Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Putting In Your Oar

It's been quite a month! I've been blogging here a bit less than I'd planned, and I've been thinking a lot lately about why that might be.

There's a style of writing and conversation that suggests a slow entry, grasping the crux of the topic at hand before "putting in your oar" and offering your own thoughts. It's an image I love, handed to me by Kenneth Burke through Graff & Birkenstein's They Say/I Say. (The bane of my undergraduate freshman writing course, admittedly, but it held ideas that have affected my writing ever since.)

I feel very much in that position--I'm coming to librarianship with an odd mix of background knowledge and utter inexperience, and I've not *quite* caught the threads of conversation yet. There's certainly a surfeit of places to track the conversation, not to mention the many possible conversations to have! Librarians are nothing if not engaged, and you can find them talking about gaming, haptics, copy[right/left], education, reference, and anything else that catches their considerable fancy.

There are some things that help, though:

Read whatever you can find
...-- Librarians are a vocal bunch, and we like to blog, report our research, vent on twitter, and network publicly. Get an RSS feed--Google Reader is perhaps the most helpful tool I have in my arsenal--and start reading! It doesn't matter if you only skim the surface, you'll still get a sense of who's talking about what. Ask your network what they're reading, and how they keep up with the trends in the field.

Ask for advice! --More than just asking what people are reading, ask them where you should be going. Librarians are in the business of helping people, and that includes other librarians! I've never seen a field with more enthusiasm, especially for students coming into library school. Also, librarians are good at networking. Scary-good. Can-get-you-in-contact-with-anyone good. It comes in handy--don't be shy.

Limit your options. A world with no limits can be wonderful, but ultimate freedom can also be paralyzing. Focus your inquiry, and find out if you actually like that aspect of librarianship, early and often. There's plenty of time to explore--lifelong learning is a wonderfully convenient side of what we do.

Put in your oar. Take the plunge. Start your engines. Begin. The rest will take care of itself.

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