My boss reckons I should blog more but I don’t wanna

My boss suggested today that I blog more. He was very careful not to frame this as an order, or even a request, and I assured him I didn’t feel obliged. He said he had come across this blog while preparing for his new role, having figured out we would soon be working together. I guess I didn’t scare him away.

It’s harder for me to blog now. For one thing, I’ve had lots of therapy. I don’t feel that need to pour all of my feelings into a semi-professional package and shout into the void for validation and attention. These days I can feel listened to much closer to home, by smaller and closer networks of people. I can talk to my team and my broader colleagues and my friends at other libraries and, yes, to my boss. I feel much more legible here. I don’t have to bottle it all up and spray words all over the internet.

I also have a job that pays me to do a lot of the things I could previously only blog about. I get paid to remediate harmful metadata and improve data flows and teach staff about the power and glory of cataloguing. It’s the best job I’m ever going to have. I’m too busy doing the things to write about them, but I’m also far more conscious of writing out of turn, as it were. This has always been a personal blog (sometimes overly so) and I blogged about things because I was interested in them, not because my employer was. These days I am only one part of several bigger projects, they’re not solely mine to write about, they’re not always my stories to tell. Even the philosophising is done at work instead of my off time.

For all its (many, many) faults, Twitter brought a massive hit of professional energy to librarianship. It activated and connected us, it prompted thoughtful conversations on theory and power, it held people and institutions to account. I asserted myself on that platform and it brought me an audience. It was also a massive cesspool, let’s be real here, but it had significant real-world impacts on librarianship in this country and others.

But so much of my tweeting and blogging activity was fuelled by anger and fear. Fossil fuels, with poisonous and long-lasting consequences. I haven’t fully transitioned to renewable professional energy sources, I’m not yet powered by fresh air and sunshine. But I also don’t even know if I’d want to do that. The only way forward, ultimately, is to use less energy. I’m pouring less of myself into work these days, keeping a little in reserve for other things. To be honest, I’m happier not blogging.

I will concede, however, that it is now a lot harder for library professionals (especially disaffected ones, like I used to be) to keep abreast of developments in the field, or to find out how other institutions are dealing with an issue, or even to meet people. There’s not a clear set of next steps for life after Library Twitter. A few people hang out on the Mastodon server, but activity levels (and preferences) vary widely. newCardigan has a Discord server but it doesn’t get used much. Everyone is collectively too busy to blog, though a couple of newsletters have sprung up. I imagine there are probably Facebook groups and other Discord servers and even elists (remember them?) that I don’t know about. I did hear rumours of people using Linkedin more, which sounds abominable. I’m not here to talk about work. I’m here to talk about the work.

It didn’t even occur to me until later to ask my boss what he thought I should blog about, or whether he even liked my other posts. I suppose I should take his suggestion as a kind of implicit endorsement. That’s nice, I guess.

I’m tempted to ask whatever audience I have left what they might like to see or read from me, but then I would feel at least somewhat obliged to fulfil their request, and it would become an interminable chore. Perhaps this is the end of Cataloguing the Universe, at least for now. I’m at peace with that. I’m sure my boss will find other things to read.