about connections with professional colleagues. So way back then I was pointing out the importance of establishing professional networks as a component of achieving professional passion. Whether it takes place at conferences, via phone conversations or online in networks is of less importance than committing to be engaged with colleagues. So on that point we are in agreement.

  • John Dupuis says:

    RY, thanks for providing a bit of much-needed perspective on our social media habits.

  • Gail says:

    I was there... best moment was the next speaker deadpanning that she's not on Twitter, "really." And then getting down to business (good talk on bioinformatics librarianship).

    It's unfortunate when people let the soapbox got in the way of their message. I'm firmly in the middle, and open to a compelling demonstration of Twitter's value. So far, for me, it just duplicates other current awareness and conversation tools. I don't need an additional stream with the same content. (e.g. a Tweet that so-and-so has a new blogpost, when my RSS feed already told me so).

  • John Dupuis says:

    Thanks, Gail. Oh to have been a fly on the wall...

    Being a good bioinformatics librarians is just as much a part of the future of libraries as being a mobile librarian -- possibly more so because expertise in bioinformatics is a concrete skill we can offer to our patrons. Being mobile is just another way of delivering that expertise. It's part of a changing toolbox of ways to deliver value to our patrons.

    I guess the ideal would be to be a mobile bioinformatics librarian!

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