I remember when I got my job at Norwich, but before I started, I wondered what the new job would mean for my blog. How would my writing reflect on my organization? Would people ask me to censor myself? Fortunately, it has not changed what I write in the least. My blog is separate from my job and my colleagues seem to support that notion. On the other hand, I would never write about certain things that go on at work or certain things that are said in meetings. I know that there is a line that can’t be crossed, but that’s more about common sense. I also do not blog personal conversations that I know people wouldn’t want to be public. However, when I write my blog, the opinions expressed on it are mine and do not represent my employer.
I wish that all employers could be so enlightened and fortunately in our field, many are. I was pleased that Jenny Levine’s writing didn’t change when she got her job at ALA. I had wondered if it would change, but the things I’ve enjoyed most from her blog lately are her reports on the things that are going on internally at ALA. It gives me a fascinating glimpse into that world.
So I can understand why Jenny would be so frustrated by what Dorothea Salo wrote in the comments on a post on this blog that associated what Jenny was writing to ALA. Dorothea thinks that what Jenny wrote reflects on her employer, which happens to be the ALA. And Jenny pointed out to me that by my not saying anything against that view, I was actually condoning it. While I agree with Dorothea most of the time, and definitely appreciated her sticking up for me, this is an opinion I strongly disagree with and one that I only didn’t disagree with in the comments because it seemed off-topic. Jenny shouldn’t let up on me because she works for ALA. She shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells because of that. I never saw this as an employee of ALA versus a member of ALA. I saw it as Jenny and Meredith having a disagreement. Just as my comments should not reflect on my employer, hers should not either. It would be one thing if she wrote this on her blog and if her blog was an official ALA blog and listed as such on the site. Looking at ALA’s list of blogs, I see that The Shifted Librarian is not on there. I think when we are writing on a blog that is listed on our company’s Website, we do have to be careful, because then anything we say could be seen as being condoned by our employer. That does include Hectic Pace and Green Kangaroo (two excellent blogs that do ALA proud), but it should not include The Shifted Librarian. Not that Jenny’s blog wouldn’t reflect well on the ALA, but it shouldn’t reflect on the ALA.
I do not agree with Jenny that any comment someone writes on my blog that I leave on the site sends the message that I condone it, but I do agree that this one did deserve further comment. I do not delete comments, even if sometimes I want to forget about a particular exchange (like, umm… all of last week). It just seems somehow wrong to me; like revising history. Dorothea wrote what she did and I would neither ask her to retract it, nor would I delete it. Where would I stop with that? I disagreed with Jenny last week, but I never deleted any of her comments. Dorothea stated her opinion, not fact, and she is entitled to it. Her name is on the comment; not mine.
Sorry I got you in dutch, Meredith. It wasn’t my intent, but that doesn’t excuse the actuality.
Glad to see you post this, Meredith. Hoping that this week will be a better one for all of us in the biblioblogosphere 🙂
First, let me state that I agree with you, Meredith. Or, I want to. But in my looking into the ALA Washington Office having set up an office in Second Life, I found this at the District Dispatch, an official ALA blog:
“The ALA Washington Office and ALA as a whole are determining what services our members would like us to provide in this online environment. What would you like to see from ALA and/or the Washington Office on Second Life? Please leave any suggestions using the comment link below, at the Shifted Librarian Blog or join me “in world.””
I am not going to claim to be the arbiter of when the line is crossed from personal to professional, but when an official ALA blog asks for feedback on ALA business at either itself or the personal blog of one of its employees … well, some line has been crossed.
Believe me, I am not trying to prolong any of this and I, too, wish it hadn’t happened. If one were to look around the blogosphere closely they might find that I, in fact, feel somewhat responsible. That is, of course, fairly silly, but nonetheless I do since your post was partially in response to me.
But the fact remains, an official organ of ALA has asked for feedback on the personal blog of one of its employees. I’ll leave it to my betters to tell me what line has been crossed. All I can say is isn’t as simple as you have graciously tried to make it.
Hmmm… that certainly does muddy the waters a bit, but it’s definitely not my place to clarify that particular fact.
Things sometimes get murky in the professional/personal realm even when we try to keep them separate. I have gotten comments from a staff member, a faculty member and one student regarding my blog posts (all positive fortunately!) though I had never pointed them to my blog. I know it’s not the same, but I’m just saying…
Dorothea and Mark, you shouldn’t feel responsible for anything. You’re both good people with minds of your own and I admire how you stand by your beliefs even when they are unpopular.
Liminality is a hard line — er, gray area — to walk. I don’t always do it with grace, heaven knows, but I try always to remain conscious of the effort, because to do otherwise risks some pretty dangerous self-delusion.
Meredith, I appreciate your words and your actions, and I reiterate that you are certainly not responsible in any way, shape, or form for mine. It’s quite brave of you to maintain an open forum where matters can get out of hand. In future, I shall endeavor not to be at the bottom of the pile.
I could spend all day dissecting your arguments because they’re so full of holes, but instead I’ll just defend others like Steven Cohen (ITI) and say that I still think they are entitled to personal opinions separate from their employers (especially when they sign their blog posts and comments under their own names), same as me.
If we continue down the slippery slope you’re sliding down, Meredith’s book blog links her to “American Libraries” and her blog is noted in her January article in AL (and I assume in future columns). In a post on her personal blog, she solicits input for the column. In fact, in the January article she asks readers to send success story ideas to a personal email address of hers, so I guess now *her* personal opinions expressed on any website also reflect on ALA. Nice. Hey, Meredith – maybe we should consider this whole thing an internal disagreement and the rest of them are just interlopers! :-p
Seriously though, Meredith, you never asked to post about what I said to you in private email, and I certainly didn’t give you permission. I can’t believe I have to say this, but please don’t do that again. It’s common courtesy to ask permission before doing something like that. If you plan to continue doing this, you should at least note it on your sites so that your readers are forewarned (see Dorothea’s blog for an example).
I had a comment here, but I don\’t think I should dignify your trolling by addressing what you wrote. I will just say that you know exactly why I wrote it (and that I wrote it in a good faith effort to make amends) and the fact that you write such different things in public and in private really show me how disingenuous you are in the public sphere. I am finished with this discussion and will not accept any more comments from you that are rude to my readers as your last one was.