I blog, therefore I am (doing 23 things)

I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time commenting on the Swinburne Library staff’s wonderful 23 Things blogs. It’s both exciting and enlightening to read about everyone’s 23 Things journeys, which range from the most experienced of pseudonymous authors writing involved dissertations on ‘the social Web’, to the freshest of new bloggers coming to terms with the nuances of the new medium. Each blog is unique and equally interesting; some of the most intriguing are written by the least confident bloggers.

For those readers not coming to this blog through the Swinburne 23 Things website (do I dare to hope that I might have some?), 23 Things is a brilliant concept devised by the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to help introduce library staff to the Web 2.0 world. Dana draws a parallel on her usability blog between 23 Things and the original 43 Things social experiment, which encouraged people to share their lifetime goals and monitor their progress publicly through the use of web technology.

Librarianship is considered by many to be an outdated profession. In a world where business, study and even life are increasingly conducted in a web-based environment, what place can the traditional custodian of books inhabit? Of course, the answer is simple – we need to inhabit a web space – but this can be a problem for librarians who learned their craft before the rise of Tim Berners-Lee. Like members of most 21st century workforces, staff in libraries vary widely in their education about and experience of technology.

As a new graduate (July 2007), I am probably somewhere between:

(‘Smash’, from practicalowl’s Flickr photos and reproduced under a Creative Commons License)



(‘Donut worry’, from the wonderful I Can Has Cheezburger blog … an explanation of my lolcat obsession will follow in future posts)

As a Curtin University of Technology distance education student, most of my contact with lecturers and other students happened via email and online forums. In the course of my study, I learned how to hard code HTML (probably very poorly, in my case) to create simple webpages; I built a basic catalogue database in Inmagic DB/TextWorks; and I learned how to apply traditional metadata principles to online resources. This means that for me, library knowledge is inextricably linked with technology. But I’m well aware that for many, this is not the case.

That’s why the 23 Things Program is such a good idea. It allows the less technologically able to work through the tasks at their own pace. For some of us, these ‘new’ technologies are no longer particularly new, but the program allows us to revisit some of our prior learning and think about ways to apply social technologies to the library context. The extremely erudite author of the 23 Things in One Day blog showed us how the tasks can easily be completed in two hours. He is to be congratulated on his speed, but I’m choosing to take another approach. I’m going to play the tortoise and align my pace with those bloggers lagging behind the pack. I’d like to think this is a good chance to get to know my colleagues better (including the ones who have chosen to use an alias), and show that it is possible to be a real librarian (that is, someone who helps guide others towards the acquisition of knowledge), whatever the medium in which we work.

Welcome to the future of the library … it’s bold and daring (and hopefully not full of cliches like this post).


7 Responses to I blog, therefore I am (doing 23 things)

  1. Sara Jervis says:

    We have chatted before about the pre 1990’s person/librarian and the post web world person/ librarian. As the world is not linear, in that we all change at different paces or stay the same, the world of business, banking, blogging, information resources has to keep apace with the old (ies) and ahead for the new. Your world may be profoundly different from mine, but we still pursue our professional lives the same way – professionally. If we had a race to answer a query, you would win IF the answer was available through the internet resources. I might win if the answer was in non internet- based resources. You also may still win in the latter case. This is going to be the case forever. The best, the very best “tool “- is between our ears. And the best thing about 23 things is that a group of people at Swinburne and wherever else the program operates, are sharpening and refining their tools.

  2. easternfunker says:

    “Librarianship is considered by many to be an outdated profession” – there are lots of professions seen as outdated, but they are still around and important, as all the “neatly packaged” things in this world sometimes just don’t meet someone’s requirement. That’s when the outdated profession is needed – and sometimes, sorely needed.

  3. Tony says:

    Thanks Rebecca, and Sara for your comments. One thing I don’t like of late is the really pro- and anti- brigade. I’d never really noticed a strong pro library 2.0 group but there seem to be vehement anti 2.0 people. I reckon it’s always been about using the best tool for the job and as we go forward some things continue because they still work (books) while others fall by the wayside because there are better replacements for them (does anyone really want to go back to microfiche?)

  4. Sara Jervis says:


    You can see my comments, so far, about Orlando Figes in my Library Thing.

    I am raving about him to anyone who listens. I am reading his book “A People’s Tragedy” about the Russian Revolution. Prof. Figes has used primary sources and never seen before archival records for his views on the catastrophic events of that period, which changed the world.

    Re “Reading Lolita in Tehran”, there is an item in the N Y Times today about university students protesting about the appointment of a cleric as president of a university. Academics have left or have been pushed out in protest. This is exactly the regime that the book is set in, half a generation ago! I absolutely adored the book. I found about myself, and for myself, what literature can do.

    The author teaches about Nabokov, F Scott Fitxgerald – “The Great Gatsby” and other selected authors at a university in Tehran. She is gradually shut out, for refusing to wear the proscribed garments following the Khomeni revolution. The irony is that her family had fled the Shah era to come back joyfully to celebrate the freedoms of the revolution.

    She then teachers literature to her postgraduate students in her home. There are so many things to say about this book, but principally it is about principles and literature. A reader constantly questions his or her own standards and principles as the events unfold.

    If you pick up a book to get you back to reading for pleasure, this is one to satisfy/gratify/stimulate, in every sense.

    PS I tried to post this directly on your blog, but there was a system error.

    PPS I am trying again

  5. kim says:

    Interesting discussion… I am firmly in the if it is useful – use it camp. Through 23 things I have discovered some tools that will be useful and others not so useful. For more this journey is made more interesting by the social networking that is occurring in the Library. Conversations over lunch, in corridors and online. It is invigorating. We are a diverse bunch and the library is the richer for it.

  6. […] others to use your photos for non-commercial purposes as long as they give you credit (as I did here). However, if you’re keen for your images remain the same when reproduced, and you […]

  7. […] … Y? This tortoise is lagging behind in the race to finish 23 Things. The hare has well and truly taken the flag, and […]

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