Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blogs: a 21st century tool for a 21st century world

Here's the background: I am a librarian. A living, breathing MLS degree holding librarian with 19 years of experience.  When I started as a paraprofessional, I had to go downstairs to the one computer that had the program on it to look up books in Books in Print.  Today, I find out about books mainly online.  So let's talk about blogs, shall we?  I'll show you mine (favorites that is) if you show me yours.



[blawg, blog]  noun, verb, blogged, blog·ging.
1. a Web site containing the writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites. (from

I am also a blogger.  I have a blog.  You're reading it right now. Thanks by the way.  Stephanie and I prefer to think of it as a "professional development website".  But conventional wisdom calls it a blog.  At this point in the game blog refers more to how the content is uploaded and organized as opposed to the content itself.  Many professional websites also have a blog portion of that site to maintain a dialogue with their visitors.

Blogs are this sometimes nefarious thing because as we all know, the Internet allows everyone to become content creators.  It's easy.  It's free. And it is often in no way, shape or form vetted.  For example, even I will admit that this website often needs an editor because although I may be a passionate librarian, I am a passionate librarian who is prone to comma overuse and feels that sentence structure means . . . wait, what does it mean?  And yet there is this other part of me that recognizes that if my reviews in VOYA are considered professional reviews, then wouldn't they also be considered professional reviews here? I am, after all, still a professional librarian.

But before we dismiss blogs out of hand, let's recall that people like The Bloggess, The Prairie Woman (she cooks or something), and the Fug Girls (go fug yourself), have all parlayed their blogs into successful writing careers.  Justin Beiber turned his Internet moment into a hugely successful recording career, regardless of how you feel about his music personally.  The Postsecret phenom began as a simple art project and is now a series of books that inspires, invigorates, and sometimes saves lives.  The bottom line: just because it came from the nets doesn't mean it lacks value and worth. 

This is also true of blogs.  There are a variety of blogs that I read and follow.  Some of them are by professional librarians.  They inspire, they inform, they help me be a better teen services librarian.  And yes, they help me find books.  Some of them are by teens.  I love reading teen blogs because as a teen services librarian, it seems like a good way to get to know about teen culture.  You can't successfully serve teens in a bubble.

There is great benefit, too, in engaging in the online culture.  When teens create, they are practicing their technology skills (an undeniable need for the world we live in today), learning how to participate in a community, enhancing their writing skills, refining their self perception and how they present it to the world, and being active members in our 21st century world.

I created this website in part because I wanted to share my experience, knowledge and passion with other teens services librarians.  I also created it because I have seen over the years how each year we lose support, funding, and the time and resources we need and I wanted to share practical tools with my peers.  In the process, it helps me articulate to self why I do what I do and it helps me engage in a meaningful community of my peers.  It inspires, invigorates, and re-ignites.  It makes me accountable.  It gives me a forum to not only serve my small group of local teens, but to expand my service area by helping other teen librarians.  And it lets me pretend that I am an artist.

I love that the Internet levels the playing field and allows those with talent to find unconventional ways to shine.  It allows those with meaningful thoughts and opinions to develop and share them.  It creates dialogue and takes a world of finite information access points and just blows it out of the water.  As someone who values the access to information, the Internet is both a blessing and a curse.

I look at people like Margot Wood, the Real Fauxtographer, and I see how it allows her to creatively unite her artistic talents with her passion for ya fiction.  Without a doubt she has some real artistic talent, and the Internet allows us all to discover it and participate in it.

Here Margot Wood makes a book cover for Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Change is hard, and without a doubt the Internet is changing the way we discover talent, express ourselves, and act as a part of our professional community.  But blogs have value.  I am a blog writer.  I am a blog reader.  I am also a librarian.  They are two parts of one whole.

To see some of my favorite blogs, please visit the past posts The 12 Blogs of Christmas Part 1 and Part 2.

Some of my other favorite online resources and projects include:

Random Buzzers - Random House's online, interactive site for teens

Figment - an online writing community

One - a creative community where you are asked to tell a story in 1 sentence

The Library as Incubator Project - Its mission is to bring art into the library

The Real Fauxtographer - discussed above - Encourages people to share their secrets via artistic postcards

No Flying, No Tights - a great graphic novel resource - everything you need to know about upcoming tv and movies

the nerdy book club - well, exactly what you think it is

Early Word - focuses on bringing the "early word" on upcoming publications to libraries and book sellers

Also, keep in mind that Booklist, School Library Journal and VOYA all provide content online to supplement their print journals.  Don't forget, most of your favorite authors also have online resources to enhance both the reading and writing experience.  Bottom line: blogs are great resources.

Now it's your turn: what are your favorite blogs and why?

PS - One of my favorite things is when someone @s me on Twitter, e-mails me, or leaves a comment letting me know that they read a book because I talked about it and loved it.  Sorry if you read a book I recommend and you don't love it.  Every books its reader and all that. Love, Karen J.


  1. Hi Karen! Love Teen Librarian's Toolbox as a PD community as well as a place to find out about great YA material. I'm an English teacher obtaining my MLIS, and I started a YA blog in January simply because I love reading YA and talking about YA. I also love writing, so it all just fit. Like you, one of the most rewarding aspects of the blog is when someone reads a book I recommended and loves it! Thanks for your great posts and for letting us share our blogs! You can find me at

  2. is a good book blog. It's not just reviews; Amy also writes passionately about the experience of reading. And she's my awesome colleague.

    My own blog What's Not Wrong? is roughly 50% book reviews and 50% whatever else is on my mind, which frequently involves bookish pursuits.


  3. Several friends and I run:

    We read and review whatever we are reading, which is mostly dystopian literature and other YA works.

    Thanks for running your blog/twitter. It's encouraging to see active librarians. =)

  4. Hi there! I appreciate and enjoy your posts and tweets. :) My blog is BookTasty which is a Young Adult and Middle Grades fiction review blog. :) My goal, as a librarian and blogger is to help people find books to love.

  5. I'm a new follower. I have a personal blog where I post mostly about teens, books, and writing YA.

    On Tuesdays during the school year, my students answer blog reader questions anonymously. I've also recently started posting reviews of YA books I'm reading.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love your blog and all the resources you share. It's so helpful to have book bloggers, especially other librarians. It helps me be able to recommend books to patrons without having read them all myself!

    This has inspired me to put together a list of all the blogs I follow, which I have been putting off for a while.

    Off the top of my head, a great YA/MG librarian blog

    I blog about reading, writing, and being a YA assistant librarian at

  7. My co-YA coordinator and I created a tumblr (in addition to our blog) that focuses more on what we love about our job! And we get to brag a little :)

    follow us if you're on tumblr!