I got an anonymous question on Tumblr:
I’m really trying to stay on top of current trends in the academic library field without having a ton of money to go to national conferences…what are your favorite blogs, listservs, tumblarians, etc. to follow or even websites to get news from our community? I feel like I’m always behind…or following things that are more just noise than good sources of trends. When I was in library school it was easier but now not as much. Thank you so much!
This question may have been inspired by my last post, where I wrote “be able to name trends! Be able to discuss trends! I’ve seen candidates be confused about this question. How does that happen?”
So — staying on top of trends. First, two pieces of advice before I recommend a few blogs:
- There may be local conferences in your area that are more affordable than national conferences. For example, where I live, there’s an annual one-day conference on library instruction called CCLI. These types of local conferences — with no travel costs, hotel costs, and a lower registration fee — are more feasible for those with a limited budget, but still supply a ton of value. They connect you with local professionals, help you learn trends relevant to your area, and you often learn about forthcoming jobs before they hit national listservs. I don’t know if I’d have my present job if I hadn’t attended CCLI four years ago, when my (then-future, now-present) boss was a keynote speaker.
- Find a local mentor you can sit down with, hopefully someone who doesn’t work at your institution (if you’re employed). Getting the perspective of someone who works in a different environment is a good way to learn what’s happening beyond your local silo. I had lunch yesterday with the librarian who mentored me when I was an intern and it was tremendous, and made me realize I should do that more often.
Reading is free
If you can’t afford conference travel (without the workplace support I get, I wouldn’t be able to either), the most affordable way to keep up on the profession is following smart, interesting bloggers (whether or not you always agree with their viewpoint). I’ve seen a few folks out there bemoaning the current state of library blogging, but I still find a lot of good ideas and information out there. Here are a few (not all) of the blogs that I follow:
- Char Booth, info-mational.
- Meredith Farkas, Information wants to be Free.
- Jessica Olin & guest contributors, Letters to a Young Librarian.
- Brian Mathews, The Ubiquitous Librarian.
- Jacob Berg, Beerbrarian.
- Chris Bourg, Feral Librarian.
- Karen G. Schneider, Free Range Librarian.
Full disclosure: one of these is my boss. Some of the others are my friends. I am not bias-free. Who is?
(again, partial — I follow well over 500 total tumblrs):
- The Lifeguard Librarian
- Library Journal
- Libral Thinking
- John X Libris
- Danielle Westbrook
- metadata princess
Some of these are professionally focused, some are not, but I enjoy following them all. I enjoy the mix of personal and professional on tumblr.
I also follow a lot of public librarians (you can good ideas to port over!), institutions, and submission blogs like Librarian Wardrobe. You can browse the tumblarian list for both institutions and individuals to follow.
You should also check in on C&RL, the open access journal of the ACRL, and C&RL News, its non-peer reviewed outlet. I also like the OA Communications in Information Literacy. I prefer to support open access LIS journals, which are accessible to those who don’t have the advantage of institutional access.