I’ve been royally tired of my blog theme for a long time. So tonight, to distract myself from various things I didn’t want to be thinking about, I decided to choose a new theme and apply all my theme tweaks to it. So here it is, my first draft. Things might change for a while, and I still have to test the tweak that I’ll always think of as “Walt’s tweak” (the one that Dorothea and Steve worked so hard to help me apply to my last theme), but I already like this a whole lot better.
One thing that confuses me is my sidebar. Every once in a while it refuses to sit in its natural spot off to the left and migrates, for no known reason, down to the bottom of the page. I don’t think it’s far enough south to have warmer weather down there, so I’m at a bit of a loss. If anyone has any ideas, I’m open to hearing them.
Update: Reducing the sidebar width from 25% to 20% seems to have done the trick. Yay! But I’m still open to suggestions for other things to change. This is still pretty much an out-of-the-box theme.
Update 2: Grrr… Walt’s Tweak kills the blog in IE. Will have to investigate sometime when better coding minds than mine can help me.
I’ve been having the most interesting exchange with Mark in the comments on my last post. I love it how a seemingly simple discussion about jargon can push me to interrogate my mission and place within the educational system in ways I’d never articulated before. Have I mentioned recently how much I love the fact that we can have this type of discussion so easily these days? Well, I do.
People talk about blogs being conversation spaces in a large part because of their comment features. And I love the fact that people can comment on blogs. I get ridiculously excited when people comment on the posts I put up here (seriously, every single time it’s like I’ve never gotten a comment before). And I like the option to respond to other people’s thoughts (though I do this far too rarely). But I almost never think to check other people’s blogs to see if there’s a conversation unfolding in their comment threads. Except for a handful of times over the last three years, someone else has had to say something like “did you see that comment on so-and-so’s blog?” before I’ll remember to go check on these things. Personally, I think the fact that I read blogs through my RSS reader hinders my comment reading. I rarely click through to the posts themselves. But clearly other people are able to do it, and I know they’re using RSS readers, too.
I won’t say this is my biggest weakness as a blogger, but it’s right up there. So I’ve been watching with interest as other blogger-librarians undertake the 2008 Comment Challenge. And while I watch them work through this challenge, I’ll try to think about my own commenting and comment-watching practices. How important is it that I watch comments? Am I OK with my default mode of catching up with comments when somebody else reminds me to go look? If not, is there a way that I can remember to check comments on other people’s blogs that fits into my online lifestyle?
Those of you that have this thing figured out. How do you do it?
p.s. Goodness! I just realized I missed my blogaversary… over a month ago! This blog is now entering its third year.
Yesterday reference and instruction librarians from the five Oberlin Group libraries in Minnesota. I always love these meetings. They’re a chance to reconnect with our colleagues at other libraries, to think together about issues that will shape our futures, and to take large issues and examine how they map onto our particular experiences. This time the issue was the future of reference service. Just a little topic… but it was really interesting to see the range of strategies these five libraries are taking employing to continue their quest to serve their faculty and students.
Not surprisingly, an underlying theme of the presentations and discussion sessions was communication. How do you communicate effectively in new media? How do you communicate the worth and weight and legitimacy of a reference question to an embarrassed student? How do you communicate the value of the library to faculty at a liberal arts institution?
These are posts for another evening, though, because what’s been on my mind today started as a lunch-time conversation on a similar theme. I was talking to Barbara Fister (who writes in too many places to make name-linking easy, so I’ll just choose ACRLog for her this time) and two librarians from St. Olaf when the topic of professional communication came up. Specifically, where is the professional discussion about librarianship happening right now, and what’s happening with email lists?
And it got me thinking (again) about the modes of professional communication that work for me and the ones that don’t. And for me, for most things, email lists do not work. Something about writing a post to an email list intimidates me to my very core. This feels odd to say, since I happily write here for all to see. And yet, the though of all those “lurkers” on email lists paralyzes me. Maybe it’s because whatever I’d post to an email list will end up in somebody’s inbox. I’m shy about “spamming” people who may not know me or care about what I have to say, especially when I don’t know who I’m spamming. At least with this blog, I know that if you click on my URL or subscribe to my feed, you meant to do that. And if I get on your nerves you can just not read me any more. This sense that I’m not intentionally intruding on people’s inboxes seems to be the key to my being able to actually participate in a professional community.
I’ll write later about why I think multiple modes of communication are important, but it boils down to this: different people are shy about different things. I’m shy about intruding on people’s inboxes. Other people are not, and I always appreciate when people email me. (Hey, I never claimed to be logical!) Email lists just don’t work for me. I’m glad they work for others.
And while I’m in a blog maintenance kind of a mood, here’s something else you might find useful. Blog Backup Online is a free service that will back up your blog on a daily basis and save it on their servers. (You can also download an XML file to your computer, if you want.) The free version allows you 50MB of space on their servers, but that goes a long way. This entire blog only takes up 2.64MB.