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David Lee King

I Don’t Trust the Library Journal



What’s more ironic than Michael Gorman complaining about blogs and wikis on the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s blog? How about Library Journal’s recent decision to host the Annoyed Librarian’s anonymous blog?

Yep – that’s right. The same organization that publishes the Transparent Library column is now giving voice to … an anonymous blogger.

Library Journal claims to be “the oldest and most respected publication covering the library field.” I’ll ask – do you respect a publication that allows one of their writers to be anonymous, when that anonymity has been used in the past to attack other librarians and the work they do? Who also allows and encourages other librarians to anonymously say mean, hateful things in the comments of his/her anonymous blog? To me, that’s simply juvenile and irresponsible.

And now that same juvenile, irresponsible behavior has been paid, and has been given a voice … by “the oldest and most respected publication covering the library field.” Hmm… another irony noted.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for tearing down bad ideas, pointing out inconsistencies, sharing what I think … and have no problem when people do the same with me. That’s expected. But I also think it’s important to own one’s words … and you simply can’t do that when you’re anonymous. Maybe just me – but I think if you can’t say it when your name’s attached … maybe you shouldn’t say it at all.

So when a “respected” library publication starts writing with an anonymous voice, I get concerned.

Library Journal – As a 2008 Mover and Shaker, and as one who has been published in Library Journal publications in the past, I stand behind the words I write, and I expect you to do the same.

Readers – what do you think? I’d like to know.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.libraryjournal.com/ Francine Fialkoff

    Hi David,
    You’re right, we are paying AL for her content; it’s not just a fee for hosting her blog. As Ann Kim mentioned already, we don’t edit our bloggers. Perhaps AL is closest to BackTalk or NextGen in the print LJ, both opinion pieces written by non-LJers that bring in diverse voices, though they’re usually not tongue-in-cheek like AL. We might not always agree with the slant of a BackTalk, but when we edit them, we don’t alter it.
    We’ve given AL editorial control, which means as long as she’s not libelous, defamatory, or profane, she’s good to go. We are providing editorial oversight in that we can always take down a post or end the relationship. And by choosing to feature the AL, we’re ackowledging the value of the voice, if not the specific content of each column.
    Bringing in an existing blog is new territory for us, and I’m hoping this is just the first. I laughed out loud at today’s post on the job interview. Given these times (not just in libraryland but generally), that’s pretty good. Francine

  • http://www.libraryjournal.com Francine Fialkoff

    Hi David,
    You’re right, we are paying AL for her content; it’s not just a fee for hosting her blog. As Ann Kim mentioned already, we don’t edit our bloggers. Perhaps AL is closest to BackTalk or NextGen in the print LJ, both opinion pieces written by non-LJers that bring in diverse voices, though they’re usually not tongue-in-cheek like AL. We might not always agree with the slant of a BackTalk, but when we edit them, we don’t alter it.
    We’ve given AL editorial control, which means as long as she’s not libelous, defamatory, or profane, she’s good to go. We are providing editorial oversight in that we can always take down a post or end the relationship. And by choosing to feature the AL, we’re ackowledging the value of the voice, if not the specific content of each column.
    Bringing in an existing blog is new territory for us, and I’m hoping this is just the first. I laughed out loud at today’s post on the job interview. Given these times (not just in libraryland but generally), that’s pretty good. Francine

  • http://bpl.org/ Scot Colford

    Well, we all at least know what pronoun to use for her now. :-)

  • http://bpl.org Scot Colford

    Well, we all at least know what pronoun to use for her now. :-)

  • http://www.libraryjournal.com/ Francine Fialkoff

    Scott,
    With 80% of librarians being women, “she” always seems the right pronoun to me!
    Francine

  • http://www.libraryjournal.com Francine Fialkoff

    Scott,
    With 80% of librarians being women, “she” always seems the right pronoun to me!
    Francine

  • http://alancordle.com/blog/ Alan Cordle

    I cannot believe librarians, like Jessamyn, would actually call this a weird decision.

    If you don’t like the column, don’t read it.

    Seriously, you’re librarians/library workers.

    Anonymity for free speech is an essential and protected freedom in the states. I applaud LJ for running the AL blog.

    That said, I bet AL’s not going to remain anonymous long.

    I also suspect there will be vindictive bunhuns soon after.

  • http://alancordle.com/blog/ Alan Cordle

    I cannot believe librarians, like Jessamyn, would actually call this a weird decision.

    If you don’t like the column, don’t read it.

    Seriously, you’re librarians/library workers.

    Anonymity for free speech is an essential and protected freedom in the states. I applaud LJ for running the AL blog.

    That said, I bet AL’s not going to remain anonymous long.

    I also suspect there will be vindictive bunhuns soon after.

  • davidleeking

    Alan – nobody’s got a problem with the free speech part of this. Everyone has the right to free speech… but not everyone needs to be published. Or paid by a respected organization.

    Two very different things.

  • davidleeking

    Alan – nobody’s got a problem with the free speech part of this. Everyone has the right to free speech… but not everyone needs to be published. Or paid by a respected organization.

    Two very different things.

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  • Emily

    AL’s anonymity allows him/her to express unpopular opinions which could be damaging to his/her career.
    Many Librarians who blog are also hyper-aware of the self marketing aspects of blogging, and as a result post bland and uninteresting pieces guaranteed to offend no one.
    A single anonymous blog does not destroy the credibility of LJ. It provides a little diversity and contrast. I am reminded of the original set-up of the Talk of the Town section in the New Yorker: short anonymous blurbs.
    I can understand that Librarians who have felt the cutting edge of AL’s blog might be disappointed by this decision, but (and I mean this gently) they should toughen up a little bit.

  • Emily

    AL’s anonymity allows him/her to express unpopular opinions which could be damaging to his/her career.
    Many Librarians who blog are also hyper-aware of the self marketing aspects of blogging, and as a result post bland and uninteresting pieces guaranteed to offend no one.
    A single anonymous blog does not destroy the credibility of LJ. It provides a little diversity and contrast. I am reminded of the original set-up of the Talk of the Town section in the New Yorker: short anonymous blurbs.
    I can understand that Librarians who have felt the cutting edge of AL’s blog might be disappointed by this decision, but (and I mean this gently) they should toughen up a little bit.

  • davidleeking

    Emily: A couple responses:

    on the unpopular opinions/damaging thing… if a blogger can’t say it to someone’s face, they shouldn’t say it. Either get a backbone already, or simmer down… don’t be a coward and hide behind anonymity.

    On the “guaranteed to offend no one” bit – most bloggers I know don’t have a goal of offending others – they tend to focus on DOING things… like my post on improving a facebook page. So it’s really an apples/oranges thing.

  • davidleeking

    Emily: A couple responses:

    on the unpopular opinions/damaging thing… if a blogger can’t say it to someone’s face, they shouldn’t say it. Either get a backbone already, or simmer down… don’t be a coward and hide behind anonymity.

    On the “guaranteed to offend no one” bit – most bloggers I know don’t have a goal of offending others – they tend to focus on DOING things… like my post on improving a facebook page. So it’s really an apples/oranges thing.

  • http://librarian.lishost.org/ Kathleen de la Peña McCook

    Emily, You say, “AL’s anonymity allows him/her to express unpopular opinions which could be damaging to his/her career.” But you think it o.k. for him/her to name people and attack them? If I am going to attack a person by name, I think it is only ethical that I do so with my name.
    Karen Schneider at Free Range Librarian said it well:
    “I didn’t read LJ to hear the cowardly natterings of some anonymous blogger. I read it for straight-up reporting I could believe in, and opinion from people who had the balls to put their bylines on their posts. John Berry could be outrageous, but I could pick up the phone and talk to him.” —
    http://freerangelibrarian.com/2008/10/10/rip-library-journal/

  • http://librarian.lishost.org/ Kathleen de la Peña McCook

    Emily, You say, “AL’s anonymity allows him/her to express unpopular opinions which could be damaging to his/her career.” But you think it o.k. for him/her to name people and attack them? If I am going to attack a person by name, I think it is only ethical that I do so with my name.
    Karen Schneider at Free Range Librarian said it well:
    “I didn’t read LJ to hear the cowardly natterings of some anonymous blogger. I read it for straight-up reporting I could believe in, and opinion from people who had the balls to put their bylines on their posts. John Berry could be outrageous, but I could pick up the phone and talk to him.” —
    http://freerangelibrarian.com/2008/10/10/rip-library-journal/

  • another Kathleen

    “I see the AL as more of a place where satire and sarcasm take place.”

    I think that this just might be the point. And perhaps exactly why some people do choose to read that blog.

    As for the AL’s “negativity” is this an issue of tone (satire, sarcasm, snarkiness)? Or is it that it is “negative” to question paying people to hang out in Second Life (very little reference happens, btw) when budgets for materials, including books, videos, and online content are being cut?

  • another Kathleen

    “I see the AL as more of a place where satire and sarcasm take place.”

    I think that this just might be the point. And perhaps exactly why some people do choose to read that blog.

    As for the AL’s “negativity” is this an issue of tone (satire, sarcasm, snarkiness)? Or is it that it is “negative” to question paying people to hang out in Second Life (very little reference happens, btw) when budgets for materials, including books, videos, and online content are being cut?

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  • mc213

    I think its fine to be anonymous as long as the ideas and information are getting out there to start discussions. Why do we have to know who the person is? Is a name and a face really important when many are made up anyway? I like the mystery of not knowing. And, to be honest, we need a quick kick in the butt most of the time to get our heads out of the clouds and really re-think and re-evaluate the services we provide.

  • mc213

    I think its fine to be anonymous as long as the ideas and information are getting out there to start discussions. Why do we have to know who the person is? Is a name and a face really important when many are made up anyway? I like the mystery of not knowing. And, to be honest, we need a quick kick in the butt most of the time to get our heads out of the clouds and really re-think and re-evaluate the services we provide.

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  • http://riofriotex.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    DonnaB wrote, “…most blogs which spend an inordinate amount of time in self-promotion and self-aggrandizement (and ditto for the little clique of bloggers that all seem to spend a lot of time patting each other on the back, quoting each other, and acting smug about their careers).”

    Amen. Bravo LJ and AL!

  • http://riofriotex.blogspot.com Amanda

    DonnaB wrote, “…most blogs which spend an inordinate amount of time in self-promotion and self-aggrandizement (and ditto for the little clique of bloggers that all seem to spend a lot of time patting each other on the back, quoting each other, and acting smug about their careers).”

    Amen. Bravo LJ and AL!

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